I was born and brought up Catholic, but within the past year have become “confused” about the faith. I’ve only really gotten into all this the past few years, in spite of having parents who aren’t well catechized and thus didn’t catechize their kids well (they aren’t much help on these kinds of things at all). Last September I started my first year of university, and in the first week met and subsequently became close friends with a Protestant who raised questions I haven’t been able to satisfactorily answer for myself. Being at a secular school was a new experience for me–I’d grown up in the Canadian Catholic system–and anytime a Christian and I clicked I wasn’t about to throw away the opportunity to get close to someone who understood where I was coming from on moral issues like chastity and with whom I could share my faith.
I don’t consider myself Catholic at this point, but am still doing research into my questions–the role of tradition, papal infallibility, salvation by faith alone or faith plus works, the immaculate conception/assumption/etc. of Mary, and praying to her and the saints are the main issues. I mean, I want to make sure that if the Catholic Church is what it claims it is, I get back there yesterday. Over the past ten months I’ve been to various non-Catholic churches–Lutheran, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, and Baptist–and have been doing research on them from time to time; none of them seemed a good match. Either way, I’ve made sure not to take their communion–or, for that matter, the eucharist when I’ve gone to Mass, because I see no reason to compound my sin (if my having left the Catholic Church is mortal) by taking it unworthily. There are various things about these different denominations that I like–in particular, the long sermons and the inspiring singing–but definitely things that I disagree with. I definitely feel out of place at a Pentecostal service with their over-emphasis on gifts of the spirit/charisms, think the double predestination of Presbyterianism is erronious, and don’t view baptism or communion as merely symbolic as do Baptists.
All of this has been causing me a lot of anguish the past several months; I want to know the truth, have been reading online material and watching YouTube videos, and be where God wants me to be. If for some reason I die before the Holy Spirit helps me “figure things out”… will I go to hell… because I once was but no longer am a member of the Catholic Church? If out of my own myopia, pride, ignorance, or folly, I don’t “jump back in” before I die–let’s say in a car accident–what’s going to happen?
Thanks for any input,