I wonder if I am at risk of apostatizing, and what that would mean.
I don’t plan to become a member of a different specific religion. I don’t plan to go around talking about it. I still believe many things Catholicism teaches (like natural law) and am not trying to ‘escape’ from following those teachings. I believe my conscience will still bind me in many ways to act consistent with Catholic teaching. But I’m not sure what will happen when the pandemic ends and we’re obligated to return to Sunday Mass; I don’t know yet if I will return.
I increasingly don’t understand what the Catholic Church is. It increasingly seems there is no ‘one’ Church speaking with one voice. The Church increasingly looks to me like it has many heads, and Tradition and Magisterium (even those within the magisterium) speak at odds with each other rather than in harmony. It seems that those who speak for the Church today emphasize that my conscience is my guide, and that if I am sincere in my motives it is not important that I participate in things like sacraments or formal communion with the Church.
I edited my post to add this paragraph in case it helps explain: My natural intuitions say that externally received sacraments are not necessary. I only have received them in the past through trusting the Church when she told me to receive them. But if external teaching is unclear or says they may not be necessary, and I am encouraged to follow my own instincts and intellect, my instincts and intellect may not lead me to continue receiving the externally visible sacraments.
I have tried in the past to follow teaching closely. But teaching now seems unclear to me, and I am exhausted of trying to defend teaching to other Catholics and non-Catholics when those in positions of authority (to whom I should defer) seem to discourage defending teaching or spreading the faith as being “rigid” or about “counting heads”, and I don’t know what to do anymore. I can’t teach against the teachers, and I no longer hear the teachers teaching with one voice.
I am not asking for help with my specific issues (though I understand that anyone can make any reply here). I am asking if quietly retreating and acknowledging (internally, or to family and friends) the reality I seem to be facing, of not knowing what the Church is, and not thinking I have to interact with the sacraments anymore, makes me an apostate… and what that would mean for my soul from the perspective of the Church. If anyone knows where to point me. Though I realize there may be multiple different kinds of answers, which seems like part of my problem in the first place.