Which way to turn?


I am a non-practicing Catholic searching for advice. I was raised Catholic by parents who are very active in their church (dad’s in the KofC and an usher; mom taught CCD) and I received the Sacraments including Matrimony. My 2 children (6 and 4) are baptized Catholic. However, over the past 15 years I have fallen away from the church. Growing up I went to mass and CCD because I “had” to. I didn’t really feel any strong connection which is probably why as an adult I haven’t been practicing. I returned occasionally around the time of my marriage and the baptisms of my children. A year ago, I felt a strong need to have God and Jesus in my life again. I’ve had a difficult time returning to the Catholic church because I don’t agree with some of the Church’s teachings (birth control, homosexuality, sacrament of Reconciliation to name a few). I started attending a protestant church where my children attend Sunday school.

I should mention dh is Catholic, but wasn’t raised in a very religious home. He had to make his confirmation before we could get married. Because of that, he wants our children to receive the Catholic sacraments.

I also have a hard time “permanently” leaving. Once a Catholic, always a Catholic! I can’t imagine my children NOT receiving the sacraments.

Many of my friends and peers are in a similar situation as me except they don’t have a problem with disagreeing with church teachings. They continue to receive communion without confession. It sometimes seems as though a good portion of “practicing” Catholics don’t practice all the church teaches.

I’m at a crossroads. My oldest should be starting Faith Formation this year. At our local parish, he is home-schooled for the first 2 years. Do I continue with a protestant faith where I feel accepted or return to the Catholic church even if I don’t believe 100%?

I thank you for reading.

~ Michelle


It sounds like you are really feeling the calling of the Holy Spirit here. Welcome to CAF. I think that this is a great place to start to find out about what the Church really teaches. I am a convert, and previously had big misunerstandings about those same teachings that you feel at odd with. I honestly believe that if you open your heart and accept that Christ gave us his Church to guide us, and make a sincere effort to understand these teachings you will actually find them deep and meaningful.

I’m also hoping that you don’t encounter too many people who will beat you over the head with the truth here. We do have a tendency to be a little bit on the enthusiastic side here. So if you encounter some of us that are like that, please be a little bit patient with us and don’t let our over-enthusiasm drive you away from seeking the truth.

Prayers for you and your family in your journey.

A couple of good resources for you:

(Might give you some insight on the teachings on birthcontrol and homosexuality)


(A good explanation of why we confess to a priest. It took a while for me to get comfortable with it, but the sacrament of reconcilliation is now one of my favorite parts of being a Catholic)


Good morning, and welcome to the forums, Michelle. :wave:

Please come back home. Many of the Catholic faithful struggle with various teachings, and that’s all just part of the journey. :thumbsup: It sounds like you know in your heart that this is where you belong. You don’t have to accept everything 100% today; in fact, whatever you find yourself in disagreement with, it gives you an opportunity to grow in your faith.

Take it one step at a time. Joining the forums here was a great place to start – There’s so much information available to you, and knowledgeable people ready to help.

Take care & God bless ~

(Edit: I guess I’m a wee bit slow this morning… Dulcissima got to you first… :smiley: )


Your “strong need” is probably the Holy Spirit tugging at your heart to come home. :heart: Why do you disagree with some of the Church’s teachings? Because they go against popular culture? I’d suggest researching, via the Catechism of the Catholic Church and other materials, why those teachings are in place. Knowing why these teachings are part of God’s creation of life will help you to be able to accept them. For instance, the Church’s teaching against artificial birth control (ABC) isn’t to take away freedom or tell people they must have large families; it is because in order for our love to reflect the love of God, we must be completely open and giving in the marital act. When using ABC, we aren’t being completely open to our spouse or God. (I’m not a scholar, so for more on this I’d highly suggest listening to Christopher West’s talk “Marriage and the Eucharist” which you can get for FREE (as well as CDs on other Catholic topics) at www.catholicity.com.

If you want your children to receive the sacraments, they must be enrolled in religious ed. classes in the Catholic Church. I think your apparent strong feeling on this is probably not just one of pragmatism (don’t want them to have to do it quick like your husband did) but of spiritual conviction that you might not realize you have deep down. The sacraments are wonderful blessings for us – we are actually able to receive Jesus into our bodies via Holy Communion – the only thing better than that will be when we get to Heaven one day! :smiley: It’s also interesting that above you mentioned an issue with the sacrament of reconciliation, yet here you stress how important the sacraments are. Again, I think maybe you’re misinformed or have forgotten the beauty of going to confession. (I have recently gotten back to confession, and I’m finding it to be a wonderful gift!) As Jesus said to St. Faustina (as recorded in her Diary): the priest is just a “screen” for Him, He is the one who is forgiving your sins and giving you the strength and grace to sin no more. There are some excellent free CDs at CatholiCity on confession too that you might want to listen to.

I don’t know if there is an RCIA-like program for those returning to the Church or maybe you can just go through the regular RCIA program (somebody else here probably knows). Come home to the Catholic Church. Jesus is waiting for you in the confessional, in adoration in the blessed sacrament, in Holy Communion.

I’ll pray for you and your family. Private message me anytime. :hug1:


the greater part of my job is helping families like yours, so I would like to suggest your conflict lies not so much in the fact that you disagree with some Church teachings, but that those teachings have never been properly explained to you, with their roots in scripture, natural law and doctrine. I do think before you study any other faith, you should first take steps to learn more about your own faith, and specifically about the issues that are most problematic for you. The classes you take when your children are preparing for sacraments are a beginning step, and designed to help you answer just such questions. You can also explain your feelings to the RE director when you register and ask what classes or other opportunities may be available for adults. For questions that impact your life right now, maybe marriage and family issues, ask for an appointment with the pastor, lay down your doubt and ask for his guidance–books, classes, discussion whatever, and where to go for more and deeper explanations.

You did promise when you baptized your children to raise them in the faith, and that was a solemn promise before God and his Church, on the part of both you and your husband, so you really are obligated to follow through on that promise. I can also suggest that one of the best ways to learn the faith yourself is to help someone else learn. If you volunteer to assist in your child’s class (as an aide, not so much pressure as being a catechist) you will learn as much or more as you would in an adult class.


Hi Michelle and Welcome to CAF!!! I tend to agree with PuzzleAnnie… I also find that once we learn the why’s of some of the things we disagree with it all makes sense. Then again too when we learn that what we were taught at times was incorrect… and we learn the correct dogma and doctrine, we find that our Catholic faith is so much more than we ever expected.

When I got involved in my children’s faith formation, I learned how little I really knew. I thought I knew enough but the Holy Spirit has blessed me with the desire to know even more. You will probably find the same thing happens to you. I know it really started with my son’s preparation for reconcilliation. I was so concerned that they were going to scare my boys and make them hate reconcilliation as much as I did… so I went to classes with them. Was I surprised to find a huge difference from what I was taught! Then I started going back to confession and lo and behold… I found that you can actually feel the grace imparted by this sacrament. It is now more of a joy than a dread to go to reconcilliation.

What you need to do is what Annie said… talk to the DRE about it and see what they have to help you… we have all been there in one way or another. Another moment for me was making an appointment with the pastor to chat about a friend of mine that went from a married Catholic to a lesbian Jew… I was really surprised by how the priest reacted to that… full of compassion and love. I am sure you will have similar experiences to what I had in my quest to learn more.


Wow! Thank you for all the quick and kind responses. :slight_smile: I have made a similar post at a different web forum and was basically told that unless I believed and practiced all the church’s teachings, I’m not welcome. Kind of an “all or nothing” approach. I sort of feel that way with my local parish (it is VERY conservative). I’ve been afraid to speak to the priest or deacon there. When I picked up the material to home-school my son, the Deacon came across very judgmental. Perhaps it’s my own perception, but he scared me. Other parishioners who know him well have advised me that it would NOT be a good idea to open up to him. I’d like to visit another parish in a neighboring town that seems to be very family-friendly, which is important to me. They have a children’s liturgy, VBS in the summer, Faith Formation classes in 1st grade (vs. home-schooling only). I also found it interesting that their RCIA program is also for Catholics wishing to learn more about their faith (perfect for me). :smiley: One of the reasons that I started attending the Protestant church is because they involved children as young as 3 in Sunday school whereas the Catholic church in my town begins classes in the 3rd grade. Is it OK to join a parish outside of your community?

I have not had a chance to read all the links that have been posted, but I most definitely will.

I definitely claim ignorance! I’m not ready to just throw away my faith because of some disagreements, doubts, and misunderstandings. I guess I really need to feel accepted and OK coming back as I am.

I recently read Catholicism for Dummies. It’s overwhelming, but I have begun to learn more.

Regarding Reconciliation… I was yelled at in confession (only my 2nd or 3rd time). That plus I remember being taught that God forgives us if we ask him so I never understood the need to go through the priest and get yelled at. Probably an isolated instance, but when that happens at a young age it sticks with you. :frowning: Guess I’ve never felt the grace you’ve described.

ABC vs. NFP… I have read about the connection between husband and wife using NFP, but the bottom line is that it is still being used to prevent pregnancy.

Homosexuality… I have a lesbian cousin who has been in a relationship for over 20 years and has adopted two girls (one of which I am the Godmother to). I do not view their life as wrong and don’t want to teach my children that either.

How the church spends money… growing up, my parents’ parish celebrated Mass in the school’s all purpose room. We didn’t have a church building. They’ve since built a lovely church. Recently my father proudly told me about the elaborate and expensive pipe organ they intalled. I appreciate the importance of music in worship, but the thousands and thousands of dollars spent on an instrument seems unnecessary and could have been used toward charitable causes.

I mean no disrespect… I’m just elaborating on some of the areas that have troubled me.

Thank you all again! I’m off to start some reading…

~ Michelle


Let Jesus lead you. Spend as much time as you can before the Blessed Sacrament. Speak with the Lord about all your concerns. It’s ok to say, “Lord, I don’t get, agree, understand…” Be persistent. Don’t feel rushed to come to 100% agreement. Stay neutral. Invite the Holy Spirit on this journey of return and discovery. Reconcillation is a powerful gift. It is another way that Jesus meets us. It is a gift worth exploring.
This is not just about what we know in our heads, it is about a love relationship with Jesus.
Regardless of what others are/aren’t doing, come because Jesus is to be found.


A woman scientist I worked with could probably be described as assertive. She told that a priest once yelled at her in Confession. She immediately explained to him that her confession was to Jesus not to him; he was just there to represent Jesus. Since Jesus wasn’t mad at her, he had no reason to be; so please stick to his role. :thumbsup:


It’s definitely okay to join a parish outside of your community. I live in the next city over from my parish, and there are probably three or four parishes closer to my home. However, the parish we belong to is home. :slight_smile: The other parish you have described sounds like it might be a perfect fit for you and your family.

As for Reconciliation: please give it another go. I didn’t go for years and was surprised at the compassion and peace I received when I finally worked up the nerve. I’m betting the priests at the family-friendly parish won’t yell.


Hey, Michelle, I found a few links here on Catholic Answers that might help explain the “why” behind Church teaching, regarding two of the issues you posted about. :smiley: Hope they help!



Sorry to give you even more links to sort through (there are more links within the links I posted), but education is so important in faith formation. Be prepared to read, read, and read some more! :wink: Of course, personal research should be used in conjunction with a program like RCIA. Have fun!

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