Why does the very idea of going to a church scare me so much?

I want to believe I really do, but all I feel is block after block.

I should start this thread by saying that I used to attend church faithfully every Sunday and come Sunday morning, I would wake early, pray and then go off to church. I was even in the worship band and a small house study group.

Then came the last year of university, and for various reasons, including some personal health issues and also some religious doubts, meant that I pretty much dropped out of religious activities, including university stuff.

I’ve since tried my utmost to try and attend church again since, but each and every attempt to do so is met with failure. It’s not that I can’t find a church that I enjoy being at or anything like this, but the actual physical act of stepping through church doors and attending Mass to be physically impossible.

This morning I was lucky to find myself near to a small Catholic church which offers a morning Daily Mass. Not being at work until the afternoon, I believed that this might be a good thing to try going to this service as someone interested in Catholicism, to see the Mass for myself and to worship. So I tried to go there. But as I got closer and closer, fear began to take over and my entire body felt to me to become heavier and heavier to the point where I could physically not take a step. I was shaking and my hands were so shaky, I could barely hold onto my bag.

Seriously, why has going to church become a big deal? It’s really beginning to frustrate and really break my heart that I cannot even enter a holy place.

You should talk to a priest. He could help you. You should also pray to God for strength.

I felt the same way when I attended my first Mass at about 14. I was afraid that everyone would turn to face me and brand me a heathen or something. That, or chase my agnostic behind out of town.

Despite my fear, I forced myself to enter the church. I ended up crying in the restroom stall because I was so overwhelmed with emotion. I was frightened and my heart was racing, but I didn’t know why. It’s hard to explain, but the tears were equally from happiness and fear. Looking back, I think it was the first time I really felt God’s presence in my life. After a life of empty Protestantism and agnosticism, I’ve finally come home.

At the risk of being long-winded, I’ll make it short. Force yourself to go to Mass. It’s hard at first, but you’ll thank yourself in the long run.

Here is a different take. We are in a fallen world and this is the domain of the evil one. We also have an inclination to sin, due to original sin.

While we are here on earth, satan wants to make sure we do not make it into heaven. He will do all he can to make sure you do not grow in the one true faith by first entering a church. The plan is executed by causing doubt, stress, anxiety about taking that first step.

Take the leap of faith. Eternal life is worth expressing a little humility and reverence and obedience to God. Go to church and mark this as the beginning of a great period in your life.

Lots of things are scary.

As a lawyer, the first few times I had to appear in court were absolutely terrifying! Pilots might say the same about solo flights, same with doctors who work in ER or operate solo.

No one ever died of fright.

Try, if you can, going into a church or chapel when there isn’t a Mass on. Take a seat, look around you, take a deep breath if necessary, light a candle and say a prayer or two if you feel inclined.

Remind yourself that you’ve been inside plenty of churches in the past and (presumably) nothing bad happened.

Another option, if you have friends or family who are churchgoers, is to arrange to go with them. That way you’re less likely to talk yourself out of stepping through those doors.

Wow. Your situation is so dramatic!
As the song asks…how long has this been going on?
It sounds like you became frustrated or disallusioned with several things all at the same time–school, church, health…and it all came crashing down on you and you have a lot of mixed emotions built up about everything and it’s creating anxiety.
Maybe you need to sort out your thoughts and feelings. Maybe a bit of therapy would help?

You’re not going in alone, so what’s to fear? Your Guardian Angel is accompanying you. The fallen angels may be holding you back. Ignore them and proudly walk in with God’s chosen companion for you. You can ask the Lord to send other angels to your aid, too. They will arrive in great numbers. Why let Satan and his kind keep you from the Lord? You will receive all the help you need. Just ask for it!

I agree with the opinions/advice of all the above posters, and would like to add one more possible explanation for your trepidation.

Do you feel that somehow you are unworthy to enter a church? That unless you are perfect, you can’t cross the threshold?

God calls all from where they are right now. It doesn’t matter if you are still questioning, feeling unworthy—whatever. Your desire to enter is just the first step–you don’t have to have it all figured out before you enter.

I’d say, no matter what happens, just propel yourself through the door. Hey, I fainted in church during a packed Easter service when I was in junior high. Ooooo, look at me, I’m still here! :slight_smile:

Maybe you could try contacting the parish priest and meeting him somewhere other than a church and express your fears & interest in Catholicism, and it might be easier to go into church after that.
Do you have any Catholic friends? If so they could go with you, explain what’s going on during mass, and probably make it more comfortable for you having someone you know there.

I’ll pray that you can find it easier to enter a church and find God too.
I wasn’t in the same situation as you, but I was extremely nervous about going to a Catholic church too, I was only 12 when my interest Catholicism began…a couple of months later I knew God was calling me to his church. My family was/still is very protestant, and a lot of my family is anti-catholic, and opposed my decision, but my mom was open to it after I kept my religon a secret for a year before finally telling her because I knew that so many people were anti-catholic and was terrified that she would be the same. I was Baptized last Easter Vigil, I’m 14 now, and I do not know where I would be if I hadn’t taken that chance and told my family. I really hope you can get past this! Like I said, I’ll be praying for you

How about baby steps?
How about first going into a church not even to attend Mass, but to sit there, alone and quiet to pray?

Just a thought. :slight_smile:

Here is another thought – did any of your health issues involve resorting to New Age practices? If so, such involvement could have driven you out of the Church and be preventing you from going back. Might be worth looking into…

Well, some things I can think of… one, maybe you’re afraid they’re going to judge the hell out of you. I can understand that. Two, maybe you’ve had a bad past and that plays into number one. Or maybe, three, Satan is literally assaulting you. Or all of the above. I once went to a baptismal service at a non-denominational church because I had been Protestant for years but received an invalid baptism. I always had a bit of a sacramental hunch you could say, and that drove me to try to get one done. Well, I walked into the church an BAM! I went from normal to feeling my mood sink and my mind twist into an abyss of fear and sorrow in a matter of seconds. I ran out of the church hysterical and hid in the woods for about an hour. BUT, later on my need to get baptized spurred me on to, among other factors, really inspect what I believe and try to discover the True Church. Through a domino effect that led me to become Catholic. Just saying, God can turn anything for good.

Ask Mary to cover you with Her Mantle so that you have the gumption.

This is something I’m trying to do.

I don’t have anyone to come to church with me. I’m the single church-goer in my immediate family, and some have shown anti-Catholic views.

I’m seeing a therapist. It’s helping a LOT.

This seems like it could be something to do with this. I was a Christian for some time, and then drifted into deistic thinking. I now feel kinda guilty that I have in some way let God down and done something completely unforgivable.

God calls all from where they are right now. It doesn’t matter if you are still questioning, feeling unworthy—whatever. Your desire to enter is just the first step–you don’t have to have it all figured out before you enter.

I shall keep this in mind.

I’d say, no matter what happens, just propel yourself through the door. Hey, I fainted in church during a packed Easter service when I was in junior high. Ooooo, look at me, I’m still here! :slight_smile:

Reminds me of my first worship gig where I fainted…on stage. In front of 350 people. I still played for almost two years in that band.

I used the occasional ‘alternative’ health cure but nothing related to the occult or New Age practices.

Post clipped so I can keep my post shortish…

I think it’s a case of number two over anything else. I had some pretty bad experiences in my old church and it’s likely this has left its mark mentally. I’ve also personally done things I’m not proud about which are likely feeding into this sense that if I go to Mass, I’ll be judged.

I don’t know, why does it? in other words, the answer is within you.
Fear of holy things in general according to classical spiritual writers stems from a sense of sin, so that may be the place to start. Go to confession and return to the sacraments. You do this in the same spirit, but more urgency, as you would begin brushing and flossing your teeth, turning from junk food to a healthy diet, etc. Just do it.

If there is real fear and anxiety, look for a physical or psychological cause and seek appropriate treatment.

nobody in church is judging you, they don’t know your soul, only the priest in confession can do that, and he is their to absolve and forgive, not to judge. The other people in church are too wrapped up in their own problems to even consider much less judge you. If for no other reason, go there to pray for them.

Try going into an empty church for a few weeks.

I had a quick look at posts that you’ve started, and there’s one on how you were finding it very hard to forgive someone for the way he’d treated you. I don’t want to make insinuations, but I wonder if your relationship with him was within the bounds of Chrisitan morality.

Either way, I think the devil’s got a bit of a grip on your emotions at the moment. For a start there’s the fact there’d be some guilt about not remaining within the church while you were at university and subsequent actions.

There’s the issue of lack of forgiveness.

And there’s the fact you’re thinking of going Catholic. If you do, you’d be in the home church, and the devil won’t like it.

What you’ve got to do is simply tell him to rack off, take his “fear” sensations and go and play his stupid game somewhere else, go to church, sit down and simply observe the mass. Then, if you want to become Catholic, contact the parish that you think you would to attend, and ask about the RCIA course. In the meantime, while you’re waiting to start the RCIA, just keep attending the mass. You’re not going to drop dead, and it’s not God who’s keeping you out.

There is, you know, a spiritual world, and the devil really can play games with your emotions. In fact, I’d say a lot of the sort of “fear” that a lot of Protestants have about the Catholic Church comes from the devil. There’s a barrier, and he exploits it. I remember reading where a Catholic in Ireland (or maybe it was a Protestant) found that when he wanted to walk down a Protestant street, there almost seemed to exist this invisible, virtually impenetrable barrier of fear. But when a Protestant friend took him by the arm and walked with him, the fear disappeared. Mind you it may have been the other way around.

I mean, what other logical explanation have you got?

Nope, we were little more than friends. We were also band members, as we worked together on music stuff together also.

Either way, I think the devil’s got a bit of a grip on your emotions at the moment. For a start there’s the fact there’d be some guilt about not remaining within the church while you were at university and subsequent actions.

There’s the issue of lack of forgiveness.

At the time my reasons for leaving my church were seemingly good. I’d basically come to a point where I felt completely and utterly spiritually starved and I was only going to suffer should I have stayed there.

Now I look back, I could likely have done something about it. I could have found another church. I could have spoke with my pastor or found some other ministry in my church and immediate religious community.

In short, I made excuses.

And there’s the fact you’re thinking of going Catholic. If you do, you’d be in the home church, and the devil won’t like it.

What you’ve got to do is simply tell him to rack off, take his “fear” sensations and go and play his stupid game somewhere else, go to church, sit down and simply observe the mass. Then, if you want to become Catholic, contact the parish that you think you would to attend, and ask about the RCIA course. In the meantime, while you’re waiting to start the RCIA, just keep attending the mass. You’re not going to drop dead, and it’s not God who’s keeping you out.

I’m already in the process of finding some way of attending RCIA. I’ll find some way to attend regardless of anything else. I’m determined to not be defeated.

There is, you know, a spiritual world, and the devil really can play games with your emotions. In fact, I’d say a lot of the sort of “fear” that a lot of Protestants have about the Catholic Church comes from the devil. There’s a barrier, and he exploits it. I remember reading where a Catholic in Ireland (or maybe it was a Protestant) found that when he wanted to walk down a Protestant street, there almost seemed to exist this invisible, virtually impenetrable barrier of fear. But when a Protestant friend took him by the arm and walked with him, the fear disappeared. Mind you it may have been the other way around.

I mean, what other logical explanation have you got?

This is the problem: for all my supposed brain power and logic, I can’t think of any other real explanation.

Well. I don’t think anyone’s mentioned this one yet, but…i could be that you just don’t “believe” ?

I believe in God with all my heart.

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