Just a few weeks after I was born, I was baptized into the Catholic faith. I grew up going to church with my extended family every Sunday, and I attended Catholic school from kindergarten to my senior year in high school. From this I developed a core set of values, and I had a guide to which I tried to follow to live a holy life. Right around the time I started middle school, my immediate family went to church less and less until it seemed we hardly went at all. Honestly, I wasn’t bothered by this one bit because at the time I got absolutely nothing out of going to church. I have always believed in God and tried to please him, but church was not something I felt necessary to do to strengthen my relationship with God. All of this changed, however, when I was on my senior retreat.
There’s not a whole lot I can say about what we actually did on the retreat because I don’t want to give it away to any readers who might still be in a Catholic high school, but I can say that it helped me discover who God really was and what He really means to me. I not only discovered God, but I discovered new parts of myself and was able to gain insight on how other’s perceived me as a person. All in all, it genuinely was the best weekend of my life, and I’m so grateful for it.
After this retreat, I had a new passion for God, and I started going to church every weekend again because I realized church was a way for me to learn more about God, and if nothing else, it was one hour where I left my cell phone (aka connection to the real world) aside, and I was able to focus on my spiritual self. I fell in love with going to church in a way I had never known before.
I continued this way for the rest of my senior year, the following summer, and a few months into my freshman year of college, but slowly, I felt myself becoming less interested in church again. I’d walk out thinking to myself, “Well, that kind of seemed like a waste of my time.” Eventually, I really stopped going all together again.
I never once stopped believing in God or doubted His power and love, but I didn’t feel as close to Him as I once had. So, I went back to church longing to feel His closeness again. I really immersed myself into the scripture and the homily, but to my surprise, I still wasn’t getting anything out of it. The whole mass felt repetitive, rehearsed, and dry. The pews were more empty than I had ever seen them, and there just seemed to be a lack of enthusiasm all together. I really don’t think I can find the closeness I desire in that type of setting.
So now I’m left with the question – what now? I like church, or the idea of church, but I’m starting to think that as I grow older, I need to branch out and experience church outside of the Catholic faith. I’m not at all saying Catholicism is a bad thing. It’s given me so much and shaped me into the person I am today, but it’s also the only faith I’ve ever known, and I feel I’m at a point in my life where I simply want to know what else is out there. All I really want is to find that closeness to God again, and I’m adult enough to know that maybe it lies somewhere outside of the Catholic faith, and I think I’m brave enough to finally find out.
So here’s to a journey that might not be easy or comfortable at first, but a journey that is necessary and will hopefully bring great reward. Who knows, maybe I’ll find that I really am fit for the Catholic church, and I just needed to explore other options to figure that out. I ask for prayers while I rediscover my faith, and I know with the guidance of God, I’ll be just fine.
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite prayers by Thomas Merton.
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.