I was born into a Catholic home. We went to church every Sunday, I sang in the choir, and I received all the applicable Christian sacraments. I raised my 3 children in the same manner but somehow I did not ingrain the religious discipline of my own parents practices into my children because somewhere in their young adult lives they made the conscious choice to walk away from organized religion.
I can’t say I’m surprised, nor do I blame them. When I think back on the years when my family were young much of our routines were simply formed from habit; going to church was something we just did. And somewhere in my mid-thirties I came to realize that my heart wasn’t in it anymore. It’s not that I stopped believing in God, no never. I always have and always will. What I do struggle with is the religious ‘organization’ itself.
Society, mankind, whatever you want to call it, has evolved since 24 AD. The Catholic church, on the other hand, sadly hasn’t. Parish priests struggle with a rapidly diminishing flock and family traditions no longer include any religious routine. Does anyone say grace before a meal anymore? Do any of us wake up in the morning and give thanks for a new day?
We’ve become a busy society, too busy. Families no longer have the time to give to the church. Both parents work. Children are busy with studies, and preoccupied with sports, music, friends, part time jobs, life. And by the time Sunday rolls around all are tired and grateful for a day to catch up on homework, housework, or visiting parents/family/friends. Church then takes a back seat, by choice, cause let’s face it, we do have choices. If we wanted to give the church a bigger role in our lives we could, but we don’t, and I think I know why (at least for me)
I struggle with the Catholic church’s refusal to move with the times. Parish priests are not allowed to marry or carry on any kind of ‘relationship’, yet they are required to counsel young couples on that very thing prior to marrying them in a church. How does one counsel on something he knows nothing about? (and don’t even try to sell me on the notion they learn it in the seminary where emphasis is on religious studies and philosophy. Relationships are not taught, they are experienced)
For that matter, why are women still not allowed to become priests? Personally, if I had to take advice on marriage and relationships from someone who’s experienced neither, I would, hands down, pick a woman. I just think women are more compassionate and intuitive when it comes to relationships. For that matter, I think there are many who’d prefer to serve confession with a female versus a male, (although I don’t buy in to the whole confession process at all – I talk to God regularly and if I need to relieve my conscience I do it direct to the big guy himself! I do not need to seek approval or punishment from any of Gods ‘representatives’)
I recently watched a wonderful series on the history of the Popes throughout the ages and was shocked to discover they had all kinds of relations back in the early days of Catholicism. (Apparently not being able to marry didn’t stop them from having children. How’d they get around that…”the Devil made me do it?”) So it seems the laws of abstinence were only enforced much later. (which is a darn shame cause if the church would allow priests to marry and live normal lives, maybe they wouldn’t have to resort to committing these ‘indiscretions’….oh, and you might consider selling off some of the billions of dollars worth of art in the Vatican to pay the settlements to the abuse victims instead of bleeding the resources of the individual diocese that are under the pastoral care of these wayward clergy)
It is unnatural to mandate anyone to live a life of celibacy and I find it hard to believe that a loving God would set such unreasonable expectations of his own children, especially knowing they are mortal, and flawed.
I also struggle with the whole atmosphere at church, and I’ve touched on this in a previous blog. I just don’t understand why going to church has to be so somber. Isn’t mass supposed to be a celebration of our faith? Shouldn’t we come out of church feeling better? I think the short answer is yes, and yes, but we don’t. Too often the homily is delivered as a rebuke for our supposed sins when it should be simply a message reminding us of the right path; something positive and uplifting i.e., you shouldn’t walk out of mass feeling like someone pounded the snot out of you. And again, I don’t think God would’ve intended for his words to be delivered this way.
I don’t insinuate that the bible is just a ‘guide’ by any means, but I do think much of what the church dictates is under the Vaticans’ interpretation of the holy book, and isn’t interpretation personal and somewhat biased? And if society has progressed and adapted their beliefs and behaviours to accommodate change over centuries, why can’t the church? We’re not saying change the word of God. We’re just saying modify the terms of delivery of His word to adapt with society’s progression. Surely there’s room for compromise in every interpretation of His word.
Couple that with the tiresome, morose, drawn out music played in church and it’s a wonder more people don’t leave mass and head straight to a bar to drown their woebegone hearts.
I don’t think the church has ‘lost’ their flock. They have however, lost their ability to effectively communicate with them and that has resulted in a loss of visible support. Those who believe still do and always will, but they will practice their faith on their own terms because they know their God is nothing if not loving and understanding.
Move with the times already.