on leaving

After my post about emotional triggers I realized that there are still a lot of people who don’t know I’ve left the Catholic Church, or what that means for me.  Of the people that I have told, the responses have ranged from a look of shock, a knowing nod, or questions.  The questions are usually the same.

One of the questions I get asked is the “tipping point” question, as in what, after all this time, finally made you decide to leave?  What was the last straw?  What event, scandal, pronouncement from the Vatican, etc finally caused you to say “enough!”?

There were many.  There were none.

Maybe in another post I’ll write more about the issues I most struggled with in the church (and those of you who know me can probably guess those already).  But in the end, those issues don’t explain why I left.  This was not an intellectual exercise of weighing pros and cons.  This was a soul decision.

The other question I get asked is if I’m leaving the Catholic Church because of a conversion to a different belief system.  Am I converting to a different religion?  Am I joining a church where I could be ordained a minister?  No, this isn’t about wanting to be another religion or another Christian denomination.  I’m not leaving because I’ve found something “better” for me.

The thing is, I’m still a Catholic, and I will always be one.  In spite of everything, “Catholic” is still the best way to describe my spirituality, as well as my cultural identity.  But for me there’s a big difference between being a Catholic and being an active member of the institutional Roman Catholic Church.  It’s the human institution I’m leaving behind, the one that, instead of helping me draw closer to God, was keeping me from more fully experiencing the God who is Love.

The best answer I can give for why I left: I am tired.  For a very long time my soul felt heavy and restless, and the longer I stayed active in the Church, the less peace I found.  I lost sight of God inside the walls of the institution.  It wasn’t until I walked away that I was really able to hear the voice of God’s Spirit, the Comforter.  The Spirit’s voice was a single word: “Rest.”

So here I rest, Catholic but not Catholic, still seeking the intercession of the saints and the counsel of the Spirit, but no longer in connection with a formal faith community.  It is a sad and sometimes very lonely process, grieving a deep loss and facing a lot of uncertainty as to where this will all lead.  But the Spirit’s voice remains, inviting me to rest, and that is enough of an answer for now.

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1 Comment

Filed under Faith

One response to “on leaving

  1. I understand enough to support your decision. I’m not a Catholic and never was a Catholic, but I spent four years in a monastic community. I think if you encountered the right Catholic community of believers — right priest, parishioners and prayer partners — you may not have “left.” But then again, you may have. The point is Jesus is still Savior and Lord. The name over the door when we enter the sanctuary is, always was and always will be secondary to the true Head of the Church. Blessings in your spiritual travels.

    Jim

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