On neither Rediscovering nor Recovering from Catholicism

I woke this morning to find a new book on my coffee table — Rediscover Catholicism.

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My mom was here last night.  Just briefly.  For a quick dinner before we went out to view Christmas Lights at the Botanic Gardens.  She never mentioned it.

The thing is, I don’t need to rediscover Catholicism.  I know Catholicism not only better than most “Catholics” I know, but better than most “devout”, “practicing” Catholics I know.

I have not only read the Bible regularly and in its entirety, I have studied the Catechism of the Catholic Church repeatedly and in depth.  I have read many of the Encyclicals.  I have read many of the writings of the Doctors of the Church.  I have read much from contemporary Catholic authors.  I became a Lector and Eucharistic Minister following my confirmation at 12.  I taught CCD from that time until I was in my early 30s.  At different points, I have been employed by my diocese as the Catholic student minister on my college campus and as a parish Education Director.

But I have never just agreed blindly with the Church’s teachings.  I am a questioner, I am a researcher, I am a thinker.  Certainly, there have been many points at which I have had to examine incongruities between my heart/mind/soul and the Church’s teachings.  Sometimes I have been able to reconcile those and sometimes I have not.

But those variances cannot change the fact that the Church has been important to me, to my family history, my personal history… my individual identity.

And yet, a few years ago, I gave up Catholicism for Lent.

I gave up the regular practice, at least.  I may or may not have given up Catholicism completely.  I may or may not have given up Christianity completely.  My own experience is that they are still with me and will likely always be.   They have provided much that I appreciate and am grateful for, much that I will continue to hold tenderly within me and which will continue to influence the energy that I exert in the world.

Now what I try to reconcile is the space between being/identifying as Catholic and being/labeling myself as a “Recovering Catholic”.  I don’t want to feel as if I am in recovery, the connotations of which are that I or my history is anguished or broken or unwell.  I don’t want to identify with the anger and blame that so often come with taking that name.

And that is the purpose of this blog.  It is about learning how to move beyond my roots of Catholic (and other) indoctrination and making the transition gracefully.  About recognizing, exploring and expressing both my gratitude for the very real gifts of my past and my enthusiasm for the limitless joy of a chosen faith future.


10 thoughts on “On neither Rediscovering nor Recovering from Catholicism

  1. I feel a similar sense of research and discovery. I have less experience in the faith as you, and have not yet come across something that has made me question my beliefs. However I too cannot understand how people can blindly participate in something that they know so little about. The information is available, take advantage of it. Knowledge is power. Good luck on your journey towards discovering what is true to you. I admire your honesty and willingness to follow your heart.

    • Amanda, Much gratitude to you again! Fortunately, this journey is not about a crisis of faith, but about the growth of it beyond the structure of religion. It is positive and full of light, and I am so happy we can share with one another! ~ marissa

  2. You said it all Marissa – growth beyond the structure of religion – very wise words if I may say. To me that’s exactly what religion is, an institution; faith is something completely different. Follow your heart, follow your light and you’ll discover faith that no book nor religion can explain it. Or teach you how to get it 🙂 Irina.

  3. In general questions are not very welcomed in any religious institution and that certainly includes Catholics. I am, and suspect you are also, a person who by nature asks “why?” and that gets me in trouble sometimes. It got me thrown out of a Lutheran church because I would not take the Bible as 100% literal truth. But after really studying it how could I?

    I have been on a spiritual quest for over four years now. I am now focused on being a follower of Jesus Christ and not so much a member of any current day institution. They all seem to be about what to believe instead of what to do. That is very perplexing to me.

    Keep on asking questions. It is the only way you will really know God.

  4. Marissa: Wow! Really candid post! I appreciated reading it. Happy New Year! Have you read Graham Greene’s Travels with my Aunt. Not quite a Catechism, but nourishing for me. 🙂

    “Are you really a Roman Catholic?” I asked my aunt with interest. She replied promptly and seriously, “Yes, my dear, only I just don’t believe in all the things they believe in.”

    Happy New Year!

  5. I found your blog on (not) “rediscovering” Catholicism to be refreshing for a number of reasons. God’s Word reveals a personal God who loves when His children ask honest questions. He loves spending time with us and revealing more of His character and nature to us. The “church” of Jesus Christ will never be contained within a brick and mortar building, but will only live in the lives of True believers. God wired me to be an evidence based analytical type. Still, I can attest to this: faith and logic are friends, not enemies. I hope you will continue reading God’s Word and discover the fullness of the magnificent plan He has for your life, and the gift of grace, through faith, that He so freely offers.

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