Several months back, I was out with some friends who distanced themselves from the Church for one reason or another.
They tell me that fallout from Church sexual predators scandalized them. I'm sure it did, but what doesn't make sense to me is why they blaming and alienating yourself from God. It's a bit like throwing your pilot overboard because a storm rocked your boat.
Would you cut off a relationship with your mother if her landlord turned out to be a polygamist?
How do Sacraments get tangled up in the scandalous conduct of church employees? Nobody quits their job when their colleague turned out to be a pedophile. The Sacraments are much more important than a paycheck.
God is love, wisdom, guidance, compassion, comfort, mercy, salvation. People who love one another want to be with one another. God, His Angels and Saints are very much people we are spending time with.
When Catholics tell me they've stopped receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ, I try to dig deeper to understand what's really going on. Usually, their crisis of faith is about family sickness, suffering, tragedies, death or anger over Church teaching.
Their experience of God is going through the motions of nuisances, rules and obligations that don't mean anything to them or God anymore (or so they think). It's a caricature of a god who makes up meaningless rules like we're all going to hell in the handbasket if we don't use the pogostick for a couple of hours on Sunday mornings.
Personally, I'm not a chance taker with my salvation. So if an infallible Magisterium told me I had to use a pogostick for a couple of hours on Sundays, I'd likely take the time to do it. I'd figure it was God's way of keeping me from getting diabetes and dying before my job on earth was complete. My experiences with God are, He has a reason for everything, even if I don't understand it at the time.
There are plenty of good reasons to find a new parish. But, if you are in a place where you are telling yourself the brokenness or sins of others in the Church are reasons for you to abandon Christ Himself, or find yourself in a serious crisis of faith, I agree with a priest in our comments section:
Individuals, when they are angry with God, tend to lash out at His Church.
I’ve silently read many comments, here and elsewhere, over a long period of time and a pattern has shown forth from certain individuals which clearly indicate an anger with God Himself, but which is directed at His Church, which is the only really tangible (yet Divine) thing to attack in this world. How do you attack the Divine? By striking at the work of the Divine.
All peoples are sinful and in need of our Divine Savior, including those within the ranks of the clergy of His Catholic Church. The Church should be full of saints, YES, but, sadly, that is not and has never been the case. Just because I may be angry with God about something that was not good, just, right, or beautiful in my own life, does not mean that God is to blame for that nor does it mean that His Church is to blame for that.
Unless the individual addresses this anger at God, by admitting the truth of the matter, and seeking Divine forgiveness and help, there is a grave danger of eternal damnation.
This reflection from Cardinal Sarah's Power of Silence is an outstanding perspective on the source of suffering and evil in our lives and in the Church:
Christians know that God does not will evil. And if this evil exists, God is the first victim of it. Evil exists because His Love is not accepted, His love is misunderstood, rejected and resisted. The world in its harmony and beauty can be formed only in a dialogue of love in which God exchanges with us, and we with him. If evil affects God himself, it is because there is a divine wound that we must heal, a wound that unceasingly calls for our generosity. Thus, all of Christianity, all of divine revelation from Genesis on, is the cry of God's innocence. The more monstrous the evil, the more evident it is that God, in us, is the first victim.
So, when we find ourselves stuck in a spiritual rut, what steps can we take to deepen our intimate friendship with Christ?
The first thing to do is a good examination of conscience and hit the Sacrament of Confession. Go to Mass more than once a week. Once you are cruising in a state of Grace, focus on better communication with Christ.
Take the time for honest reflection in front of the Blessed Sacrament to figure out the real reason you abandoned Christ and His Sacraments.
If it's a problem with Church teaching, commit yourself to reading the writings of Saints on the subject matter. Tell Christ and His Mother that you're setting aside your own agendas and want to know and understand the truth. St. John Paul II pretty much tackled all of subjects that push our buttons. His writings are kind, compassionate and uncomplicated.
If you are struggling with a more personal issue, make an appointment with a solid priest. Concisely explain your situation and ask him to help you resolve your obstacles to Sacramental Life.
Do a lot of reading. Turn on EWTN and watch its programming.
Pray, especially the Rosary.
Prayer is the communication tool with intimate friends. Be present with your heart, will and intellect and talk to God about your life - your joys, sorrows, family, friends, relationships, work. Ask Him to make you aware of His sorrows, challenges, victories and ask Him how you can help.
Prayer is not 'thinking' or talking about things with God. You are looking (and asking Him) for supernatural guidance and resolutions.
This is the part I always have trouble with: The hard work of listening.
Prayer is a dialogue. When we ask God for guidance, He speaks back to us in the silence of our soul through awareness, understanding and inspiration. How often we dismiss his help and guidance.
I recently responded to God's call to help a person drowning in dysfunction and errors. I found myself in a six-month drama like the old joke:
A fellow was stuck on his rooftop in a flood. He was praying to God for help.
Soon a man in a rowboat came by and the fellow shouted to the man on the roof, "Jump in, I can save you."
The stranded fellow shouted back, "No, it's OK, I'm praying to God and he is going to save me." So the rowboat went on.
Then a motorboat came by. "The fellow in the motorboat shouted, "Jump in, I can save you."
To this the stranded man said, "No thanks, I'm praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith." So the motorboat went on.
Then a helicopter came by and the pilot shouted down, "Grab this rope and I will lift you to safety."
To this the stranded man again replied, "No thanks, I'm praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith."
So the helicopter reluctantly flew away.
Soon the water rose above the rooftop and the man drowned. He went to Heaven. He finally got his chance to discuss this whole situation with God, at which point he exclaimed, "I had faith in you but you didn't save me, you let me drown. I don't understand why!"
God replied, "I sent you a rowboat and a motorboat and a helicopter, what more did you expect?
Been there/done that so many times, it doesn't take me long now to recognize I can't get out of first gear because I'm running on mortal power.
You also have to recognize when someone you are trying to help declines God's assistance and reluctantly fly away. Catholics tend to overcommit to helping a person who won't accept the help. I'm like a moth to the flame of that disaster zone.
It takes a lot of effort and time to develop a trusted friendship and good communication with God. Just like every other relationship. The payoff is better than hitting the lottery.
I don't want to go through the motions
I don't want to go one more day
Without your all-consuming passion inside of me
I don't want to spend my whole life asking
What if I had given everything?
Instead of going through the motions..
Go all the way or go home!