Why I stay in the Catholic church

Every few months, some disaffected Catholic asks on social media, Why do you stay? Why stay in a church that is in such a shambles?

Some time ago, I had a memorable dream. I dreamed that I had barged in on a plan to renovate our local church building, and the trained and qualified Catholics who were actually on the committee were very annoyed that I was involved in ordering materials and architectural pieces.

I remember feeling their frustration and irritation that I was in the room at all, and I felt fairly sheepish and self-conscious, because most of what they were talking about was over my head. I don’t know anything about building or design. I have some medium-vague ideas about what I like, but I really don’t know how to make it happen.

To keep me busy, they set me to work unloading pallets and unboxing the construction materials, and I sat on the floor in a nest of cardboard and plastic webbing, carefully slicing open package after package with my box cutter, lining up boards and pavers and drywall and tiles and hardware. It was a grunt job anyone could have done. 

So why did I stick around?  Because whoever had packed up the building supplies had randomly secreted consecrated hosts in among the packing materials, and I kept finding them. They were just stuffed in here and there in the most unexpected places. So I couldn’t just leave.

Now you know why I keep writing about Catholic things. Or, more precisely, now you know why I stay Catholic. Or, really, now you know why I get out of bed in the morning.

I am well aware that I’m not highly trained or educated, and it would be hard to argue with people who think I don’t belong. If anyone is going to fix . . . [waves arms wildly] all this . . . it probably should be someone with some expertise.

But I keep finding Jesus, and I can’t just leave.

It was just a dream, pieced together from thoughts in my brain, not a message from God. But I think it’s true. I need to be in the place where I keep finding Jesus. Not only is that a good enough reason to stay, it’s the only good reason.

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12 thoughts on “Why I stay in the Catholic church”

  1. I’m glad you found a reason to stay. In the Church, I was devoured by abusers and predators. My longing to find and serve Jesus was the vulnerability they used against me. Honestly, I wish I could still go to Mass, but a few years ago, the panic attacks got to be too much. I’ve had to go outside the Church to find Jesus, and the good news is, He was looking for me.

    1. ((HUG)) I’m so very sorry.

      I have a similar story. Awake Milwaukee might be a helpful organization for you to look up (if you haven’t already); it’s full of people who have similar wounds and you might find some support there. I have, and it made a big difference for me.

    1. Ann, I don’t want to downplay your faith struggles. But could it be that, if you’re praying for love/faith in the Eucharist, you must already have that faith at least on some level. If something weren’t true or loveable, I wouldn’t care to increase my faith in it. I would just ignore it. So, perhaps you have stronger faith than you realize.

    2. We love what we care for and we care for what we love. If you’ve stuck it out for decades, maybe there is a form of love there, even if just a desire for love.

      I was thinking about this today—how it feels to take a cibborium to the choir loft to distribute Communion. I always want to literally hug it to me—Christ is so vulnerable in the Eucharist. Some people vibe with the vulnerability of the baby Jesus and I see it in the host.

      No pat answers proffered here, just thoughts.

    3. One answer is to live like you do believe and trust God has a reason for putting you through a dark night of the soul.

      I went through a smaller version of that with some other things. It sucks, I’m sorry. Truly. I ended up resigning myself to the idea that God would never talk to me in a personal way again for awhile.

      Mother Theresa went through something like that too, for several decades. Reading her stuff on it might be helpful. Or St John of the Cross.

      That lack of feeling doesn’t mean it isn’t objectively true. If you still believe the Catholic faith to be true, even if you can’t perceive it, then that’s a reason to stay. It’s a painful, lonely reason (I know, I’ve been there) but it’s a reason. You’re going to have to make the call if it’s reason enough.

    4. Then, you study the evidence with great fervor, because if it is true, it’s more than just worth that effort. You study what Christ said, what the early Church believed, look into alleged miracles the Church has said are worthy of belief. Faith is an act of the will, not a change in heart. But there seems to be a mountain of evidence pointing toward what the Church holds about the Eucharist. If you come to that conclusion as well, then it’s irrational to ignore it.

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