From time to time I am asked why I am no longer a Catholic. I don't often give a very long answer --mainly occasions for long conversations are too few in modern life. So, since I have a blog, I figure I have endless time to answer the question here. Most likely, no one who has asked the question will ever read this, and very few people read this anyway. But at least I can practice my writing skills and talk to myself. I'm easily entertained.
Reason 1: I didn't meet Christ in the Catholic Church. I was "christened" a Catholic, or so I am told. I don't remember it. I also don't remember my circumcision nor having no teeth, but believe that all these events did happen. Of course being told that I was christened was itself a mystery. The only christenings I had ever seen had to do with people breaking champagne bottles on the bows of ships before their first voyages. Actually, I have never "seen" that either. Not in real life. But I have seen it in movies.
As for me being Christened, I am supposing that no one broke a bottle of Cold Duck over my baby head. At least I hope not. Water sprinkled on my head and a man in a robe praying something in Latin is more likely what happened. To be a Catholic is like that. It was something that was done to me. I didn't choose it. I was "Catholicized" as a matter of course in my babyhood. This ritual, I would learn later, would have certain benefits to my soul.
My family, on both sides, identify themselves as Catholics. Almost none of them are devout Catholics of course. But is someone if getting born, married, or buried, off to the Catholic Church they are likely to all go. We never went to church much. I know I didn't. I always like the stained glass. Besides that, it was a bore when I was a kid.
When I got to be about 12 or so, my dad seemed to feel a duty to make us go to Mass every week. This lasted about year. During that time, I finally made my first communion. Most Catholics do this much younger, but it is easier this way. CCD classes and communion get knocked out at the same time. It was at CCD class that I learned that the altar boys weren't that religious --in fact, one of them kept going into the church fridge and drinking the wine. I guess you can do that before it is blessed and you won't get struck by lightening. At least he never was.
Anyway, I learned that when I eat the wafer it is really the body of Christ. This was a revelation to me, and very curious. Many times I remember going back to my seat with the wafer in my mouth, tasting like paper. I had gotten in line and when I got to the front, the priest said, "Body of Christ" and I said "Amen" and then he put it on my tongue --we were old school --we didn't take the bread in hand and feed ourselves. We took the body of Christ right from the big guy. As I would walk back I would often think, "The Body of Christ doesn't taste very good."
During that year or so that we went to church regularly we would often duck out during a prayer near the end. This also can be done without getting struck by lightening, apparently. I asked my Dad the first time, "Can we just leave?" He answered, "It's okay. You just have to stay for the communion." I think he wanted to get us out of there because he never liked small talk and didn't want to hang around chatting with a bunch of folks about how nice the mass was. Especially since the mass was a bore and everyone knew it. One thing I did like about being Catholic, though --church was fast. 45 minutes and out! I had friends who went to the Baptist church and they were stuck in there for two hours! Chumps.
After I'd left home at the tender age of 17, I went back to Mass on my own, one time. It was Christmas Eve. I remember going to church, but this time, I really wanted to hear from God. I don't know why. I just did. My girlfriend and I found a church (I had never been to one in the area we were living before) and parked my car there and went inside. I was under dressed. This was because I didn't own any "dress up" clothes. I had left home on less than good terms and didn't take much with me. My usual clothing consisted of Levi's and a Van Halen T-shirt.
But what struck me that night wasn't the way people were dressed, but rather how bored they all looked. Here I was looking for God, and very conscious of the fact that I was an "outsider" in their church community. They were insiders, dressed nicely, and looked tired and bored and as if they were going through motions. After about a half hour of this, I found myself becoming angry. What was I doing here? I said to my girl-friend, "Let's get out of here." We went back to my car, but couldn't leave. The parking lot was so full that I had to stay until after the Mass so everyone else could come out and move their cars. We stayed in the car.
Dozens and dozens of times I stood, sat, kneeled (if you have never been a Catholic, you might not understand that part, but let’s just say that if you had arthritis, you were in for a long morning). I did a little Sunday school as a kid, CCD as a junior high kid, and recited all the stuff every week. Never did I meet Jesus. A stranger would one day tell me that Jesus died so that I could be forgiven if I would just believe. At the time, I didn't understand what this stranger meant, but my heart was hungry to find out. I went looking for Jesus, but I didn't go to the Catholic Church anymore. I went to other churches, until I found what I was looking for: a relationship with Jesus that was worthy of my whole life. The Bible came alive to me. I couldn't get enough of reading it. My entire life changed at the age of 19 and 20 as I enjoyed my new faith. I met people who were serious about Jesus and enjoyed the community of believers that I now realized could be found in churches in every town. I had found God and He had found me. But not in the Catholic Church. Why did I leave? Well, I don't know. Why would I have stayed?
TO RESTATE: I am not saying that I am not a Catholic because of a boring Christmas service. That was simply my historical last straw. I am not a Catholic because of all the times I attended Catholic Mass, I never met Jesus. Therefore, when I was a Catholic, I wasn't even a Christian. I became a Christian outside of the RC. That is a major reason that I am not a Catholic.
This ends part 1, but it is not the end. Since becoming a true Christian, I have thought much about the Catholic Church and my heritage. I now have more educated reasons why I am not a Catholic. Part 2 will begin to explore those.