I grew up in a Catholic home.
My mom has been involved in the Catholic Church for a very long. Most of her school years were in Catholic schools like Holy Names in Spokane, WA. My Dad grew up Lutheran and converted to Catholicism many years later. From grade four through grade eight, I went to a Catholic school. I loved God and I loved the Church. The Catholic Church was everything to me. I remember being in awe of the ritualism and the emotional power of a good sermon.
It is because of a good sermon that 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 is, and will always be, my favorite scripture in the Bible: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled, where there is knowledge, it will pass away.”
Love, the greatest commandment Christ ever said.
Just love one another as I have loved you.
I wanted to be a priest and serve God. I loved God with all my heart and soul. I figured by being a priest I could serve God. By serving God, i could serve the larger community abroad. Understanding a calling is one thing, but understanding the rules is another thing entirely. As I continued through middle school, I grew quickly disillusioned with certain rules of the Church like no women clergy and birth control was a sin. The biggest thing that forced my faith in a blackened pit of despair was the overwhelming realization that priests were getting away with child molestation. these men who were supposed to serve the community through their service to God, took advantage of the the most vulnerable at times they were the most vulnerable.
Eight grade ended and I left the Catholic school. I went into high school and, one day one, discovered what the next four years was going to be like. Bullying. At times violently. I hated God. “I loved you! I worshiped you! I was going to give my life to you and you allow these boys to do this to me? FUCK YOU GOD! I HATE YOU!”
I left the church and I left God.
I became agnostic and then atheist in about a six-month period. I then went for the next two decades in a self-imposed empty, spiritual void of nothingness. I had sexual contact with a man, got divorced from my wife, and accepted pieces of Buddhism and Hindu into my spiritual walk. My virtue of these three things, I can never accept sacrament or be a Catholic again.
I miss the Church. I miss being Catholic.
The only chance I have now at redemption through the Catholic Church is through the unprecedented reforms being created by Pope Francis. Maybe someday someone like me would be welcomed back into the Church…no questions asked.
This man will set his eyes on God.
And, hopefully, I will embrace Him as I enter the gates of Heaven.