It never ceases to amaze me when I hear Catholics give reasons and excuses why they don't go to Church, but still claim to be Catholic. I never hear, "I'm a non-practicing Catholic" or I don't consider myself Catholic anymore."
Jennifer Fulwiler's article entitled, "5 Questions Before You Leave the Church," stopped me in my tracks. The author Anna Quindlen's announcement that she can't "ratify" the church's behavior by still sitting in the pew is almost laughable. She is on a book tour by the way. Can you say Anne Rice?
Being lukewarm about your faith is one thing, but actually leaving the church is quite another. I think Catholics who don't practice, still want their foot in the door because they figure they still want the baby baptized, or their grown child married in the church, or, they are on their death bed and suddenly they have a major change of heart and they want a priest. For most non-practicing Catholics, I don't think leaving is an option.
I'm a convert (as is Ms. Fulwiler) and I took that very seriously. Someone on my Facebook page asked me if I converted for love. I said, "No, I converted for my soul." They pointed out to me that "love" showed me the way and that's definitely true. But I had decided that if I did convert, I would convert whether I got married or not.
I wanted to change my life and I did. I wanted to change it in a major way even if marriage wasn't in the picture. The life I was leading was unsatisfying and empty.
Out of all Ms. Fulwiler's questions, number two resonates the most with me: "Are you sure your faith life would be better outside of the Church?" I didn't have a faith life outside of the Church. I was directionless. I was trying to follow a culture that was telling me to be a "liberated woman" (which meant multiple sex partners like a man).
Since my conversion, I did get married to a man who showed me how to live my faith. The three kids we have are true miracles, because I was NEVER going to have children.
My husband and I are in music ministry together. It's been a true blessing to sing every week for God and His people. Growing up, singing and playing guitar for an "audience" was a pipe dream.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that my whole life would not be better without the Church. Had I continued the way I was all those years ago, I don't know where I'd be today. My guess is, single, childless and bitter. Or even more frightening: ending up just like my mother who was a vicious and evil woman. I would have never taken care of her in her last years, if I had not converted.
When, I said "yes" to God, His Son, the Holy Spirit AND His Church, the blessings came ten-fold.
I'll never leave.