I had looked at so many things, arguments, stories and practices in my search for the True God-for the fullness of Truth. A lot of what I tried out was because I met people who introduced me to it, but also because of the way it was dressed up so to speak.
New Age practices are marketed with vibrant colours, posters, gem stones, fabrics. It has a kind of identity with it. There are incense burners, chanting music, stained glass and candles-sound familiar?
Those of us who get into it, get into it because it speaks to something within us. The symbols are real to us.
Our churches ditched the bells, smells, chants and colours and so we went for it all elsewhere.
Modern storytellers understand this and their tents and sets use the same imagery. It's just plain and simple human psychology.
Now Karen asks this:
"But why do people leave? Is it because of what someone DID to them, and they see the Church and its people as hypocritical? Or having tepid faith to begin with, they seize on these incidents as an excuse to "not bother?" I've never expected people in the Church to be sinless - it's unrealistic - and I do believe the Church is a hospital for sinners. And I can't deny John 6 - "Where shall we go?""
I think a lot of people do leave because of what has been done to them. When we are fragile in faith and ignorant of a lot of it we seek the face of Christ in those who claim to be Christians. Be aware of that brothers and sisters in Christ. Many people are NOT going to turn to Scripture to see the Bride of Christ and see past you to Him-they are going to see you and whether He has made you into anything.
My directionlessness and confusion came because I was never shown Christ. I saw cruelty, meanness, spite and hatred-and this from people who basically made it clear they were good holy Catholics with what my friend calls a 'get-into-heaven-free' card.
Once you have a strong faith, know God and know where His Church is-then these people are simply people to pray for. You shake your head and walk away perhaps, but the damage they do to those who are ignorant and frail in faith is deep and long lasting.
Sr Mary Kate was the face of Christ in my life. Her gentleness and real holiness helped me see what Christ could be in my life. I've known her 30ish yrs now, so I know some of her frailties, but I tell you she has never done anything that has truly hidden the love of God.
I stopped going to Confession. I saw those who were being vindictive go to Confession and continue the behaviour-most often on the same day. Then something else happened with Confession where a desperate plea for help was brushed off.
I just couldn't see the point in it.
It wasn't just an excuse because I couldn't be bothered. It was a protest because of a growing level of anger.
Later, once I was safely back in the Church I experienced another one of these 'holy' Catholic people who were actually pretty unpleasant in behaviour and attitude-but with the bulwark of faith under me I was not so unprepared.
Despite what was done-God kept shining a light for me. He sent people who shone their own lights and I could see them and follow.
God works through the people he sends and I think that is why Christ is so strict about those who are stumbling blocks for others.
My friend who has lapsed-yes, she makes 'excuses'-but the damage done to her by other 'holy' people is so great I am surprised she attends any church at all. I am grateful that she does.
I have had to learn that the Church is for the sick. I still find it easier to forgive those who are not Christians. One thing I think about being wounded, is I know I have been a sinner (and still am) but I know a lot of what I did was because I did not have the benifit of Christ and His Church in my life. So I expect those who say they have to be better-far better perhaps-than me. That's the problem. It's one that I am still working on.
Wounds take a long time to heal. It just doesn't help being told to "have faith" or "trust God" or not to make excuses...or whatever other pull-yourself-together-in-a-Christian-sense.
The people who helped me, were just there-acting as Christ like as possible and often, they were silent.
PART 4 just below