Sunday, August 26, 2012

Yet Another Sunday of Not Going to Church

It's Sunday and I'm not going to church. Opting out has nothing to do with this afternoon's walk-through of our new house, tomorrow morning's closing, or our move in three days. I haven't been to church in a very long time. 

That's not entirely true. 

A few weeks ago, I visited a Presbyterian church as a "secret shopper" for a clergy friend under consideration for a call. Many months earlier, I left an Episcopal worship service before Communion. I walked out backwards, a technique perfected while working as a pastoral associate and then as a lay liturgical minister. It would be more accurate to note that I haven't attended Mass at my parish in a very long time. 

Why not? 

I love my parish. Being run by Jesuits practically guarantees smart sermons and competent liturgy. It also guarantees a community that takes seriously the Ignatian meme, "people for others" by actively serving those in need. As for the building, the beautiful sanctuary does indeed evoke feelings of sanctuary. Gorgeous music. 

So what's my problem? 

For one thing, the new, which is to say throwback to old, language of the Mass. We're almost a year into this linguistic carnage but other, more pressing issues like censoring religious sisters and getting involved with U.S. partisan politics currently have Roman Catholics in an uproar. And while I'm also steamed about that stuff, at least I can stop reading all about it. If I attend Mass, I have to hear a liturgy that reminds me of . . . nothing good.

For another, there's the gluten-free Host hassle, too long to get into here and now. Stay tuned. 

Do I miss Mass? 

The last time I allowed myself to go deeply into my feelings about not going to Mass and not receiving Communion, I ended up sobbing myself into near-hyperventilation. 

Well over a decade ago, when asked why the h-e-double hockey sticks I was becoming Roman Catholic, I lobbed the shot back with, "Can't become a lapsed Catholic until I become a Catholic." 

Big laughs all around. At the time. Now? Not so much. Lord, have mercy.


  1. My hearts breaks for you as I read this. I honor your choices and understand (at least I think I do) why you are making them. My heart, broken and otherwise, is always with you my friend.

    Mazel tov with the house-y things.

  2. Fran,
    Your comment is balm and blessing. I have no idea how this is going to net out. I'm staying focused on my "life verse" which you probably heard this morning: "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

    God has a plan, God only knows what it is re: church-the-building!

  3. Meredith, we all find our own way to our Lord and you have certainly not abandoned your faith. Blessings and prayers as you work through this with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

    I hope all is good on the house front as well.

  4. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life...

  5. Heartbreaking is the word that came to ny mind, too. My heart goes out to yours.

    Wishing you as easy a move as possible and a happy landing.

  6. For what it's worth - the year I spent without a church was a really great year with God for me. I don't know that God would even go to church if he for real walked among us.

    Being a spiritual island is lonely, but so is being in a church where you're unhappy. Nothing made it better that year. Spiritual moments made my heart ache and fake community made me nauseous.

    Maybe that's where your spiritual strength is right now. In the people that know God is way bigger than a building and have no fears about your faith.

  7. I have travelled along with you for a good while and you have always been right there at so many crucial moments in our struggle with "church": sadness,joy,stagnation,empowerment,
    success,faith, hope and love.So I am still bonded alongside you now, broken hearted,praying and blessing you my friend.

  8. And truly, Phil, reading your blog has provided great comfort and affirmation many times and continues to do so. I may not being going to church and uber-dismayed by the antics of our Men in Black, but yesterday someone made a snotty comment about Catholics and I got all offended! Fancy that.

  9. Like family - I can criticize my children and spouse but if anyone else does -- "katy-bar-the-door"

  10. I'm praying for you, Meredith. I pray you are soon able to return to Mass at your parish or at another Church home. I pray this because, as much as you may need them, they need you, too.

    Come, Holy Spirit. Guide our feet at all times, but especially on Sunday mornings.


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