10/24/2005

A Wrench in the Works (Famous Last Words)

My husband grew up Roman Catholic and left that church a year or two before we met. He joined the same mega-church that I did when I moved here, and we met there at an event for singles. He has always seemed quite happy at the mega-church when we show up, but since our baby has been born, we have been less frequent attenders for reasons of logistics as well as issues with the church's handling of families who want to worship together (Hint: they'd prefer you use the nursery.).

Lately, as I've posted before, I have been attending a small Anglican church on my own that I truly enjoy -- I grew up in a liturgical tradition (Lutheran) and I find that if I set my mind and spirit to it, I can glean a lot from that format. I also like that in a liturgical church, the congregation participates! The readings, the prayers, the hymns, communion . . . you really have to pay attention and do your part to make it into a real worship experience. At our mega-church, all you have to do is show up and be entertained. You could literally sleep through a service and no one would notice because absolutely nothing is required of you in the way of participation.

So, for the past two weeks, my husband has agreed to accompany me to the Anglican church to see what it is all about. On the one hand, he "gets it" about small church vs. big church, spiritual vs. life application, and participation vs. passivity. On the other hand, he is really struggling with the idea of going "Catholic lite" instead of Catholic. He wonders why we don't just go to the Catholic church since the Episcopal/Anglican church is nearly identical in format. He keeps saying "How can I justify going 'Catholic lite' when we could just go to the real Catholic church instead?"

I keep trying to explain to him that they are not the same thing, because the beliefs differ! There are some major, major disagreements between me (and the Lutheran and Anglican traditions) and the Catholic church (and in my opinion, between the Bible and the Catholic church). There's not a whole lot of differences numerically, but the several that are there are HUGE. I'm talking veneration and devotion to Mary, infallibility of the Pope, transubstantiation, praying to saints . . . these are not small issues, they are salvation issues to me! I see these things as idolatry. I realize the Roman Catholic church disagrees strongly with me on that, and that's fine, but it's the reason I cannot in good faith attend a Roman Catholic church!

Please understand that I don't think Catholics are going to hell. Not in the least. I know they believe in and worship the same Christ I do. But I do think their church is teaching a flawed understanding of these (and other) issues. Since I believe I have been educated with a correct understanding of these issues, I think it would be sin for ME to overlook these wrong teachings and join the Catholic church anyway.

I keep trying to explain these things to my husband, and I'm just not sure he gets it. It's literally like it doesn't register. For him, attending Catholic church would be a simple return to the tradition of his youth, requiring little effort and gaining much approval from his mother and siblings (who were, and are, absolutely scandalized by his break from Catholicism). But for me, it would require conversion. Going to RCIA classes. Getting confirmed. Turning my back on what I have always known to be true. If I failed to do this, I would never be able to participate in communion, which would be horrible for me because I do believe in the Real Presence (just not transubstantiation -- I believe in consubstantiation, and to explain the difference would take so much space as to be a whole other post for another time). Not to mention the fact that my parents would be appalled -- maybe even more so than my husband's mother already is. These things, were I to find The Truth in the Roman Catholic church, would not be insurmountable problems, obviously, since Christ said the Truth would divide even families. But seeing as how I don't believe in the Catholic church at all, I really don't think any of it would be appropriate.

All this time I thought my husband had the same fundamental differences with the Catholic church that I did. Now I'm thinking that might not be the case. He told me last night that he left because he wasn't "being fed." He didn't elaborate and getting him to explain himself is like pulling teeth.

I'm about ready to give up on my search for a more challenging spiritual environment and stick with the mega-church if all the liturgical church is going to do is send my husband back to the Catholic church. I really, really don't want our family to be spiritually divided, and it would be if that happened, because I am not going to convert to Catholicism anytime soon. (Obviously if my husband, as the spiritual head of the household, decided he really wanted us attending the Roman Catholic church, I'd go, but I couldn't in good faith participate! And so we would be divided, and it would be horrible for our marriage and horrible for our son.)

So today, I am wondering if we should just stick with the mega-church because my husband is getting fed there, even if I'm not.

I told him matter-of-factly last night that I think we at just very different places in our spiritual walk right now. That's not good or bad, and it doesn't mean one of us is "ahead" of the other -- it just means we're unique. I guess our job now is to figure out how to stay unified in our uniqueness. Pray for us.

2 Comments:

Anonymous cjmr said...

Five years ago, I could have written most of this post (except that my husband has turned from the Catholic Church to agnosticism). In fact, two years ago I could have written much of this post. Seven weeks ago, I started RCIA. Do I still have issues with some of the things you mention--but they are no longer salvation issues. One thing that I've been finding helpful in the journey, listen to what God is saying to you, not what you want God to be saying to you.

10/25/2005 04:45:00 PM  
Blogger C.C. said...

Thank you for that. That is the trick, isn't it? Listening to what God is actually saying and not just what you want to hear? Someday, by His grace, I'll get better at that!

10/25/2005 08:35:00 PM  

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