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5 years ago  ::  Jun 08, 2010 - 2:44PM #1
Anilorak13ska
Posts: 39

I am a lifelong cultural Catholic who has recently become a Christian.  (For me, being Catholic was not about following Jesus but about following church laws which only sometimes referred to Jesus, so my experience as a Catholic was not Christian.  This is not at all to say that Catholics are not Christians.  This has just been my journey home.)


 


I have been a seeker all my life, and I can appreciate God's hand in various religious traditions.  Since coming to the Lord, He has drawn me closer to trying to understand His goal for my life.  In the process, I have become more and more convinced that the single moral guidance that I need for my life is not so much the Bible, or the New Testament as a whole, but exclusively the four Gospels. 


 


I find that since most of the remainder of the New Testament is Paul's teachings, based on his interpretation of Jesus's teachings as the Holy Spirit inspired him, it is secondary to the Gospels.  Furthermore, I believe that just as the Holy Spirit inspired the early church fathers who wrote and compiled the New Testament, the Holy Spirit continues to inspire each and every one of us, and it is not through dependence on ministers, denominations, or the Bible (outside the Gospels) that we find out how God wants us to live our lives. 


 


We must independently commit to being open to the Holy Spirit working in our lives, and we must allow Jesus's words and example (which is found in the Gospels and only referred to and commented on by the rest of the New Testament) to be our moral guide.


 


I have read a little about what's called the unchurching movement (similar to the unschooling movement, which is a form of homeschooling that is not based on a predetermined curriculum but on the child's individual interests and talents, in an effort not to stifle the intellect but to enrich it and help it grow), which has helped me understand why I have stopped feeling the need to attend church, although I would still like to, if I were to find one that actually taught and lived out the true message of Jesus, which in a nutshell is to love God by serving His people.


 


But other than that, I find myself alone in my Christian journey, bc most of what I hear by other Christians is quotes from Paul, or even the Old Testament, as a way to judge (yes, judge) others and ourselves.  But my guide and light is Jesus Christ, no one else.  And only the Gospels tell me His words and show me His example, by which I am to live my life.  Everything else is commentary, not my moral compass.  As they say, the devil is in the details.


 


I have visited a Quaker meetinghouse twice, and I have mixed feelings about the idea of joining them and making them my "church home".  On the one hand, I felt incredibly welcome by all, and I could tell that as individuals and as a group, these folks shared my ideas of equality and environmental justice.  On the other hand, the group isn't very diverse (99% Caucasian and mostly older than me by at least a generation).  On the one hand, I found the idea of silent worship very meaningfull, as I have been to several silent retreats from the Catholic stance, and each one has brought me closer to God on my journey.  On the other hand, I do wish there was also an outlet within the Quaker house for the study of the Gospels and contemporary Christian praise music.


I essentially stopped going to church when I realized that I would not find a "perfect" one.  But I do feel that I would benefit from the community that church brings, especially as it pertains to encouraging me and holding me accountable to loving God by serving people.  I feel a tingling of wanting to go back, and to challenge my desires to be in a place I'm comfortable in one regard but not another.


I realize there are some Quakers who do not identify themselves as followers of Jesus, and that is troublesome for me, even though I appreciate all religions.  I just want to surround myself with like-minded people, is all. 


Thoughs? Ideas? Suggestions?  I'm in Northern Virginia.  Thank you!

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4 years ago  ::  Feb 15, 2011 - 2:55AM #2
Akiliana
Posts: 2

Wow,


You are singing my song here, everything from the Catholic life to the Gosple only way of spiritual guidance.


I hope you find what you are looking for, and when you do, point me in that direction.

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4 years ago  ::  Feb 15, 2011 - 8:56AM #3
Anilorak13ska
Posts: 39

Akiliana - You might not believe me if I tell you where God has led me over the past year and a half...


I lingered around the idea of Quakerism for a good while.  In fact I entered spiritual guidance with a Quaker.  One thing she told me that has stuck with me has been that sometimes God leads us THROUGH something, not necessarily TO it.  As much as I liked the idea of the unprogrammed Quaker meetings, the liberal theology and open-mindedness of the Friends... I couldn't say that I felt complete in my worship experience.  I missed Catholic ritual, but specifically the Catholic ritual I grew up with - the Polish Catholic Mass. 


Luckily, there's a Polish parish in our metro area, so we became parishoners there and started attending.  It's a bit far, so we don't go every Sunday, but once I went a few times, the other Sundays I've started going to the local English Masses.  Several weeks ago God put on my heart the idea of veiling, which I resisted so much in my hayday of feminism, that I actually didn't wear a veil to my wedding.  And yet, I found myself feeling compelled to cover my hair, which I did full-time for nearly two weeks, as I continued to research the idea from various Christian perspectives.  I found that the Catholic perspective was the easiest for me to accept, and I realized that God had to literally hit me over the head (in my case, with fabric) to make me realize two related issues - a more modest and feminine wardrobe (which I have been lacking), and a more biblical approach to my marriage (my stomach would turn at the thought of "headship"). 


I now try to dress in skirts or dresses when going out, and I cover my head when in church.  And an amazing thing happened this past Sunday.... see, since I took my husband and me out of the Catholic church when I started this journey, he went along with it.  But when I started going back to Mass a couple of months ago, he wouldn't go to Communion anymore.  I was afraid that I had permanently cut him off from the faith.  Well, this past Sunday was the first Sunday I kept my hat on in church and wore a dress, and lo and behold, with no prompting from me, he went to Communion!


But what does this have to do with "Gospel-only"?  Well, I remember going to a talk once where I learned who compiled the books of the New Testament... ie, the early church.  And this was based on the already-existant church tradition.  Then I learned that the Catholic view on a lot of things (the veiling thing being one of them) is much more liberal than a lot of other Christian views. 


I'm still not a fan of St. Paul, but I realized that there is no perfect church, and if I waste any more time looking for it, I will have missed lots of opportunities to worship and serve God.  So I returned to the one church I felt was home, imperfect as it is.  And having gone through my journey, I now see that the fact that I never felt like a Christian as a Catholic before is not the church's fault.  Catholics ARE Christians, if they make up their minds to be.  Sadly, there are lots of cultural Catholics, like I was, and like pretty much my family still is.  But that doesn't mean it's the only way to be Catholic.


So this is where the Lord has led me.  However, I also now understand that the Catholic church doesn't teach one must be Catholic, or even Christian, in order to reach heaven.  People of "good will" do benefit from Christ's sacrifice.  He died for ALL of us.  He opened the door to heaven for us... but we still must walk through the door ourselves, and we do this through the way we live our lives.  Faith without works IS dead, and most of the other Christian churches I looked into seemed to push the idea that the right belief is all you need to spend eternity with God.


I hope you find God wherever He needs you.

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4 years ago  ::  Feb 22, 2011 - 12:50AM #4
Akiliana
Posts: 2

 


Sister once again, you're singing my songs... a bit. It's because I can relate to SO much of what you're saying that I want to elaborate a bit of what I've been going through.


I love the Catholic church, I think that as far as its approach to Christianity it is probably one of the more liberal and living religions in the name of Jesus.


I've left and come back many times, I even felt the urge to wear the veil, and I wore it for about a year.


You know those Christians who say "Once saved always saved"? I know a lot of them, and we argue a lot. I tell them that to me Christianity isn't a destination, it is a journey. Accepting Jesus and loving him and his teaching puts us on the right path, but we can certainly wander off it time and time again. I try to stay on the path but there are times when the path doesn't seem so clear any more.


I love Jesus and his teachings, I want to be like him and be loving and forgiving, to show mercy to all. I don't want to be anti-gay or anti- any group of people. Jesus didn't seem particularly concerned with homosexuality while he was here, so why is it such an ugly hate-fuled part of a "loving" faith now?


I belive that God gave us our minds to use and I think that the Catholic Church has a pretty decent track record in critical thinking these days... I also think that we as a Church need to be more compassionate. We need to be more understanding and more loving.


I love my God and I love my heritage (Mexican Catholic here btw, so I totally understand the whole Cultural Catholic thing)


I don't think I would choose another organized Church over the RCC but I think that in my current place I cannot make peace with some things.

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4 years ago  ::  Feb 22, 2011 - 1:00PM #5
Anilorak13ska
Posts: 39

I've noticed the more I split hairs and talk to non-Christians/Catholics, the more I am taken off course.  I have to ask myself, do I have to be right?  Does anyone have to be right?  Can anyone be right about something as ultimate as the Creator of the Universe?


Today on the radio I heard that we shouldn't seek a religion, but rather a relationship.  If we seek that first and foremost, the religion part will fall into place.  God will let us worship Him within the context that is most meaningful for us, so long as we have Him at the center of our lives.  This is an ongoing lesson and struggle for me.  It's so much easier to "do" religion than to "be" a child of God.


 

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3 years ago  ::  Feb 05, 2012 - 2:35PM #6
Elleigh
Posts: 1

Even though my focus is on the the relationship with God, I am finding that the scriptures outside of the gospels are interfeering with that relationship. I have grown up in a Conservitive Christian community whose flag to die for was the entire Bible, ever single word. The idea that maybe the words other than Jesus' could be nothing more than human commentary is threatening to my friends and family and is causing great strife. I am interested this thread. It gives me an amount of comfort to know that there are others who are coming to the same conclusions. 



Thank you for posting! 


El

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