Posted in church, Raised Catholic, self-actualization, Spiritual Formation

The Top Five Reasons Catholics Leave the Church

The second largest religious denomination in the United States is made up of 42.7 million non-practicing (recovering) Catholics. Being raised Catholic, working in the Church, and then making the decision myself to leave, the following is my professional and personal assessment of what makes Catholics leave.

  1. They no longer feel welcome. While we often hear from the Church, “all are welcome,” in reality, this is not entirely true. Whether it has been explicitly stated (“Only Catholics in good standing are welcome here”) or implied by specific Catholic teachings, many no longer feel welcome in the Catholic Church.  Those most likely NOT to feel welcome include those who are: divorced, gay, transsexual, women or married men called to ordained ministry.  Also included in this number are those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, who have suffered an abortion, who are poor, the mentally ill, those who are called to exercise primacy of conscience over Catholic doctrine, and those who have been sexually assaulted by members of the clergy.
  2. Their spiritual needs are not being met. The deepest longing in the human soul is to know the source and origin from whence we came and to where we will return. In theistic terms, we long to know God. In human terms, we long for peace, contentment, joy, to know that we are loved and that we belong.  This longing can only be satisfied from within and while the Church has a rich tradition of resources and tools for supporting people in this search and in satisfying this longing, very few ever come to know these tools.  If they cannot find these tools within their own church, they tend to search elsewhere.  Many Catholics are now finding these tools within Buddhism, Yoga, Native American, and Pagan spirituality.
  3. Their need for psychological growth is not being met. In order to become spiritually, emotionally and psychologically mature, human beings need to search. We need to question and challenge the faith we grew up in.  We need to explore beliefs and practices outside our faith.  In my experience, the Church does nothing to support this exploration, even going so far as to discourage it.  Those who question are condemned as being disobedient or blasphemous.  If a safe place for questioning is not provided, people will simply leave for other spaces where their natural drive toward growth is supported.
  4. Their need for meaning and fulfillment (self-actualization) is not being met. The Catholic Church does a fantastic job of preaching about spiritual gifts and our responsibility to live out those gifts in service to God and in service to the world. Unfortunately, it does nothing to support people in the discovery, cultivation or empowerment of these gifts.  Neither does it provide the resources for helping people move through the fears that might otherwise prevent them from realizing and sharing these gifts.  I suspect the unacknowledged reason for the Church not providing these resources is because it takes psychological and spiritual maturity to fulfill our Soul’s purpose….which brings me back to #’s 2 and 3 above.
  5. Hypocrisy When the religious institution to which one belongs says one thing and then does another, it becomes difficult to remain. Sadly, the Catholic Church is woefully guilty in this regard.  It says, “No sex before marriage,” while young children suffer sexual assault at the hands of an underdeveloped (and unaccountable) priesthood.  It says, “live simply” while its bishops live like kings. It says feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick while it turns a blind eye to many of those in need.  It says, “Love one another,” while it continually builds walls between those who are “saved” and those who “are not.”  I could go on and on…..but I think you get the point.

If you are one among the second largest religious denomination in the U.S. of non-practicing (recovering) Catholics, I suspect none of what I mentioned above is new to you. My hope is that in sharing this, you know that you are not alone.  In fact, you are one among a multitude and there is a home for you here.

If you are still feeling the pain of grief, guilt, anger, frustration or longing in making the decision to leave your Catholic faith, you might find comfort in my online course: Healing Our Religious Wounds. Click on the icon below to learn more.

 

Posted in Being Human, Midlife Journey

Midlife and Another Existential Crisis

For many adults, midlife, perimenopause and menopause put everything into question.  We question our vocations, our place in the world, our relationships, our family of origin, our past, our present and our future.  It is also during midlife that many question their beliefs – who or what do we believe in and why?  Today, I share with you an essay I wrote during one of those times of questioning. This essay came out of a period of study in which I was deep in the midst of Indian and Buddhist philosophy, and quite frankly, tired of being told that the path to enlightenment was to sit down, shut up, quiet the mind and silence my passions. 

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Another Existential Crisis

I don’t know about you, but trying to attain enlightenment or striving for some sort of spiritual perfection only leaves me feeling anxious and assured of failure.   After beating my head bloody against the enlightenment door, I threw my hands up in surrender, sat down hard on my ass, with the cold steel door of enlightenment against my back, and quit.  In surrendering, in quitting, in ceasing to strive after enlightenment, I finally found peace.  Liberation came to me on that day when I realized that I am already Divine and that the reason I am here, the whole point of the human experience is just this – TO BE HUMAN!

So, if I’m here to be human (and maybe you are also here for this reason), why should I deny my passions, set aside my desires, sit down, shut up, quiet my mind?  Why do I have to be perfect, sinless, emotionless, bulletproof, impervious to pain? Instead, why not harness the creative energy God gave me?  Why not give voice to the words God wants the world to hear through me?  Why not dance, scream, shout out my anger, rage, wrath, sorrow, pain, despair, worry, depression, anxiety, panic and fear?  Why not poke the sleeping giant and set fire to a sleeping world?

God is the only God there is….why do we think we have to be him/her/it?  Can’t we just be the human beings God/dess made us to be and be happy with that?????  And where is the theology that allows us to be human?  Frankly, all I see in the world religions is a whole lot of teachers telling us we have to learn to be like God. I’m all for practices that help us to find inner peace, to cultivate empathy and compassion and which empower us to work for the betterment of the world.  And, if we came from God and are going back to God, aren’t we here to be something other than God?  And if we are here to be something other than God, then perhaps there is a place for our anger, impatience, passion, desire, lust, restlessness, etc. etc. etc.  So that being said…….

Where is the theology that doesn’t reject the way God/dess made us – unique expressions of the ever-living and ever-creating God, seeking to be known in the world?  Where is the theology that doesn’t ask us to deny, repress, suppress or transcend all of what makes us human?  Where is the theology that acknowledges that creation and growth come out of chaos, tension and pain?  Where is the theology that gives honor to the pains of birth instead of condemning them as a curse or as punishment for some mythological ancestor’s sin?  Where is the theology that honors as sacred the fecund, fetid, putrid, bloody, oozing condition of the human experience?  Where is the theology that sees passion and desire as God’s longing to be known and to be made known?  Where is the theology that allows us to be human in all the ways God wishes to experience the gift of being human? Where is the theology that doesn’t expect us to be God or that doesn’t set the drive for enlightenment as the supreme and ultimate task of our existence?  Where is the theology that acknowledges all that is good and holy and sacred in the human condition?   Where is the theology that recognizes that our origin is divinity and that we are here to simply be human?

Lauri Lumby mentors men and women in their journey of living as their true and most human self.  To schedule a one-on-one, phone or Skype session, call (920) 230-1313 or email lauri@yourspiritualtruth.com.