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 church, Healing, Raised Catholic

Recovering Catholics – 42.7 Million Strong

The Second Largest Religious Denomination

A few years back, I learned that the second largest religious denomination in the United States (reported by PEW Research, second only to the Roman Catholic Church), is made up of non-practicing Catholics.  I sat down and did the math and the number of people who still call themselves Catholic, but who no longer attend mass on a regular basis is 42.7 million!  That is a HUGE number of people.  If you are reading this blog, you are likely one of those 42.7 million, or perhaps you were raised Catholic and no longer call yourself Catholic, so we can simply add you to this number and we might find that there are in fact 85.4 million Recovering Catholics in the United States. If that were the case, we would outnumber the active Roman Catholic population!!!

StMaryOshkoshaltar

Who Cares?

You might ask yourself, “Who cares?”  Why is this significant information?  What does this prove to anybody, if anything?  Well, it means something to me.  And here’s why:

1) There are a significant number of men and women in the United States that had a particular religious experience growing up which formed them (for better or worse) and which contributed to who they are today.

2) This unique religious experience of being raised Catholic probably continues to inform them (again, for better or worse).

3) This unique religious experience of being raised Catholic becomes part of the marrow, blood and bones of one raised in this tradition and cannot be exorcised no matter how your current religious experience has changed (if, indeed it has).

4) For those who are no longer practicing Catholics, there is a unique form of grief that comes with the separation from Catholicism (whatever the reason for that separation), and there is a unique form of longing that cannot be quenched.

5) There is a unique set of needs residing within the hearts of Recovering Catholics, that for the most part, are not being met.  We cannot get these needs met in another religious institution.  We cannot go to the Catholic Church to get these needs met.  We cannot meet these needs on our own.

6) I am here to help the 42.7 million (or more) Recovering Catholics get those needs met.

 

Click on this image to register.

What are those needs?

I see the needs of Recovering Catholics as the following (and if you see more, please let me know what they are…..and I will see how I can help!):

1) Grief Support:  Catholics leave for a multitude of reasons, most boiling down to the fact that the truth God revealed to them is in conflict with the doctrine of the Church – teachings on contraception, homosexuality, vocations, divorce, remarriage, etc. etc.  Some leave because they have been directly harmed by a representative of the Church – sexually abused by a priest, physically or verbally abused by a teacher, counselor or lay minister, given incorrect information about Church teachings that made them feel unwelcome (like a certain family member who was told they were no longer welcome to come to communion simply because of a divorce).  No matter the reason, when we leave a community in which we were one time a member, even if the parting is our own decision (kind of), there is grief.  Recovering Catholics need support for the grief they experience in leaving the Institution behind, or in being asked to leave.

2) Resolution: Many Catholics (especially in the past), who left or were asked to leave, were asked to leave based on faulty information.  A representative of the Church misinterpreted the doctrine, or interpreted it to fit their own personal agenda.  For these people, the healing is helped when they learn the faulty nature of the information.  Yes, this will certainly stir anger, but for some, it opens the door to their return….something many are ultimately longing for.  Recovering Catholics might not seek this resolution from a priest, so I can be that bridge….if this is what they need.

3) Longing:  In my generation and the generations that follow, the number one reason I have heard for people leaving is because in the Catholic Church, their needs were not being met.  Specifically, the desire to:

Know themselves.

Know God.

Find Inner Peace.

Know their Gifts and how they are called to use them.

Find meaning and purpose in their lives.

The Catholic Church, most often, attempts to meet these needs through religious formation – the dissemination of doctrine, or doesn’t even go so far as that and simply stands in the belief that providing you with an opportunity to attend mass and receive the sacraments is enough.   Unfortunately, this is an intelligent and wise population of men and women who are looking for something more than to have their heads filled with rules and regulations, history and traditions.  And for many, the mass is not relevant (or the homily given at mass isn’t relevant).  They want DEPTH!  They want something that has meaning and relevance in their own lives and which allows them to know God personally, not just through someone else’s interpretation.  In short, what they are looking for, but don’t have the words for, is Spiritual Formation – something the Church has not done a good job of making available to the men and women in the pews. Spiritual Formation just happens to be one of my areas of expertise!

4) Validation: Recovering Catholics also desire validation….and they deserve it!  They have been formed to use the brain God gave them to reason, discern and exercise truth.  And, many, if not most, grew up in a culture that lost its trust in authority.  They/we have come to question authority and to not blindly follow simply because we were told.  Instead, authority has to be earned and our own reasoning minds need to be validated.  We need to be given credit for having a brain and an intelligent thought and the freedom to challenge and question what we are being told.  In the Institutional Church, questioning is often discouraged or outwardly condemned.  What the Institution has forgotten is that the most important stage in faith development is the questioning and searching stage.  If the Church really wants mature disciples, this stage needs to be honored.  If the Institution will not welcome these questions, I am happy to do so!  I’m excited to see how your questions will help you grow….and me as well!  🙂

If you are a recovering Catholic and looking for support, I am here for you.  Call (920) 230-1313 or email lauri@authenticfreedom.love to find out more. 

Click on this image to register.

 

Posted in church, Raised Catholic, the bible, Truth

Healing Our Religious Wounds – new online course

Online course

Do at your own pace

23 modules

Only $49.99!

(content heavy and fiscally light)

Click on this image to register.

While religion has provided a great service to humanity, it has also done great harm. If you are one who has felt harmed, rejected, condemned, judged, ridiculed, stifled, silenced, by religion, you are not alone. In fact, the second largest “religious” denomination in the United States is made up of 42.7 million non-practicing Catholics – those who have left the Church because they no longer felt welcome or at home.  Perhaps like me, you are one of those.  Whatever it is that brings you to this class, “Healing Our Religious Wounds,” know that here you are welcome!  Through this course you will find acceptance, unconditional love and support for healing the wounds that you experienced at the hands of religious institutions or from those associated with that religion (even when those may have been your own parents or loved ones).

The structure of this class will be four-fold:

  1. To name and claim the harm that we have experienced through religion and to find unconditional support for claiming these wounds.
  2. To grieve the losses that we have experienced as a result of these wounds: loss of community, loss of familiar rituals, loss of perceived belonging, loss of God*, loss of self.
  3. To provide a space upon which you can heal religious wounds by confronting some of the core “beliefs” that are often the platform upon which this wounding has taken place.
  4. In doing so, providing space in which you can build a belief system of your own, perhaps discovering that in doing so, you don’t have to throw the baby out with the bathwater (which many, sadly have).

The format of this course will be part storytelling, part recorded lecture, part written content, and part personal reflection and meditation.  You are invited to share what you are comfortable sharing throughout the course and you are free to refrain from sharing if this is how you are called.

Topics Covered:

  • Telling our story
  • Grief
  • Guilt
  • Images of God
  • Re-examining “The Trinity”
  • The question of salvation
  • Jesus – Redeemer or Revealer?
  • Scripture
  • Outside perceived authority vs inner truth
  • Prayer – speaking to vs. listening to God
  • Religion vs. Spirituality
  • Naming and claiming your own truth

*A note about “God.” Throughout this course you will see the use of the word “God.”  I will also interchange this with “The Divine.”  Please know that in the use of these terms, I impose no specific belief or understanding of what that means….but that it has nothing to do with the traditional “Old Man in the Sky” god and everything to do with the “God of your understanding.”  If you have a hard time with the word “God,” please feel free to replace it with “Love” or “Peace” or any word that describes your current understanding of our Origin and our Source.

Please also note that I will be using Judeo-Christian scripture throughout this course. I do so because it is the primary text which has been used as a weapon for harm.  In my own healing journey, I have discovered the beauty of scripture when examined through the light of love.  Scripture was never meant to cause harm, but to be a vehicle through which we can find ourselves, and in finding ourselves, finding our own understanding of “God.” My hope in using scripture, along with the proper tools, is that you will find this also to be true.

What you will need:

  • Yourself
  • A computer with internet access
  • A notebook or journal
  • A music source (your computer will suffice)
  • A box of crayons (Crayola 64 count is my favorite)
  • Time

As an additional source of support, I have created a “Secret” Facebook group (meaning only members can post or have access to the page) for course participants. Here you are welcome to share your own journeys and to connect with others healing through this process.  This is purely optional, but please use this resource if you feel so called.

 REGISTER HERE. 

From the Course’s Welcome and Introduction:

Since the beginning of time, human beings have created belief systems, rituals and communal practices to support and give expression to their search for meaning. For many primitive cultures, religion became a means of trying to survive in an otherwise unfriendly world. Beyond mere survival, as sentient beings we are driven by an inner longing to know who we are, to understand the workings of the universe and to somehow participate in the universe’s ongoing act of creation.  Religions were created in an effort to fulfill this longing.

Historically, the development of religious systems has proven helpful in gathering people around a common set of beliefs and cultural practices, providing a system of education and support through the inherent rites of passage in the human journey (birth, coming into adulthood, coupling, aging, death), and supporting humanity in developing necessary codes of conduct and systems for addressing breaches in that conduct. At their best, religious institutions bring humans together, support them in their psycho-spiritual development and equip them for living out the fullness of their human potential while being of service to the betterment of the world.

Many religious institutions are not, however, functioning “at their best.” Instead, many have risen up out of systems of fear, power and control, or as an adversarial response to other systems of power.  As a result, many religious institutions are functioning not as a system of support and empowerment, but instead are seeking control.  In many cases, fear and intimidation are the vehicles of control as those in power seek to rule over those who are not.

As a result of this disparity of power, many thousands of human beings have been injured – told they are unworthy of the love of their God, made to feel less than because of the person God made them to be, or flat out rejected because of their gender, sexual orientation, or life choices. In some cultures, people are even being killed because they disagree with the ruling religious power.  And what about all of those who have been sexually abused by those in religious power and those who are still being abused?

 REGISTER HERE

Posted in Authentic Freedom, Being Human, church, God, Inspiration, Jesus, Lessons, Oneness with God, Raised Catholic

Claiming What is Truly Ours

“We are afraid of her. For centuries we have wanted nothing to do with her. Now she returns into our midst. She is substantively weighted down by a special knowledge. She is saturated with hidden forces. Her one key move is to claim what is truly hers without shame.” – Ellias Lonsdale from his book Star Speaks as quoted at www.thecosmicpath.com.

darkgoddessaltar-jpg

 What is truly mine? What is truly mine?  What IS truly mine?

When I reflect on these questions, what comes to me is MAGIC. Magic has always been my inheritance.  The magic of my ancestors.  A dark, intuitive, mystical magic.  A magic that infuses one with the courage and endurance to stare down the darkness of the human condition.  To be present to pain, struggle, fear, failure, challenge, heartache, heartbreak, betrayal and abuse and live to tell about it.  The magic to not be destroyed by the darkness, but to find my way through it.  This is the victory – to not get swallowed up or destroyed by the darkness, but in the darkness to find myself.  And in finding myself, discovering the tools to help others find themselves. 

Life is death and life is pain, this I know all too well. But lying within the darkness is also the light, if we have the eyes to see.  As a germinating seed has to break through its shell and then push its way through the darkness of the earth to find the light.  So too is this our truth – OUR truth.  In order to become the fullness of our potential, we must find our way through the darkness. 

What led me into and through the darkness, ironically, are the same. What led me into and then led me through the darkness is my faith – specifically, the Catholic faith in which I was raised.  Here I met my “God.” Here I was courted by my “God.”  Here I fell in love with my “God.”  Here my “God” betrayed me.  In this I came to know what Jesus knew  – that I too am a uniquely gifted Daughter of “God,” called to be God’s love in the world.  But even more than this, I came to know what Jesus REALLY knew – in order to truly be the “Son of God,” he had to find a new god.  As he was hanging there, dying on the cross, Jesus found a new God and this God was not the God “out there” who had forsaken him, instead, it was the Divine Self within to whom Jesus surrendered his spirit.  The God he “knew” now became truly known.  At the end of our life, there is truly no one there, for all dwells within ourselves and here we have found our way home.

This is not nihilism, this is truth. And yet, we are also never alone.  For within and among us are all the Souls who have gone this way before us.  And with these Souls, and all the Souls yet to express themselves, we are one.  We are together and we are One.  And in our Wholeness, there is God.  The wholeness of who we all have been and all the potentials of who we are yet to become.  The Creative vision of the universe forever and always discovering, creating and recreating itself.  The seed becomes the sprout, becomes the plant, becomes the blossom, becomes the fruit, becomes the seed – the never ending cycle of creation – birth, life, death, the time in between and the cycle starts all over again.

sacred-heart-immaculate-heart

All of this I discovered through my Catholic faith, or rather, I discovered this in the Jesus that was hidden within my Catholic faith, hiding behind centuries of dogma, doctrine and man’s need to have power and control. This was a Jesus that LIVED – no longer worshipped as he hung broken and bleeding on the cross, thereby making suffering our “God.”  Instead, this was the Jesus who was fully human.  This was the Jesus who loved, who laughed, who knew desire, who sometimes became angry, afraid and despairing and who in this, tasted the fullness of the human experience.  This was the Jesus who was killed by selfish and greedy men who felt threatened by the truth he came to reveal – the truth of a Divine within where true authority dwells.  This was a Jesus who listened to his heart, who came to show people love and who experienced love himself.  And in this love, he also experienced heartbreak – the betrayal of friends, the loss of family and the ultimate heartbreak of all – having to be beaten, tortured and killed while the woman he loved stood watching.  This was the Jesus I came to know when “God” came calling.

This is the Jesus who shows us the way – if we have the eyes to see and the ears to hear – to see and hear beyond man’s need to twist Jesus’ message for their own political agenda, who turned Jesus’ message of love to one of divisiveness and fear. “We are the One true faith and all others are going to hell.”  This is not what Jesus came to teach.  Instead, Jesus only taught love and the consequences of choosing something other than love.  If he learned nothing else by his human experience, it was that we all have a choice.  Choose fear or choose love.  The way we feel within ourselves is then determined by this choice.  Do we allow the inherent suffering of the human condition to destroy us or do we seek out the love hiding in the midst of the darkness?  THIS was Jesus’ magic – the ability to see the love no matter where or how deeply it was hiding.  This, I must admit, is my magic too….even in the days when I am sure the darkness will destroy me, I somehow always find my way through.  This is what I came to learn.  This is what I come to teach.

This is what is truly mine, along with everything that helped me find my way here –

What is truly yours?

 

 

Posted in Authentic Freedom, Raised Catholic, Spiritual Direction, Spiritual Formation, Spiritual Practices, Virtual Church

Non-Practicing or Recovering Catholic?

 

The second largest religious denomination in the United States is made of up 42.7 million non-practicing Catholics – men and women who were raised Catholic but, for whatever reason, no longer practice.  42.7 million – this is a staggering number and is only the tip of the iceberg as this number does not include those who no longer identify themselves as Catholic.  If you are one among those numbers, read on, this might be something of interest to you:

Are you looking for:

  • A spiritual home?
  • A convenient way to be nourished, comforted and inspired spiritually?
  • A way of being spiritual without being dogmatic?
  • Freedom from doctrine?
  • Support for your own spiritual views which might be very pluralistic (accepting of many faiths and beliefs)?
  • A relevant Jesus?
  • A way of being Christian that doesn’t judge or condemn other faiths?
  • A spiritual community that walks the talk?

(or are you one of the 42.7 million non-practicing and recovering Catholics looking for a home?)

Then you might enjoy participating in the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church.

jesusThe Authentic Freedom Virtual Church is a community of men and women who consider Jesus to be our teacher, while honoring the spiritual truths inherent within all sacred traditions.  We recognize the Divine as that which is at once outside of us, within us and present within all of creation and which can be acknowledged by any Name, Image or Presence.  We believe in the inherent potential of all human beings to become self-actualized and acknowledge the spiritual journey as a formative tool in this endeavor. We believe in the law of love and seek to know more fully the love of the Divine that dwells within us and which seeks to be known in the world through us and which then serves to support the betterment of our world.

The Authentic Freedom virtual church is not about doctrine or prostheletizing, but is instead focused on being a resource for spiritual formation which then leads to self-actualization.  Through sound spiritual formation, you will be empowered to discover the answer to the following three questions:

  • Who am I?
  • Whose am I?  (What is my understanding of the Divine and what is my relationship to that? or What is the Source of inner peace and contentment and how do I cultivate that?)
  • What are my gifts and how am I being called to use them for my own personal fulfillment and in service to the betterment of the world?

Abraham Maslow called this process, self-actualization. Bill Plotkin calls it the birth of the Soul. Through the process of self-actualization, we discover the uniquely creative way in which we have been gifted to find meaning, purpose and fulfillment in our lives and through which we are compelled to serve the betterment of the world.

Participation in the Authentic Freedom virtual church will be facilitated through:

1)      The Weekly Authentic Freedom Virtual Church service available on this site through paid subscription.  Please view sample services through our YouTube channel HERE.

1)      The Weekly Agape’ Spiritual Practice newsletter where you will be given suggestions on specific meditation and creative practices to help support your own spiritual development.  This is available as part of your paid subscription to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church.

Access to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church services and Agape’ Meditation Newsletter are available through subscription at a very reasonable fee of $20.00 per month.  Subscribe HERE:

subscribe botton

 

 

Thank you for being a part of our online virtual community…..the new way of being Community in the 21st century. 

Sincerely,

Lauri Ann Lumby

Pastor and Spiritual Director of the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church

Posted in Jesus, Virtual Church

Looking for a Spiritual Home?

 

Are you looking for:

  • A spiritual home?
  • A convenient way to be nourished, comforted and inspired spiritually?
  • A way of being spiritual without being dogmatic?
  • Freedom from doctrine?
  • Support for your own spiritual views which might be very pluralistic?
  • A relevant Jesus?
  • A way of being Christian that doesn’t judge or condemn other faiths?
  • A spiritual community that walks the talk?

(or are you one of the 42.7 million non-practicing and recovering Catholics looking for a home?)

Then you might enjoy participating in the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church.

jesusThe Authentic Freedom Virtual Church is a community of men and women who consider Jesus to be our teacher, while honoring the spiritual truths inherent within all sacred traditions.  We recognize the Divine as that which is at once outside of us, within us and present within all of creation and which can be acknowledged by any Name, Image or Presence.  We believe in the inherent potential of all human beings to become self-actualized and acknowledge the spiritual journey as a formative tool in this endeavor. We believe in the law of love and seek to know more fully the love of the Divine that dwells within us and which seeks to be known in the world through us and which then serves to support the betterment of our world.

The Authentic Freedom virtual church is not about doctrine or prostheletizing, but is instead focused on being a resource for spiritual formation which then leads to self-actualization.  Through sound spiritual formation, you will be empowered to discover the answer to the following three questions:

  • Who am I?
  • Whose am I?  (What is my understanding of the Divine and what is my relationship to that? or What is the Source of inner peace and contentment and how do I cultivate that?)
  • What are my gifts and how am I being called to use them for my own personal fulfillment and in service to the betterment of the world?

Abraham Maslow called this process, self-actualization. Bill Plotkin calls it the birth of the Soul. Through the process of self-actualization, we discover the uniquely creative way in which we have been gifted to find meaning, purpose and fulfillment in our lives and through which we are compelled to serve the betterment of the world.

Participation in the Authentic Freedom virtual church will be facilitated through:

1)      The Weekly Authentic Freedom Virtual Church service available on this site through paid subscription.  Please view sample services through our YouTube channel HERE.

1)      The Weekly Agape’ Spiritual Practice newsletter where you will be given suggestions on specific meditation and creative practices to help support your own spiritual development.  This is available as part of your paid subscription to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church.

Access to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church services and Agape’ Meditation Newsletter are available through subscription at a very reasonable fee of $20.00 per month.  Subscribe HERE:

subscribe botton

 

 

Thank you for being a part of our online virtual community…..the new way of being Community in the 21st century. 

Sincerely,

Lauri Ann Lumby

Posted in church, Healing, Raised Catholic

Recovering Catholics – 42.7 Million Strong

The Second Largest Religious Denomination

A few years back, I learned that the second largest religious denomination in the United States (reported by PEW Research, second only to the Roman Catholic Church), is made up of non-practicing Catholics.  I sat down and did the math and the number of people who still call themselves Catholic, but who no longer attend mass on a regular basis is 42.7 million!  That is a HUGE number of people.  If you are reading this blog, you are likely one of those 42.7 million, or perhaps you were raised Catholic and no longer call yourself Catholic, so we can simply add you to this number and we might find that there are in fact 85.4 million Recovering Catholics in the United States. If that were the case, we would outnumber the active Roman Catholic population!!!

StMaryOshkoshaltar

Who Cares?

You might ask yourself, “Who cares?”  Why is this significant information?  What does this prove to anybody, if anything?  Well, it means something to me.  And here’s why:

1) There are a significant number of men and women in the United States that had a particular religious experience growing up which formed them (for better or worse) and which contributed to who they are today.

2) This unique religious experience of being raised Catholic probably continues to inform them (again, for better or worse).

3) This unique religious experience of being raised Catholic becomes part of the marrow, blood and bones of one raised in this tradition and cannot be exorcised no matter how your current religious experience has changed (if, indeed it has).

4) For those who are no longer practicing Catholics, there is a unique form of grief that comes with the separation from Catholicism (whatever the reason for that separation), and there is a unique form of longing that cannot be quenched.

5) There is a unique set of needs residing within the hearts of Recovering Catholics, that for the most part, are not being met.  We cannot get these needs met in another religious institution.  We cannot go to the Catholic Church to get these needs met.  We cannot meet these needs on our own.

6) I am here to help the 42.7 million (or more) Recovering Catholics get those needs met.

 

Click on this image to register.

What are those needs?

I see the needs of Recovering Catholics as the following (and if you see more, please let me know what they are…..and I will see how I can help!):

1) Grief Support:  Catholics leave for a multitude of reasons, most boiling down to the fact that the truth God revealed to them is in conflict with the doctrine of the Church – teachings on contraception, homosexuality, vocations, divorce, remarriage, etc. etc.  Some leave because they have been directly harmed by a representative of the Church – sexually abused by a priest, physically or verbally abused by a teacher, counselor or lay minister, given incorrect information about Church teachings that made them feel unwelcome (like a certain family member who was told they were no longer welcome to come to communion simply because of a divorce).  No matter the reason, when we leave a community in which we were one time a member, even if the parting is our own decision (kind of), there is grief.  Recovering Catholics need support for the grief they experience in leaving the Institution behind, or in being asked to leave.

2) Resolution: Many Catholics (especially in the past), who left or were asked to leave, were asked to leave based on faulty information.  A representative of the Church misinterpreted the doctrine, or interpreted it to fit their own personal agenda.  For these people, the healing is helped when they learn the faulty nature of the information.  Yes, this will certainly stir anger, but for some, it opens the door to their return….something many are ultimately longing for.  Recovering Catholics might not seek this resolution from a priest, so I can be that bridge….if this is what they need.

3) Longing:  In my generation and the generations that follow, the number one reason I have heard for people leaving is because in the Catholic Church, their needs were not being met.  Specifically, the desire to:

Know themselves.

Know God.

Find Inner Peace.

Know their Gifts and how they are called to use them.

Find meaning and purpose in their lives.

The Catholic Church, most often, attempts to meet these needs through religious formation – the dissemination of doctrine, or doesn’t even go so far as that and simply stands in the belief that providing you with an opportunity to attend mass and receive the sacraments is enough.   Unfortunately, this is an intelligent and wise population of men and women who are looking for something more than to have their heads filled with rules and regulations, history and traditions.  And for many, the mass is not relevant (or the homily given at mass isn’t relevant).  They want DEPTH!  They want something that has meaning and relevance in their own lives and which allows them to know God personally, not just through someone else’s interpretation.  In short, what they are looking for, but don’t have the words for, is Spiritual Formation – something the Church has not done a good job of making available to the men and women in the pews. Spiritual Formation just happens to be one of my areas of expertise!

4) Validation: Recovering Catholics also desire validation….and they deserve it!  They have been formed to use the brain God gave them to reason, discern and exercise truth.  And, many, if not most, grew up in a culture that lost its trust in authority.  They/we have come to question authority and to not blindly follow simply because we were told.  Instead, authority has to be earned and our own reasoning minds need to be validated.  We need to be given credit for having a brain and an intelligent thought and the freedom to challenge and question what we are being told.  In the Institutional Church, questioning is often discouraged or outwardly condemned.  What the Institution has forgotten is that the most important stage in faith development is the questioning and searching stage.  If the Church really wants mature disciples, this stage needs to be honored.  If the Institution will not welcome these questions, I am happy to do so!  I’m excited to see how your questions will help you grow….and me as well!  🙂

If you are a recovering Catholic and looking for support, I am here for you.  Call (920) 230-1313 or email lauri@authenticfreedom.love to find out more. 

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Posted in church, Raised Catholic

Where Have All the Catholics Gone? – Part I

Today’s blog explores the mass exodus of Catholics to somewhere else.  Why did they leave and where have they gone? Today we explore the why.  Monday, we will explore the where.  PS  This blog might be about you!

Staggering Statistics

Several years ago while attending a church-oriented workshop, I learned two very interesting statistics:

  • The single largest religious denomination in the United States is Roman Catholicism. 
  • The second largest religious denomination in the US is comprised of non-practicing Catholics. 

Today I learned the staggering statistics that back up this information.  According to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostalate (CARA), in 2011, there were 77.7 million self-described (on a survey, they identify themselves as Catholic) Catholics in the United States.  Of those 77.7 million, only 22% attend mass on a weekly basis.  And of those who identify themselves as Catholics, 42.7 million are no longer practicing Catholicism.  Let’s state this another way:

  • 17 million Catholics out of 77.7 million attend weekly mass
  • 18 million Catholics out of 77.7 million are only participating marginally
  • 42.7 million aren’t participating at all

Note:  These numbers are only related to those who in a survey on religion would identify themselves as Catholic.  It does not address those who were raised Catholic and no longer identify themselves as Catholic.  I have to wonder what the numbers are for these folks! 

Where are the 42.7 million and all the ones not counted???

These statistics beg a very important question:  What happened to 42.7 million self-identified Catholics?  This is an enormous audience of people who are no longer participating in the Church that they identify themselves as belonging to.  Where did they go and why?  Today’s blog explores my observations and theories about why they are no longer participating, Monday’s blog explores where we might find them.

We are Smarter than You Think

In the old days, Catholics went to mass because they were told to and because they were told that if they did not attend mass, it was a mortal sin and they would go to hell if they died without receiving the sacrament of reconciliation.  So, they went because they were told and they went because they were scared.  Here’s the funny thing, this little moral teaching (not attending mass = a mortal sin and you will go to hell if you have mortal sin on your soul) is still on the books…..this is still the official teaching of the Catholic Church.  But guess what, most people are smart enough to believe in a loving God who will probably not condemn them to hell for missing mass.  So if the fear of eternal damnation is no longer hanging over our heads, what is the motivation for going to mass?

We Would Go if We enjoyed it

One of the things the Catholic Church figured out during the Vatican II Council was that vibrant worship, inspiring, relevant and nourishing preaching, meaningful rituals and with full participation of the laity (the people in the pew) would inspire people to attend.  Well……..as most Catholics know, the reforms of Vatican II have been a LONG time coming….and now seem to be going in reverse.  As such, the goals of vibrant worship, meaningful ritual, inspired preaching and full participation have only been marginally manifest.  Yes, some parishes are doing this REALLY well….especially if they have a pastor who is motivated by these goals and gifted in these areas, or who has recognized he’s not and hired support staff to accomplish these tasks.  For the most part, however, Catholics are NOT experiencing vibrant worship, etc. and are not feeling nourished by the mass……so they don’t attend, or they go somewhere else.

Catholic Moral Teaching vs. Primacy of Conscience

This sticky little area is perhaps the number one reason that Catholics don’t participate or choose to leave all together – they do not or cannot uphold some (if not many) of the Catholic moral teachings.  Even though there is a loophole in a little doctrine known as primacy of conscience, many churches teach a hard-line approach to morality and many are made to feel as if they are not welcome if they choose to step outside of the literal interpretation of the law.  So, if you believe that birth control is ok, that there is nothing wrong with living together before marriage or that homosexuality is something created by God and that a homosexual lifestyle is not something to condemn or if you suffered an abortion or know women who have and find that you cannot judge that as condemnable, you might not choose to play with a Church that tells you otherwise.

Abuse of Power

Everyone has read the headlines.  The institution of the Catholic Church is in deep doo doo.  Priests sexually abusing children, mostly young boys and their bishops either ignoring it or covering it up.  The Catholic Church is NOT ALONE in this kind of abuse of power, in fact, the statistics are the same across denominations.  But…..the Catholic Church is the biggest and easiest target and quite frankly, the most self-righteous.  Everyone wants to see the one on their moral high-horse brought down (especially one that seems to say “do as I say but not as I do”) – this is human nature!  Today, the Church would be in a better position if they would have handled this whole fiasco better – accepted responsibility, asked for forgiveness, made reparations to the victims and their families, then initiated effective reform to help prevent further incidences of abuse.  But…..the Church has not, in spite of what they say and seem to be doing.  Catholic are disgusted by this and many have left because of it.

The Disenfranchised, Rejected and Banished

This is the group of Catholics that have been told they are not welcome in the Catholic Church, or at the very least, made to feel they aren’t welcome:  Divorced, Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, Transgendered, women who have suffered abortion, those who choose to live together before marriage, those choosing artificial birth control as their method of family planning, those with AIDS, women called to the priesthood, married men called to the priesthood, those who question or challenge Catholic teaching, those who are open to exploring other forms of worship, prayer, communion with God, etc. etc. etc.  The list is endless.  If directly or indirectly, we are made to feel unwelcome, we leave.

The Bottom Line

I believe that the ultimate reason that Catholics leave or choose to no longer participate is even more deeply rooted than any of the above reasons.  Ultimately, we leave because our spiritual hungers are not being satisfied.  We are not being fed.  Now, that is a whole other topic and one I promise to explore, but I have learned that when people are being fed spiritually, they come back.  When people are honored and loved for who they are and invited to share who they are with the community, they stick around.  I have also found that when people are being fed spiritually, a whole bunch of “sins” by an institution can be forgiven and little mistakes overlooked.  Church is kind of like a marriage – if you treat me with love, honor and respect, I will do the same for you.  And when you make a mistake, say you are sorry and try to change, I can forgive you and I will stick around.  So if the Church wants to get back the 42.7 million who are no longer playing, maybe this would be the place to start.

If you are Catholic and no longer participating, what are your reasons for leaving?

What could the Church have done that would make you stay?

What do you look for in Church (if that is one of your ways of being with God)?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in Raised Catholic

Recovering Catholic? Catholic on the Fringe? Progressive Catholic? You are NOT alone!

  • You’re also not evil, going to hell and neither do you need to leave behind the things you have enjoyed about your Catholic faith.
  • You can be of rational mind and discerning spirit, you can question, challenge, confront, embrace the proposed reforms of Vatican II and cringe at the “reform of the reform.”
  • You can seek the God of your own understanding and find He, She, it, Them, in scripture, in the rituals of the Catholic tradition and anywhere else for that matter.
  • You can seek unity across religious traditions and embrace what is “of love”  in all faiths.
  • You can shake hands with the Dalai Lama, dance with the Sufis, sing halleluias with the Pentecostals, sit with the Zen Buddhists and practice asana with the Hindus and yogis……while still appreciating your tribal roots in Catholicism.
  • You can accept what speaks truth to you and set aside what does not.
  • You can embrace the law of God that resides in your heart and accept “Primacy of Conscience” as your guiding force.
  • You can grieve the actions of a religious institution that cause you sorrow, anger, frustration or pain and find new life on the other side.

Authentic Freedom Ministries speaks to people of all faiths (including those who call themselves athiest or agnostic), and is a unique voice to those who were raised Catholic, especially to those who find themselves searching, disenfranchised, disenchanted or frustrated.   Through our inspirational blog, Your Spiritual Truth, our classes, programs and services and through our subscription meditation newsletter, Agape’,  we speak to the heart of those who might say the following or desire to say the following about themselves:

I am a Contemplative, Progressive, Catholic Christian

  • Jesus is my teacher and guru and I can see the truth as revealed through other teachers and spiritual leaders.
  • Through contemplative prayer practices, I find wisdom, guidance and comfort beyond doctrine.
  • Through contemplative practices, I have found truth and wisdom in scripture – even in those that have been interpreted through the lens of fear.
  • I embrace ritual, mystery, mysticism, art, architecture, nature, music, commmunity and sacrament as vehicles of God’s grace.
  • I was raised Catholic and recognize this as my “tribe” while feeling free to embrace what speaks truth to me and setting aside what does not.
  • I am “catholic” in the sense of being universal – seeking to find the unity in the perceived separations between doctrine, beliefs and religious practice and honoring everything that leads us toward Love as grace-filled and sacred.
  • I embrace love as the truth Jesus came to reveal.
  • I believe in the truth of our Oneness with God in love and that this is the truth that sets us free.
  • I believe that all paths lead us to God – that which is our Source and Origin in love.
  • I honor all holy men and women, regardless of their chosen beliefs, who have followed the law of love.
  • I find more meaning in the search and in asking the questions than in the perceived certainties of doctrine or law.

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in About Lauri, Raised Catholic

Loving Being Catholic and What Went Wrong?

This is a continuation in the series on my discussion about being Catholic and a response to accusations that I have “left the church to start my own religion.”

The Question of What Went Wrong

So, if I loved being Catholic so much, and there are so many things about being Catholic that I still love and if Catholicism is in my blood and part of my bones, then why am I currently choosing to fast from the Eucharist and live as a “Catholic in Exile?”  What went wrong?  Contrary to what some might think, prior to the “what went wrong,” my eyes were open to the realities of the Institution of the Catholic Church.  I knew of the abuses against children (and women!), I knew of the corruption of the Institution, I knew of the power and control.  Prior to the “what went wrong,” I was able to stand as observer and for the most part, hold the Institution in compassion, recognizing that it is a human institution complete with human frailties and imperfections.  Of course my inner reformer would have to do her justice dance from time to time, but for the most part, I was able to stand in a place of trusting that the Holy Spirit was at work and that all that needed to be healed in the Institution would be healed in its own time.  I do have to admit, however, that my inner reformer saw herself as part of the healing.  I was determined to be a source of healing, transformation and support for the church (for the sake of the people of the church) that I loved.  For a long time, I found support for this call through my Pastor (Jeff VandenHeuvel), my Spiritual Director (Judy Miller) and both the Newman Center and St. Mary’s communities.  Then it all changed and it became personal.

Reiki

In the late 1980’s, I heard the call to pursue Reiki as a model of energy healing.  It was not until years later that I found my Reiki teachers, but I did find them and in all places….IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH!!!!!   After years of searching for a Reiki teacher, I found two Catholic nuns who taught and practiced Reiki and for me, this was absolutely perfect.  I have always seen Reiki as a vehicle through which we are able to continue Jesus’ healing ministry in the world, and these teachers echoed my sentiments.  Eventually, I heard the call to include Reiki as part of my existing ministry in the Catholic Church and our new pastor supported me in this call.  Unfortunately, the fearful minority DID NOT!   Now, I’m going to own something RIGHT NOW!  I absolutely know that what I will now share with you is part of my pain story.  As my teacher, Julie Tallard Johnson, would remind me, all of what follows is a direct reflection of my pain story, “I am rejected.”

The Inquisition

So, in a nutshell…the fearful minority did not like the fact that I was doing Reiki.  In their words, “Reiki is not the truth, because it is only the truth if it is explicitly handed down by the magesterium.”  Ok, historically, this is not even an accurate statement (practice always precedes legislation), but it was what they believed.  Long story short, in their minds, I was “doing the work of the devil” and practicing “witchcraft and sorcery” and thanks to their efforts (and the efforts of others of the same mindset), the local bishop issued a prohibition statement against Reiki which basically echoed these very words.  Not only was I a target for the local self-appointed inquisition, now they had the papers to back them up.  But it wasn’t just Reiki that made them nervous, it was also the fact that I practiced and taught contemplative prayer.  “Isn’t Centering Prayer (the Catholic form of mindful meditation), dangerous?” one of these folks asked me in a class I was facilitating on Christian Prayer.  SIGH!  I thought long and hard about this question and realized the truth is YES – Centering prayer (and any contemplative practice for that matter) is dangerous BUT ONLY if you are afraid of discovering the truth – specifically the truth of your most authentic self and the truth of God’s unending and unconditional love.

Owning my Stuff

So, how did I respond to the local self-appointed inquisition?  I felt rejected.  My inner victim wailed, “How can they say these things about me?  Don’t they know I’m a good person?  God called me to these tools and I have found healing through them and have helped others also find healing?  If God called me to this, how can it be bad?”  In the end, I allowed these circumstances to break my heart.  When the new pastor challenged me for the very same reasons the local inquisition challenged me, I just couldn’t take anymore (nor did I need to).  So I quit.  I quit my ministry in the Catholic Church (for the second time) and I quit going to church.  In my mind, I could not attend mass presided over by a priest I knew did not support me and I could not share mass with those who I knew had led the local inquisition.  Was I being a baby in making that decision?  HHHHHHMMMMMM  I’m still processing that one.  What I do know, is that since leaving work in the institution, I have experienced expansion and growth around my ministry. My own inner creativity has exploded.  People in need of spiritual healing and comfort (especially “recovering Catholics) have found me and have found enormous healing, peace, comfort and affirmation of their own inner truths.  I have received, created and facilitate a formal process of spiritual formation for adults that is rooted in Jesus’ teachings, and speaks to people of all beliefs, faiths, etc.  Oh yea….and I’ve written three books (one coming out in April, the others are still looking for a publishing home) And, except for this one wound that still remains unhealed, I feel a deep and profound inner peace and contentment in where I am spiritually and professionally.  So, the invitation for me now is to transform this part of my pain story and ask myself how I can now see it through my current intention:  I receive everything as love. And…..the answer to that will have to wait for Monday’s blog!

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com