My Major Struggle With Staying Catholic

I’m 37 and have been in the Catholic faith since I was 23 years old. In that length of time, I think I’ve developed a reasonably good understanding of how the Church works from top to bottom. I’m able to look over the sins of the clergy and laypeople and I don’t use them as a reason to leave. Lots of people do use this reason but it isn’t me because I acknowledge that institutions the world over are populated with sex abusers and that their behaviour does not shake the core message of that institution and the saintly people who adhere to it.

My struggle has always been the extreme fundamentalists (right-wing) and progressive liberals (left-wing). These two camps are quite literally sucking the life out of the Church for Catholics who follow the Church and adopt neither of these extremes. Sadly, the right-wing group is more of a problem because they’re more interested in their faith. This means Catholic retreats, places of pilgrimage, pro-life, Catholic YouTube and media groups are heavily populated by them.

The only person worth watching on YouTube is Bishop Barron. I know of no other Catholic media outlet that has a more balanced view of the faith. This leaves me, my wife and kids, unable to mingle with any Catholic group. I spent lots of money on Theological programs but had to leave because it was full of liberals. A Latin priest wanted my boys to be altar boys so I spent money getting them new costumes that actually fitted but in the end we left because the congregation was so fundamentalist and aggressive in their theology.

I mostly went to the Latin masses to appease my wife who enjoyed them or was looking for more piety. I did forwarn her that most people attracted to these things are extreme in their conservative theology and very right-wing and it’s not an answer to the problems prevalent in our local churches. I warned her that this is going to fail and something will happen where we will end up leaving. That’s exactly what took place. I took my Dad one week and he said, “Son, this place is populated by the spiritually deluded who are obsessed with the Irish past”. He wasn’t wrong.

Then we go back to our local Church where the Liturgy is like watching paint dry. I’m sitting there listening to this lovely Nigerian priest whose homily I’m sure was lovely on paper but boy I couldn’t understand him. I used to just nod my head towards the floor and go into dreamland about being at an Orthodox liturgy.

shortly afterwards I’m asked to be a Deacon, go through the motions and it turns out they’re spying on my Facebook page and reporting all back to the Bishop about my anti-vaccine mandate post the Church developed to be a deacon.

After having my application denied as a result of that and subsequent to a conversation with the local Bishop, I ended up in the Greek Orthodox Church that Sunday and really enjoyed myself for many Sundays there afterwards. I really liked it because I got the benefit of a very high liturgy but minus the spiritually deluded crackpots in the pews (not that theres any pews in the Greek Orthodox Church).

Look, I’ve had my issues with liberals as well. I spent hundreds of Euros on them only to be told by the president of education for the diocese of Armagh that women could be priests. He told me that using the Vatican II documents he could show me that women could be priests. I thought to myself even then, “I’m having a hard time accepting my conversion and the reason the Lord brought me here and the means by which he did.” I had to question the supposedly miraculous reason I ended up here as being from God my desire for Orthodox liturgy being one of them and my sins another.

It’s gotten to the point now where my mental stability is seriously deteriorating. Right now, I’m back in the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Dublin where my boys were baptized. It’s an hour away, yes you read me correctly one hour away. My plan, for now, is to simply keep my head down, sing the hymns and avoid any more Catholic community that I’m already getting. I like the Ukrainians and Russians because, unlike Irish Catholics, they’re seemingly unaffected by these extremist groups and lack the administration spirit most Bishops and priests have in Ireland.

I’ve no idea what the next chapter in my life is going to bring. All I know is that the older I get I’m progressively getting fed up, not with Catholicism, but the actual populace of the Church itself. I’m tired of the liberals, the fundamentalists and the overall for-profit Catholic media companies and theologians who make money from the Church using Pauls words (meant only for ministers) to justify their weight in gold. I had to remove myself from it and return to the 23-year-old who went to Mass once a week and did not interact much if at all with any of these people. It sounds crazy doesn’t it, that the only way you can stay Catholic is not to interact with Catholics? How sad.

I literally cannot get along with any of them. What do you do when there’s no community and there’s a circle with all the liberals and fundamentalists on the inside while you’re observing it all from a lonely island on the outside and none of them like you? There is a quote from Archbishop Fulton Sheen that brings me some comfort. He says, “The Church will always be more modern than the modernist, more fundamental than the fundamentalist”. It’s a soothing quote but is it enough to keep me in the Church? Can I traverse the Church using Protestant theology of having a personal relationship with Jesus having no community for my kids who are already homeschooled and get no interaction and let that be it? I can’t answer that. Right now, I’ve turned my attention to making amateur short documentaries of local sites considered Sacred to Catholics and my application for studies in General mental health nursing (oh the irony).

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