I joined the Church for many reasons. One, I was drawn to Christianity in general (my family being a mix of mostly Catholics and Protestants, with some Jews and Mormons). It was familiar to me, the teachings of Jesus resonated with me, and I knew I could never be anything else. Catholicism became clear to me as the oldest Christian church, one that has held faithful through generations and preserved something timeless. In addition, I also was educated in a Catholic environment and elements of Catholic doctrine and practice (Eucharistic adoration, Mass, the Sacraments, the prayers, role of Mary and the saints) appealed to me in ways elements of Protestant practice could not. Cultural elements existed for me, as I have always sought identity with my Italian roots. Finally, Catholic social teaching: consistent life ethics, poverty eradication, and life's dignity echoed back what I had believed about the Gospel.
After seven years, I can find no separation possible. Missing Mass, whether intentionally or not, leaves me missing something. Praying the Rosary fills me with peace and clarity. I find service mandatory and am committed to making my world a better place and myself a better person. One of the first things people learn about me is about my faith. This is before my education, job, age, family or even my love of food.
At the same time, I have my issues with the institutional Church. I believe in leadership, I do not believe the Bible alone suffices in deriving God's will and authority. However, I find myself questioning why God would enlighten someone more, simply because they were chosen by an established hierarchy. If God is above gender and made man and woman in His image, why is it so heretical to also refer to God as Her? Or for a woman to consecrate the Blessed Sacrament? While Jesus was fully human, why would a physical sex determine the worthiness for generations of women?
If sin is between man and God and a priest is bound by the seal of Confession to never tell, why does the Church derive power to excommunicate someone? If we can condemn sin without condemning the person, what use is this power to us? Further, if God is all powerful, why would we impose something only man could lift?
These are only a few of the many questions I have. Yes, I have prayed, yes, I've read the Catechism, Theology of the Body and a variety of texts. I have no easy answers. As much as I believe God resides with all who seek them, seeking another faith is difficult when your identity rests in one.
Trying to figure this out............