Escaping Catholicism

**This is MY story. I’m not here to insult anyone’s faith. I’m not here to be negative. I’m here to share my story because this is a HUGE part of where I come from and how God is teaching me.**

My parents are great, there’s no scandal there. My mom was Baptist, my dad Catholic. The area I was raised is majority Catholic. I mean, the town I grew up in had a 2010 census population of 525. And when I say town, I mean location, because it’s technically not even a town. Point is that I come from a small area where the majority are Catholic and my parents decided that infant baptism would be wise for my future.

I went to a Catholic school for K-8. I’m sure my parents were happy I learned some religion but they were sending me there for safety and education reasons mostly.

Escaping Catholicism // One woman's story of leaving legalism behind and dancing in the glory of God.

While attending public high school, I made the decision to continue CCD (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine) classes so that I could make my confirmation. At this point, I was totally aware of the fact that I was a “bad” Catholic and just checking the right boxes in case I needed to get married in the church.

My parents’ forethought and my box checking worked out. We got married in my hometown church. The same church that I was baptized in, made my confirmation in, and attended plenty of times.

That church is a major part of my life but that church community is mostly just the community that I grew up with. I didn’t have to be a member of that church to be a member of the community. No one there was loving me because we went to church together. We love each other because we were doing life together and cared for each other.

College

There were a few times that I attend the Catholic church while at college. Mostly when friends would invite me. But it was always out of obligation. I was just going through the motions. Stand, kneel, sit. Stand, kneel, sit.

My college friends were great. Variety of beliefs, no one really pressured or talked about it, but we all loved each other through the junk. Without legalistic religion.

Post-college

Working in the veterinary field, I encountered people of all beliefs. We call my shift-working days “angry Lacey time” because I was angry, frustrated, and nowhere near spending quality time with the Lord.

After changing jobs and getting a better schedule, I was introduced to some new friends who attended the church we now call home. I remember the first time I attended, I was alone. But the sweetest woman came and sat next to me. After the service, I sat in my car crying and called my mom to tell her I had found a church. (At this point, J wasn’t totally sold and I was firm in not being a pushy wife…about this topic).

I began attending a young ladies’ bible study and fell in love with studying. I remember the first time it was my turn to pray aloud, I busted into tears feeling overwhelmed. Those girls never laughed, never mocked me, they just walked with me as I processed and learned. Now I’ll gladly pray and my words might stumble, but there’s zero shame in praying.

Motherhood

By the time we had our first son, we’d been regular attendees of our church for a couple of years. But the issue of attending a non-denominational church didn’t sit well with everyone. Especially when it came time to dedicate our son.

Then I kind of became bitter about things and starting to dig in and research the who/what/why/when/how so that I could defend our choices for a church. I know that no one should have to defend their choice, but I love research and learning and I’m stubborn, so this is how I process.

The following is the ongoing questions and research portion of what I call “escaping Catholicism”. Escape is defined as to break free from confinement or control. And this truly means that I’m breaking free from just going through the motions and doing things because that’s the way I did them in school or whatever. Jesus Christ died on a cross for my freedom and I want to fully live in that freedom.
  • Mary
    • Perpetual virginity
      • “When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.” Matthew 1:24-25
      • So they had sex, but not while she was pregnant
      • Mark 6:3 states that Jesus is there with his mothers, brothers, and sisters
    • Assumption
      • In 1950 a pope said this. No scriptural proof.
  • Purgatory
    • The belief that we need to go there to be purified before entering heaven. Are we saying that Jesus’ death and resurrection aren’t enough to save us?
  • Saints
    • Scripture speaks to saints as believers
  • Rosary
    • Matthew 6:7 tells us not to pray empty phrases of repetition. Checking out different translations of this verse is really convicting.
  • Transubstantiation
    • HUH?!? Just how and why. Yes, communion is a great practice to remember Jesus, but let’s be honest about what it is.
  • Confession/Penance
    • James 5:15, 1 John 1:9, Proverbs 28:13
    • Nowhere do we find a scripture about going into a closet, confessing our sins to a priest, and he gets to say how many prayers to recite so we can be forgiven.
    • The work of penance says that we don’t believe in grace being enough.
  • Life of Celibacy
    • If someone wants to be celibate for God and the mission that He’s called them to, then great. But it shouldn’t be a requirement for serving the Lord.
  • Pope
    • This would probably be a full blow story and list that I could write.
    • Yes, there are instructions for leaders of churches.
    • I know that Jesus said Peter was the rock on which the church would be built. But I’m not necessarily sure he was saying to build a building on his grave.
    • Peter denied Christ. THREE TIMES. He wasn’t infallible.
  • Sacraments
    • Check boxes for salvation???
  • Works for Salvation
    • I once had a nun tell me to picture getting to heaven like a stairway. Good things equaled steps up, bad things equaled steps down.
    • Ephesians 2:8-9 plainly says how we get to heaven
  • Bible
    • There are a lot of opinions about translations and versions of the bible but it is my belief that the additional books of the Catholic bible are historical books and not scriptural text.
  • Reading of Scripture
    • In 9 years of Catholic school, the only time I read scripture was to read a passage during mass. And I’m pretty sure they rotated through a few pieces of the Gospels and some Psalms.
    • Other than that, I’m super thankful that my parents read the Bible at home. Because a church is extra, teaching starts with us at home!
  • Obligations
    • Holy Days of Obligation are the days on which the faithful are obligated to attend mass
    • An obligation is defined as a commitment that you’re legally or dutifully bound to
  • Mortal/Venial Sins
    • Sins are saddening to God. No matter if it’s murder or lying. They are all not pleasing. But sins can all also be forgiven because we serve a GREAT GOD who decided to make the ultimate sacrifice for us.
  • State of Grace
    • This thought seems to give way to the teaching that God would give grace and then take it away. Unless you’ve gone to confession and done your penance, you can’t go to communion?!?

Personally, I’ve gone back and forth about sharing my story, what I’ve learned, and my questions. I’ve been told on both sides of this that I was going to hell. For being Catholic and for not being Catholic. Which is ridiculous because we’re not the gatekeepers.

I’m not here to ridicule anyone or their faith. Don’t grab a pitchfork and come for me. If you want to have a conversation, I’m all for that. Email me!

Please remember that this is MY journey and I’m nowhere near understanding the full meaning of scripture. But I’m studying and I’m trying to learn more and more about the goodness and love of God.

A wise pastor once used this simple equation…
Grace + Faith = Salvation + Works (the works are the fruit of our salvation)
This was the easiest concept I’ve ever seen and I love this analogy.

If Jesus’ death and resurrection defeat sin and death to save us from hell, then why must we ever do anything “extra” to earn our salvation, other than believing in Jesus himself?

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  • I enjoyed this so much. I feel like you wrote this for me. Raised catholic my entire life. Went through all the motions. Then realized as a mother I was following man made rules and not the Lord. Now we attend a nondenominational church that was built on our farm property. We have found a forever home there.

  • Thank you for sharing your story. I have famiky members who are still in the Catholic religion and pray they choose to go to a different religion. My neice loves the Baptist and but don’t want to disappoint her grandmother on her father’s side, whom is very Catholic. You’re story is inspiring. I’m not sure we’re meant to have all the answers. We all learn everyday. And when it comes to learning about God, it’s a good thing we keep on learning. For he is the light, the alpha and the omega. NO ONE is to be put before him. God bless you.

  • I love your story and it’s inspiring as I know the same feelings. I hope you continue learning and embracing your journey!

  • Great job Lacey! I’ve walked in those shoes too. Received Christ as my Lord and Saviour in 1985 and he has been faithful. His Word is what we need, not religion. He sent the Holy Spirit for each of us, we simply have to receive. Thank you for sharing your journey. May God bless you for sharing his love.