What Lent means to an "ex-Catholic" Christian
I've pondered this in my mind for a week now, and there isn't really a clear choice whether to celebrate Lent as an "Ex-Catholic" if that is in fact, what I am.
I take you back to my home town, where probably 90% are Catholic and follow traditions. It's just what your parents did, and it's what you do too. No one really questions any of the practices. And not saying there is anything wrong with following Catholicism, but for me, it wasn't really answering any of the questions I had.
You may have read my story on my Endometriosis Battle, and that explains why I had a real struggle with my faith, and let's be honest, my struggle with God. I had all of the why me, God? Moments, I had the He must not love me moments, I had all sorts of moments because there wasn't any good reason why this was happening to me. And at that time, going to mass and doing things "the Catholic way" wasn't answering any questions or comforting me. So when a friend invited me to her non-denominational church, I went. I did not want to give up on my relationship with God, if anything, I desperately needed him more than ever.
Getting inside the church was the hard part. I just knew my parents would not like it, and I could be judged by childhood friends who still practice Catholicism, but I had to see what it was about. This friend was so upbeat, always talking about her church and the activities they did together, but it was more than that. She could quote scripture like no other. And even better, she could actually sit and explain it to you. It was all due to her bible study groups, she said. I wanted that something fierce.
Inside the church, everyone chatted with everyone else. Then the music starts. If you've never been in a non-denominational church, let me explain, it's pretty much like a concert! They have a live band and normally a group of about 5 or so singers. Everyone in the audience stands and sings, some will clap, some will dance a little, and some will even raise their hands up to the heavens as if they wanted to grab God's hand. This shocked me as in mass, you are not to make a peep. It was definitely different, and as with any live music, it makes you feel good!
Then it was to the service part. Just a preacher up there, talking to you like a friend. No choreographed paragraphs being recited, no automated responses being said back, just the preachers own words explaining whatever scripture he was on, to make you understand it. I'd never experienced this before. It was like a big bible study and I was in love.
I left with a clear understanding of the scripture that I had never experienced before. Like the bible wasn't some big scary thing that was sacred and untouchable. I felt a renewed love of the stories and scripture I'd heard all my life, but felt like it was more on my level, like I could actually study it personally and I didn't have to go through all of the pomp and circumstance to just pick it up and study it. My connection and path to God was clear. He was calling me to Him and this was the way to do it. Now, does this mean that I'm an ex-Catholic? To some. I still have my rosary and pray it, I still believe in most things the Catholic religion does. Do I go to a Catholic church now? No, I do not. Will I in the future? Who knows. All I know is that what makes me feel closer to God is my church, which is a Christian, non-denominational church.
So for me, celebrating Lent will be a mixture of my two worlds. Yes, I will participate in Lent, I will focus on what Jesus did for us. I will not "give up" anything and let that serve as my only sacrifice. I will dive into a deeper study of the bible. I will strive for a closer connection to God. I will not fast, nor will I go get ashes. It's a fine line, but for me, this is how I feel close to God. And isn't that the purpose of everything? Your true and faithful relationship to God?
I would never stray from Christianity.Honestly, does it matter what church you go to, or how you practice your faith?