I’ve been struggling between two religious worlds of late. As you all know, I go to both the Catholic and the Baptist Churches in the town where I live. I was driving home from work in silence today because since our vacation, I’ve grown accustomed to to the quiet. While in Maine we did not listen to radio or watch TV news. I caught a snippet of Dancing With the Stars on Tuesday night, but other than that, we had Mother Nature and good company to occupy us. Anyway, driving home in the silence I was pondering why I could not give up the Baptist Church to be Catholic or why I could not give up the Catholic Church and be totally Baptist. There are several reasons why I go to the Baptist Church. 1) I love to sing in the choir and Catholics, to be honest, don’t sing the same music or in quite the same way as Baptists do, at least not in our church they don’t. Choir practice on Wednesday night is usually a lot of fun and you get to sing Gospel music. 2) I love to read and study the Bible because it feeds my curiosity and academic “bent.” I can sit and “do” bible study for a couple of hours in the morning. 3) The people at the Baptist church are like my extended family. We have fun most of the time, even though there can be fights.
I go to the Catholic Church because 1) The mystery of the Eucharist draws me. 2) I prefer confession here. I feel wiped clean in Catholic confession whereas in the Baptist church, you don’t dare tell anyone else what you’ve done. You’ll never live it down (see post #2 on this blog). 3) I love the silence and the ritualistic liturgy of offering corporate worship to God. In the Baptist church I don’t get the impression that what we do is worship. I sense God in the Catholic church.
So, I pondered these things and wondered, could it be that God wanted me to give up those things I so dearly love as a Baptist to show me that I need to rely more on Him alone and not Bible Study, singing, fellowship, etc.? I’ve been reading some of the lives of the saints and they all say that God strips you of all things you are most devoted to in order to fill you more with His presence. Is that true? Will God withdraw the consolation I receive from these things in order to draw me to Himself?
It’s true that I get so caught up in Bible-ology that I forget God all together. It’s possible to put the Bible before God as some fundamentalists are known to do. You get swept up in translation controversies and find yourselves fighting over which one is TRUE when only one person was TRUTH: Jesus. It’s also true that I enjoy choir more than a lot of things and cannot see myself giving it up. But let’s suppose God wants me to give up all these things to know Him better or to have a deeper Christian life. Would I? Can I live without Bible Study or teaching Sunday school, since none of these things is offered in the Catholic Church. Can I give up choir in the Gospel tradition?
I’m not sure, but how can I know God is asking me to? I suppose it’s going to take a lot more silent drives home from work to figure it out.