Abandoning the Faith – A Step by Step Guide to Apostasy
“Keep the Faith” was a saying that drove me absolutely nuts as a teenager. I can recall how my faithless or borderline faithless classmates used to mockingly say that to me if I was doing something to defend the faith. “Alright there buddy, keep the faith”. I don’t know if the saying had been popularized by a movie of the similar title, which came out during that time, the Bon Jovi album (for our more mature viewer), or if it was just something they had picked up. Although I absolutely despised those words as a disgruntled loner catholic teen, they were three of the most important words I have ever heard.
As a 13 year old, I experienced my reversion to the Catholic Church and began to thirst for the Truth. As I began to dive deeper into what it really meant to be Catholic, I watched as my fellow ‘Catholic’ schoolmates stopped attending Mass and got into all sorts of darkness. Since then, I have also watched as parents, teachers, youth leaders, and even priests abandoned the Christian life and the Church. In my teens, I found myself feeling very alone at times saying, “Where the heck did that Catholic go?” I recall hearing very early on in my teens a song by a Christian band, which gave a strong warning to Christians. They warned that those who are serious about the faith will watch many ‘believers’ fall away from the faith. The bottom line was to be prepared for it. I remember as a teen thinking, “how can someone just pick up and leave the faith?”. I was very naive. Yet, as the years went on, my naivete disappeared. My high school classmates have all but left the Faith. Out of my youth group, only a handful of people remain actually Catholic, and most of those members are in Team Orthodoxy. Even some people who were on NET (National Evangelization Teams of Canada) with me, who had given a year of their lives (if not two), to serve Christ and evangelize, have abandoned the Catholic faith. Why?
As I look back over my 15 years of serious faith, I have noted trends, both in other people, but also in myself. I have seen the ebbs and flows in my life of faith, but also in others, and have seen where certain decisions can lead. This is not a holier than thou kind of thing. I have seen myself almost fall away from the Faith. Therefore, I have created a list, a step by step guide to apostasy (abandonment of the Faith), to help you see the warning signs. Not everyone falls into all of these categories but, you may see trends. The journey to heaven or hell is not a simple journey, but a journey of steps and choices. I will here provide my satirical list of some general warning signs with some brief commentary, and then share how to change it around.
Here is a step by step guide to abandoning the faith:
1. Making excuses for sins.
You’ve made the first step of abandoning the Faith. You sinned. You did what you said you wouldn’t do, and you’re okay with it. You neglect to repent immediately and do not resolve to go to confession. It’s only a little sin, right? God won’t mind. You might say, “Well, we all do it sometimes” or “I’m not perfect, so why pretend?” You go girl.
2. Placing your faith in Christians instead of Christ.
This is sort of a step outside of the steps, because it is pretty much a one stop shop. You’ve pretty much made your choice. “How could I ever be a Catholic when some priests have done _____?” God forbid it be someone you know. “What a bunch of hypocrites! I would never want to be associated with them!” Another version of this is, “The former priest spoke well and relevantly, but the new guy is old and boring. I’m not going back to that church.” You haven’t been back to Mass since the new guy showed up. He just bothers you. You piggyback your faith off of the trendiest priest around. You’re all about the “cool” factor. Welp, see ya.
3. Lack of a personal, mental prayer life.
Mass is your only prayer time. You’re too busy doing things. You’ve got commitments, man. School or work, kids and chores. God also wouldn’t dare interfere with your 8-10 hour of sleep per night. You are the Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse when you don’t get your sleep and morning coffee, and that is more important than wasting time praying.
4. Failure to study the Faith.
You do not have time to pray and you certainly don’t have time to read. You have to catch up on your emails and Facebook. Don’t neglect to send those important texts and don’t forget to take a selfie. You already know the faith inside and out, I mean, you did go to Catholic school, right?
5. Weakened devotion to the Blessed Mother.
Of course you love Mary. Her rosary is dangling from your rearview mirror as we speak, so that all the people in the Wal-Mart parking lot can see it. That’s really enough for you. You opt for quicker devotions and ejaculatory prayers like “Oh my God – I’m late for work” and “Hail Mary! That’ll be the pass that wins the game!”
6. Catholic friendships do not take a pre-eminent place in your life.
You have some catholic friends from school that you meet up with at the bar on Friday night. That’s about it, really. They’re really nice though.
7. Romantic involvements become the focus of your hopes.
You have learned to pray with great earnestness the prayer passed down to us from the loneliest of the early Church fathers, “St. Ann, St. Ann – Send me a Man, Send Me a Man as Fast As You Can”. It’s not easy being alone and the biological clock sure is ticking loudly. It is actually ticking so loud that everyone hears it, or at least about it. El Catholica Desperada. Why else do you go to the bar on Friday night? You’re looking for a really good Catholic Gino, I mean man.
8. Theology becomes something to be manipulated instead of something that inspires and motivates.
“I have a degree in theology”, “I went to Catholic School”, “I work for the Diocese”. You have the books and the time to work God into your own image. Jesus, so meek and mild goes and sits in a corner for you and waits until you need something. No condemnation of your bad works would ever flow from His lips, granted, they are covered in your theological duct tape and you’re too busy justifying your actions to allow Him a moment to speak anyway.
9. Stop going to Confession.
Why go to Confession if you have convinced yourself that God doesn’t care and will forgive you anyway? Sin? What’s that? You have convinced yourself that sin is relative, and that even if there were something as bad as mortal sin, it would be truly impossible to fully fulfil the criteria. Plus, look at all the good works you do, and your diet is absolutely outstanding. Wouldn’t want to harm that perfect body with some foreign chemicals, now.
10. Start making excuses to miss Mass.
Now that you no longer believe in sin, you now can make excuses to skirt around your “Sunday obligation”. You begin to treat it like it is no big deal. You can even go to a protestant church if you want on Sunday. Who cares? Nobody misses you there anyways. Plus the communion hosts aren’t all organic and gluten free. You can just eat some Ezekiel 4:9 bread and have a glass of “Girls Night Out” at home, and think some happy thoughts while listening to Casting Crowns or Matt Maher. Joel Olsteen might even have something on the old tellie. You were born to live your best life today, err, maybe tomorrow.
11. Instead of giving assent to the Teaching of Christ and the Church, you begin to publicly support worldly points of view instead.
Living the Catholic life no longer matters to you. You are finally free. All that matters is that you are respected and able to do what you want to do without anyone telling you otherwise. You now begin to attack the Church’s teachings because you wish to support the lifestyle you have created for yourself and the Church now stands in opposition of the things which you have chosen to love. Yet you still call yourself a “Catholic” because you’ve got roots. We got it. Welcome to the land of heresy. You have officially changed your Facebook religious status from “Catholic” to “Catholic But…”. You will find many so-called ‘Catholics’ hanging out in this mental toilet bowl. Many people choose to live out their days, here, floating on the logs of the culture of death until it comes time for the ultimate flush. Some however, choose to flush themselves. Weeeeee (no pun intended)?
12. You repeat the prior eleven steps ad nauseum, in no particular order, until you completely and formally abandon the Catholic Faith.
Well, you’ve flushed yourself. You have finally realized that you are no longer Catholic and renounce the Faith completely. Remove that Facebook status. Hide your Jesus junk. Make sure there is no sign of your former catholicity. Remove that feeling inside every time you see a crucifix. Call it “Catholic Guilt” and throw it away. To thine own self be true, and you friend are a go-getter without some misogynistic, antiquated moralism to hold you back. God? That guy you left in the corner? Yeah, He’s still around somewhere but He’s kind of like the downstairs neighbour that you see in passing but don’t really pay attention to.
1. Pray, examine your conscience daily, and go to confession often to keep yourself in spiritual check. Each time we fall into sin, we move further away from God and His Church. St. Alphonsus Liguori states:
The Devil does not bring sinners to Hell with their eyes open; he first blinds them with the malice of their own sins. “For their own malice blinded them” – Wisdom 2:21. He thus leads them to eternal perdition. Before we fall into sin, the enemy labors to blind us, that we may not see the evil we do, and the ruin we bring upon ourselves by offending God. After we commit sin, he seeks to make us dumb, that through shame, we may conceal our guilt in confession. Thus he leads us to Hell by a double chain, inducing us, after our transgression, to consent-to a still greater sin – the sin of sacrilege.
2. Many people fall away from the Faith simply because they place their faith in Christians, whether it be laity, priests, bishops, popes, etc. How do you stop this? Put your faith in Christ and the Blessed Mother. Neither of them will ever fail. Besides these two people, no one is impeccable, and all are sinners. Stay united to Christ through prayer, and if you get the urge to condemn another Christian’s failure, make sure you are pounding your chest 100 times harder for all of your sins.
3. Vital Lehodey, in his book, “The Ways of Mental Prayer” says that mental prayer is the “grave of concupiscence.” It is there that vice goes to die. There is no saint who did not practice mental prayer, and it is precisely mental prayer and its fruits which make saints. In order for the world, the flesh, and the devil to speak the loudest, the intellect must be removed from the silence of prayer. If you want to see your faith take a downward spiral, stop praying. If you want it to be reinvigorated, begin the practice of daily mental prayer.
4. Once the intellect gives up on prayer, it will no longer be motivated to study the Truths of the Catholic Faith. Once you give up the study of the faith, you begin to study the world. A mind that is not bridled by faith and reason can be led into all sorts of darkness. You can fix this by simply studying the faith, perhaps just read a little bit each day. Listen to a talk on Youtube or EWTN. Just take some time to raise your mind to things of eternity. It is important to learn not simply what the Church teaches, but to find out why she does.
5. If Jesus chooses to need Mary, so do you. A lack of Marian devotion is a sign of spiritual paralysis. Make sure that daily Marian devotion is part of your routine. Marian devotion also helps to keep you in check, because it recognizes that we need a mediatrix with the mediator. We recognize, through authentic Marian devotion, that we cannot control Jesus. It acknowledges that we are not even worthy to be before Him and that Mary is the only one who can purify our prayers and present them perfectly to the Lord.
6. Bad company produces bad morals. If you surround yourself only with people who do not believe in Christ and His Church, you’re going to end up like them. The analogy of the coals comes to mind. A hot coal placed among hot coals remains warm. A coal placed among cold stones may warm the stones for a short while, but will soon become as cold as they are.
7. Loneliness can be very subtle but can overtake a person very easily. The passions are a tough thing to master. All of us are wired for relationship, however, I have seen how some people put their faith in God, in hopes that He’ll bring prince or princess charming to them on a white horse and in their own time. When their longed-for spouse doesn’t show up, the person loses faith in God, and most especially in His personal love for them. God is not a matchmaker or a vending machine. It is of vital importance that especially if you are dealing with loneliness and seeking a partner, that God remains the number one focus, and that you pray to be in union with God’s will, not the other way around.
8. Spiritual pride=spiritual death. Friend, it matters not what you think you know or what the paper on the wall says. If you are not faithful to Christ and His Church, and working earnestly to grow in virtue, you got nothin’, capish? Once we presume we have God wrapped around our little finger, we fall into the sin of presumption. I have quoted Peter Kreeft in the past before regarding this, however, it is just too good not to mention again. Kreeft states that, “you can’t repent if you don’t believe in sin to repent of, and you can’t believe in sin if you don’t believe in a real moral law, because sin means disobeying that. Moral relativism eliminates that law, thus sin, thus repentance, thus salvation.”
9. Never stop going to confession. We need the graces given to us through the Sacraments to fully live the Christian Life. The Pope recently went to confession publicly and he goes every two weeks. You should totally go and be set free by the Lord. I promise you, it is worth it.
10. The Catechism of the Catholic Church echoes the Second Vatican Council when it declares that, “the Eucharist is the Source and Summit of the Christian Life”. If you cut yourself off from Mass, you cut yourself off from the source of the Christian Life, and it’s apex, which is true union with God. Mass is Heaven on Earth. How can you expect to go to Heaven when you die if you ignore the heavenly banquet on earth?
The bottom line of changing your whole spiritual outlook is to be faithful to Christ by being faithful to His Church. The Holy Spirit has prevented the Church’s teaching from falling into error for almost 2,000 years and will never stop protecting the Spouse of Christ. It may be harder for some to give assent to this, however, to the level that we pray, enter into the Sacramental Life of the Church, study the Church’s Teaching, seek to grow in virtue, and seek out Catholic Community, the more graces we will receive and the more truly joyful we will be.
One scene that we meditate on during Lent is the abandonment of Christ during His Sacred Passion. From the Garden of Gethsemane, the Apostles dispersed, yet only one disciple remained faithful during the whole entirety of the Passion, St. John. Why did Jesus deign to grant St. John custody of His own Mother from the Cross? It was because St. John remained faithful, even during the toughest moments. St. John was committed to Christ and to His Mother. Some think that while the rest of the Apostles ran away from the Garden, John went to get the Blessed Mother. St. John, less than 24 hours before the crucifixion of the Lord was found in the upper room, at the Last Supper, reclining against Jesus’ chest. St. John remained close to the Sacred Heart, to Christ’s Mother, and he remained faithful to Peter (the First Pope), and gave assent to him, even at the tomb of the Lord on Easter Morning. He was also the only Apostle who received a martyr’s crown without dying, and was given great revelations through prayer, which are now in every single Bible across the world. Jesus gave huge graces to St. John the Apostle. What the Lord desired to give to St. John, He desires to give to us who remain faithful to the end. This does not mean we won’t fall, but, we get up and keep running the race. The question for us is will we choose to be faithful like St. John or are we choosing to settle for less?
Posted on March 31, 2014, in Catholic, Christian, Christian Life, Church Corruption and Renewal, Communion, Confession, eucharist, Eucharistic Spirituality, Protestantism, scandal and tagged Apostasy, Falling Away from the Catholic Church, Holiness, Leaving the Catholic Church, Lent, Prayer, Sin of Presumption, St. John the Apostle. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.