This is something I wrote quite some time ago when I was indeed going about and finding God outside of the four walls. This was what I refer to as my ChristoPagan time, long before my rebirth into the current ‘nothingness’ that is my belief system. Hopefully this will help you somehow in life.
It seems that there is so much turmoil in the world in regards to the Church. Not just the Catholic Church with its issues of pedophile priests, but also other aspects of the Church. This includes the Anglican Church of Australia who’s Archbishop of Sydney recently told supporters of Same-Sex Marriage to leave the Anglican Church. An article about this from the Sydney Morning Herald can be found here.
Now, I myself, find this to be a rather bizarre thing for anyone in the Church to say, let alone an Archbishop. For the call to evangelism is strong in the speech that was given as an attempt to unite people with God and Jesus. To me, this does almost the opposite considering the famed commandment from Jesus about loving your neighbour as you love yourself. But that’s a topic in itself for another time.
Alas, I feel that such an event was a part of the reason that I felt myself drifting away from the Anglican Church. Even in the very accepting congregation where I live, I cannot justify worshipping God in a physical building that is a representation of what the people in power preach.
This is, in some ways, is a reflection on the controversial ‘Conversion Therapy’ of which is a torturous practice that encourages homosexuals to ‘pray the gay away’. Ironically, the people ‘praying’ for those they see as sinners has indeed ‘prayed the gay away’. After all, I, as a gay man, left the Church. But again, that is a topic for another time.
In this regard, the words of Saint Margaret of Cortona are so relevant when she is reputed to have said: “(My daughter,) I see more Pharisees among Christians than there were around Pilate.” I think this sums up the situation rather well. As there are so many telling people what to do rather than focusing on the words and love of Jesus. So what do you do when you leave the Church? How do you go about finding God outside of the four walls?
Well, to me, there are a number of ways. First and foremost is to pray for God’s guidance and trust what comes forward. In this regard a quote comes to mind:
“Prayer is talking to God, Intuition is God talking to you” – Unknown.
I find this to be incredibly true and that you need to just hold onto the love that God has for you and the love you have for God. Just because the Church of Man, that is humanity, has pushed you out, knowingly or unknowingly, does not mean that God does not love you. He may just have another purpose for you. So pray, listen, act and pray some more. God is everywhere and in everything – including you.
A great prayer to say out loud or in meditation for such a time is Saint Francis of Assisi’s prayer. Such a prayer will help God know that you are willing to take the next step on your journey and will align you to where you need to be. This is the prayer:
“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.”
After you have received guidance from God in regards to where you are to be, it is good to realise that you have started a new journey with God. it is also time to work out how YOU wish to worship God. This could be through very personal rituals of incense and candles or it could be through acts of charity and kindness. Naturally, you will feel drawn to what God wishes for you to do. It can be as complex or as simple as you wish. As Saint Teresa of Avila said:
“From silly devotions and sour-faced saints, good Lord, deliver us!”
To me, such a quote speaks of keeping it simple in your own way. You can choose to worship in nature or at home in a sacred space; you can worship alone, as a pair or in a group. It is up to you. Just focus on the love that God has for you and spread this to others. Act with love and you cannot go wrong.
Of course, I can understand that some people, or most people who leave the Church may miss the power of the Communion that comes from the Holy Eucharist. Whilst you may or may not be drawn to perform your own form of Eucharist, there is a recorded meditation at Rainbow Dove Shoppe that can help you connect with Jesus in a unique way. This is known as Spiritual Holy Communion of which is fantastic for those who either do not feel worthy of receiving the Eucharist or do not wish to receive the physical host. The meditation can be found here. (Link)
Yes, there may well be testing times where you shout at the Heavens and cry, but faith is what will get you by. God is not limited to the physical wood, steel, bricks and mortar of a church. He is everywhere. And he has gifted everyone with the ability to blaze as a beacon of light wherever we may be.
Remember, you are a being of this illuminating energy, a candle ablaze with light, blessed by God to be just this. As such, it is best to remember these words of Saint Francis of Assisi when times get rough:
“All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.”