"They worship in a copy and shadow of the heavenly sanctuary, as Moses was warned when he was about to erect the tabernacle."
There was a time when I almost fell away from the Catholic faith. It came to a point when I felt tired of blindly following the Catholic faith's beliefs and traditions. There were a lot of things I didn't understand like the Eucharist, the sacraments, and the veneration of saints and our Blessed Mother. Worse, some of our priests were condemning other people in their sermons and homilies. Whether they were condemning people belonging to other religions or those belonging to the Catholic faith, I believed that even Jesus did not come to condemn but to save.
That was five years ago.
It was only last year when I attended bible studies and started reading more about the Catholic faith. I am blessed to have informal mentors who are well-versed not only in the bible, but also in the writings of bible scholars and saints. I am also blessed to have friends and a beautiful fiancee who lovingly shared their insights and different books about the Catholic faith with me.
I realized how blessed we are with an abundance of texts explaining the Catholic faith. One of which is the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It explains the scriptural and traditional bases of our practices, our sacraments, and even the different parts of the Holy Mass. Slowly, my eyes were opened and my gained understanding of our faith.
One of the most important things I learned from reading the Bible and other texts and listening from priests and spiritual mentors is how our celebrations and traditions were patterned after the practices in both the Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament prefigured the New, while the New fully revealed and fulfilled the Old. Our celebrations and worship were patterned after those of Moses's, which were imitations of what was shown to him by God on the mountain. Our tabernacle was also patterned after that of Moses's, which was also an imitation of the heavenly sanctuary. All of those were fulfilled and fully revealed by Jesus Christ.
Another thing I learned is that while our priests are imperfect, God's Church and His authority are. In the First Book of Samuel, it was God who appointed Samuel as judge and priest. But, when the Israelites asked for a king, God's response to Samuel was, "You are not the one they are rejecting. They are rejecting me as their king." They were not only rejecting Samuel as an authority. They were also rejecting God's kingship and authority of appointing priests. No matter how imperfect some of our priests are, they still hold positions of authority that came from God. Also, our priests are still human beings who face the same temptations as we do. They need our prayers as well.
Maybe you're in the same place I was five years ago. Maybe you're waiting for a priest or someone to fully explain the rationale behind every ritual or tradition. Maybe you're tired of blindly following your faith and you're already thinking of leaving it.
Give it one more chance. Don't give up just yet.
But this time, instead of waiting for someone (especially for a priest during his homily) to guide you, have the courage to ask around — especially from those who know more about the faith. Have the courage to ask questions especially from priests after or before the Mass. Have the initiative to take the first step in understanding your faith.
See the sacraments and traditions with a new set of eyes. Like in our first reading today, we "worship in a copy and shadow of the heavenly sanctuary." Whenever you're celebrating the mass, you are celebrating and worshiping God together with Moses, Jesus, and other ancient people in the bible. After all, God is not bound by space or time. Not to mention, you are also celebrating God together with all the other Catholics around the world. (Which is one of the reasons why we share the same daily readings as well.)
I believe that getting tired of blindly following something or someone including God is His way of telling us to know Him more. We are here on Earth so that He can love us. That's the main reason why He created us from the beginning. God's nature is to love. But, we cannot begin to grasp that nature without making an effort to know Him more.
P.S. I wrote this post mainly for my Catholic brothers and sisters, especially those who are falling away from the Catholic faith. But in case you're from another religion, thank you for reading this post. I didn't write this to argue about religion. In fact, I love listening to my friends who are from another faith. Like what a friend told me years ago, everything good comes from God. I learn a lot of good things about faith and about God from people like you. You broaden my understanding of God. And I truly believe that God wants us to be open and to learn from one another. After all, the greatest of all commandments is to love God with all our heart, our mind, and our soul. We can do that by knowing Him more. Oh, and the second is this: to love one another as ourselves.