NOTE: This post contains graphic descriptions of my religious beliefs. It is not my intention to offend anyone or cast aspersions on anyone's faith, and I hope no one is. I admire you for doing your thing - whatever it is - and I just try to do mine.
My mother bore and raised five children, and one of them consistently attends - and believes in - the Catholic Mass. No matter what I try to tell her, I think she feels like a failure because of this.
I quit taking Communion in the spring of 2006. I was doing research and came across an article about the growing Catholic communities in Africa. One bishop, who had been recognized for his ministry by the Pope, held regular "condom burning ceremonies." This wasn't some crackpot report; this article is similar. Sitting in the library, surrounded by other students, I was suddenly so angry that it was hard to see. I literally got hot. I called my mother. I don't think she was happy with my decision to forgo Communion, but she tried to understand.
This wasn't the first time I'd struggled with religion. I almost didn't get confirmed (in 2002) because of the sex abuse scandals that seemed to increase by the day. But I took it seriously, and the sacrament was very meaningful for me. A lot has changed since then. I've made decisions that the Church regards as morally wrong. Since I'm not sorry for them - I refuse to be sorry for them - I don't go to Confession and I know I'm not in the state of grace necessary to participate in the Eucharist. I go to Mass when I'm home because it means something to my mother, but I no longer consider myself a practicing Catholic. It makes me sad, actually. I don't think the Church wants me.
Most recently, Pope Benedict's recent tour through several African countries got me heated again. Even knowing the Church's beliefs and positions on contraception and sexuality, I cannot understand why its leadership refuses to make an exception for Africa. Millions of people are dying of AIDS, and millions more will suffer as a result. Economies can't grow if the 20-to-40-year-old population is disabled or dead. Children can't be educated if they have to care for their parents or run a household. To me, lives trump theological objections to condoms.
So when Mom asked if I wanted to go to Mass last Sunday, I thought for a minute and said "No, I really don't." I said I would because she wanted me to, but she said that would be "hypocritical" on both our parts. Eventually we worked it out and I went, but I get the feeling she feels like she's failed. It's not her fault at all, though. We just have come to very different conclusions about the nature of things.