How to Become a Lapsed Catholic Quickly and Easily

by Father Hal Stocker

1. STOP GOING TO CHURCH ON SUNDAYS. This is the quickest and most effective way to become a lapsed Catholic. Begin in your teenage years. Refuse to get up for Sunday morning Mass when your parents call. Roll over. Pull the covers over your head and scream that you aren't going, and that you're never going to go again. (Make sure you have another place to live!)

2. HAVE AN IDEOLOGICAL FIGHT WITH THE CHURCH. Pick out a ruling and find something wrong with it - pick a fight. (Abortion and contraception are currently topical). Study the issue *thoroughly*. Talk to your priest and *tell* him why you can no longer be a practicing Catholic "as a matter of conscience". Repeat what you've just told the priest to your friends at cocktail parties, to people on streetcorners, to your friends at the corner bar, and clerks at checkout counters. *Insist* that THIS is the reason you really left the Church - not that you really are not too crazy about confessing to your favorite sins, or that you have no intention of stopping a practice that the church feels is sinful, or that you resent the obligation to support your parish at more than the minimal level.

3. JOIN ANOTHER RELIGION. (Be careful not to REALLY join another religion - you'll just have another set of obligations to observe - but *act* like you have.) Tell everyone you have decided that Hinduism is older and more in tune with the Cosmos. (Check the church's rulings carefully, so you can get back in, in a hurry if the Second Coming looks imminent.)

4. BECOME AN AGNOSTIC. This is the intellectual approach. Deduce back to the first cause, then become incredibly confused. Cease attending all church functions (except Bingo, of course!) until you 'get the Faith'. After all, who could possibly criticize you for avoiding practices of which you are not fully 'convinced'?

5. LEARN TO DISLIKE A PRIEST. Remember one you loved, then compare him to this new guy, who talks too loud/soft, is too Italian/Polish/Irish, who never/always comes/goes to my/someone else's house for supper/dinner, who always/never stops to chat with people after Mass. Don't worry about having to go to the neighboring parish because you don't like this guy - you can learn to hate the neighboring priest also, just as easily. One of the easiest reasons to hate a priest is to accuse him of "always talking about money." EVERY pastor is wide open to this charge, and there will be nobody who will contradict you.

6. HAVE THE CHURCH REFUSE TO MARRY YOU. This is perhaps the easiest way - and it gives you full justification for number five (above) as a bonus. Pick out an atheist to marry, then attend PreCana conferences. Insist that you have no intention of raising your kids Catholic, but that they're going to be able to make up their own minds "when they get old enough". Then, tell the priests you intend to go at it like rabbits every chance you get, and that the only reason you want to get married in the Church in the first place is to please your mother. Storm out in a huff when they tell you you will need some counseling before your wedding banns are published.

Needless to say, any of the above will provide an ample opportunity to lapse as a Catholic. Multiples (or even all) will allow a much more convincing justification for the so-inclined. It is particularly effective to run one into another and so cover the entire gamut, leaving practically no defenses whatever against arguments to the contrary. When presented with an objection to any single of the above-listed methods, simply switch the grounds until your listeners tire of trying to get you to commit yourself in public.

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