I'm a cradle Catholic. I like to say my family, in a large part, has been Catholic since St. Patrick converted Ireland. But, for a time I was a CINO Catholic.
No, not that I disagreed with the teachings of the Church. Even considering how poorly catechized I was, I never doubted the Church. I was a CINO because I didn't attend Mass for several years when I lived in Seattle. Still considering myself Catholic, but not keeping the basic and most critical commandments. I was Catholic enough to know the grave state of my soul, but ignorant enough to figure God wouldn't "call me home" while I was separated from the Church in this way.
I didn't see that I was exercising my own free will and would be held accountable for it. God's plan for my life would go on as planned, it was my choice to be in a state of grace, or not, when "my time came." A very risky and fool-hardy game to play given I'm not a gambler.
On one occasion when my father was visiting, he asked me, being the good dad he was, when was the last time I had been to confession. I told him it had been awhile. It had been years.
Guilt can work wonders and my dad had unintentionally pricked my conscience enough that I was ashamed at how far I had drifted, how long I had been away from the Church. Undoubtedly, it was the prayers of my father and many others that had kept me on the straight and narrow during the time I was "outside" or "separated" from the Church and no longer in the state of grace. Now that I keep myself in the state of grace through frequent reception of communion and confession, I see how utterly important and essential that grace is, and am humbled in the realization that someone, many someones, must've been praying for me to have kept me from falling into any of the many pitfalls that are out in the world.
After I went to confession with a priest who was very liberal (it was hard to find one that wasn't liberal in WA at this time), the repulsion I had at my sins and not wanting to have to go through the emotional ringer of purging everything and coming back to the Church again, I resolved I would get my back side back to Mass every weekend.
The abuses were the primary reasons I drifted away from the Church. My husband and I couldn't find a parish we could half-way agree with. It was irritating. It was frustrating. Eventually, I figured that if I was just going to be angered and upset each time I went to Mass, then I might as well not go. This wasn't a sudden decision, it happened gradually as I became more and more angry at the abuses going on, even in the "conservative" parishes.
I did struggle a great deal after I came back into the Church to find a parish I could deal with. We spent a lot of time parish hopping, hoping that each weekend we would find a "home." Parish after parish, abuse after abuse. It was bad, it was almost disheartening.
However, I did come to realize that I was there to see Jesus and the early Christians gave their lives for this privilege. Despite the abuses and the upset I felt, I realized there was some pride on my part underlying all this contentiousness and finally saw I was there for Jesus and could put up with an hour of irritation and sometimes a circus atmosphere to be with Jesus and to receive Him in the Eucharist. Pride finally aside, I saw that I was the one hurting my relationship with Him by dictating the terms and only wanting to attend Mass if the conditions were perfect and to my satisfaction.
And Catholics around the world were grateful to even be able to attend Mass. Some were risking their lives to practice their Faith and here I was wanting things my way.
Attending Mass then became as it should: a privilege and honor to be with God. I was able to tune out so much of the rest of the bunk around me, offer up whatever distracted or angered me, and just concentrate on the reason I was there.
NOTE: Thank you Chris for bring a hugely awful typo to my attention! You are a saint. For the rest of you that read this and didn't say anything, if God doesn't get you, I will :) Hope you all had a good laugh...such an apropos error. I didn't hardly sleep last night and I wrote the post every early so that's my excuse!