Recently former Christian music artist Audrey Assad gave an interview to NCR regarding why she left the Catholic Church.
And it resonated. It resonated hard.
I fell in love with Audrey Assad’s music when I was in high school. I met her after a concert when I was 15, and I still have the picture I took with her (above), in which my smile is too wide, showing just how excited I was. I have prayed with her music countless times. I sang her song “Restless” at my high school graduation (even though it was always my friend Abby’s favorite song, not mine). In college when I attended Franciscan University of Steubenville, a friend and I attended a talk and dinner with Audrey and her then-husband, followed by a tiny, intimate concert at the Harmonium Project’s old concert venue.
Her words about creating artwork and the importance of finding a community of artists have stuck with me to this day.
Audrey has always inspired me by the depth and kindness that is apparent in her words, her music, and her demeanor. I’ve watched her deconstruction from the sidelines, via tweets and her website, and all of it resonated.
But today was the first time I saw her confirm that she is no longer a practicing Catholic. And well, I’ve made it obvious, I’m sure, but neither am I.
I held on for a long time to the Eucharist. Because I do still deeply love it. But as I read Audrey’s interview today, her words on the Eucharist struck me the most: “[Do you miss the Eucharist?] Yes, I do. . . . Another reason I don’t receive is that I know what the institution requires in terms of what makes you a Catholic in good standing, and I just don’t fit those things anymore. I don’t want to disrespect the institution by flouting that. I don’t, out of respect, receive the Eucharist anymore.”
Yes. This is exactly it. I still crave the Eucharist, but I simply do not believe in many of the Church’s moral teachings anymore, and I can’t jump through the loops any longer in order to receive “licitly.” And I can’t bear to attend Mass and skip the Eucharist, either. I’ve done it too many times and it hurts too much.
What sticks in my mind, though, is what a friend once said to me: “If the Eucharist is as powerful and vital as the Church says it is, why aren’t we offering it to the sick and homeless on street corners?” And this still eats at me. Christ said to take and eat. I believe he meant that for everyone. I believe he meant it even for Audrey and myself. But I still can’t get past the Church’s psychological roadblocks to take and eat, myself.
Still, unpracticing and somewhat adrift as I may be, I do believe (or at least hope) in a good, loving divine being. I’ll leave you with Audrey’s thoughts on God:
“There’s something that leaves a trail of breadcrumbs to the heart of the universe, and to me, that’s God. I don’t really have a lot of specific shapes or beliefs around that idea anymore, but I still feel connected to that concept very deeply.”