I'm back from my honeymoon so I'm just now reading the majority of these replies. It's been a little crazy lately. If it seemed like I was "going through the motions" it may be because I haven't practiced my religion since I was a kid. It' s no secret that I'm not familiar with the customs or traditions of the church, but I have certainly
taken it all very seriously and done my best.
As for the confession...I said everything I remembered and it helped me reflect on my behavior and past actions. It wasn't like a weight was magically lifted off my shoulders or anything, but it did help me reflect on my past actions and behavior in general. It helped me, but this is only my experience. I can't promise i'll start attending church religiously (ha?) or anything extreme, because that would not be right since I can't make that promise yet. But ever since I started spending some time at the church (after I got engaged) I've warmed up to it which surprised me. I am a newbie when it comes to religion in general I never gave it much thought but I want it to have a place in my new married life. Thanks for all the replies!
I wouldn't cozy up to "religion". Religion is man's attempt to define who God is and to create rules that supposedly get you to Heaven. You don't want religion in your marriage - you want God in your marriage. I wouldn't go through priests or a church to reach God. I'd go through my heart. While many protestant denominations are also "religious" instead of spiritual in nature, at least many of them acknowledge direct relationship with God rather than going through a priest or preacher.
Besides, church today is nothing like Jesus taught Paul to set it up. Back in the first-century, the first Christians were originally Jewish, so they were Messianic Jews. They met in homes. A building was not called a "church". The people were called the "church". Ekklesia is the Greek word used in the Bible, which is more accurately translated as "the assembly". You wouldn't call a building an assembly, you'd call the people the assembly.
Back then, the assembly was a bunch of people partying in honor of what Jesus did for them. At sunset Saturday night, up to 40 people would gather at one of their homes. You would walk in to find music, people singing and dancing and orderves, much like parties today. It was all very Jewish.
Then, there would be a big meal. You'll know it as "communion", though the term didn't come around till the 8th century, if I'm not mistaken. They would start the meal off by breaking bread and everyone eating a peice of it. They would eat the meal then at the end, they would pass around a cup of wine everyone would drink from. Those two things were done in rememberance of Jesus' last supper, which is where we get communion from. Just as He and the apostles had a meal, so did the Christians back then.
There was no preacher/pastor/priest, because all of us were called Kings and Priests. After the meal, an elder would stand and read a Psalm and/or an apostle's letter to one of the churches. Then, it was open-floor. The people would each, individually, share what God was putting on their hearts to teach the others. Everyone was a teacher, and everyone learned. Jesus was the head, and He would speak through His people. Everyone got to be used by Him, where as nowadays, everyone sits idle and listens to a preacher tell what his denomination believes about God. They don't get used by God weekly, and so they are not fulfilled sitting in a church. Most of them don't get to help others frequently like they used to throughout the week in the first-century church, which brought in many converts. Anyway, eventually, after the revelations from God ceased, the people would head home for the night.
In the 400 AD era, Constantine became emperor and mixed Paganism with Christianity, and suddenly it was illegal to meet in homes, and temples/cathedrals/"churches" were commanded as the meeting place for Christians (they were mostly converted Pagan temples). No one got to teach anymore unless they were "schooled" first. They changed from doing the meal to a priest administering "communion" eventually, and they changed from confession straight to God to confession to a priest. You see, Constantine hated the Jews and wanted to wipe out all Jewish tradition from Christanity, and the "church" building was part of his way of doing it. Most everything in Catholic tradition has Paganism mixed in with it. I'll explain...
When Constantine mixed Paganism and Christianity and they started using Pagan temples as churches, lots of Roman Pagan tradition got mixed in, as well. The priests, for instance, were just like the Roman priests. Look at the Roman Pagan priest's robes. You'll find that they not only have the exact same look as the Catholic robes, but they both even share the semetrical Pagan cross on the collar. Gee, why would the Pope have a Pagan cross on his robe collar instead of a Christian cross? Strange, right?
Well, the pope's hat comes from the Pagan god Picies, the fish god. Originally, the fish god was called Nicolae, and in the Bible they were called the Nicolaetins. Nicolae was half man, half fish. If you look up some pictures of their drawings of him, you'll find that he basically wore a fishhead on his head pointed straight up, and the body of the fish went down his back and the tail flipped out at his feet. This is where the cloak came from. It's why the Pope wears robes and a cloak. The cloak is the flowing fish body with the flare at the end being the fish tale, and the hat is the fish's mouth pointed straight up, hense the open mouth of the hat. Compare the pictures of the old Pagan priests and Pagan crosses that predate Christ and you'll see how they're exactly like the Pope's robes.
Also, let's not forget where old Saint Nick came from. Saint Nick is also from the Pagan fish god Nicolae, hense the name St. Nicolas. Look up some old pictures of the Roman god Jupiter. It would seem the Romans were mixing gods or something to that effect, because they ended up giving their god Jupiter a different hat than the fish hat. Instead, he wore a triangular hat with a ball on top, exactly like St. Nick's hat. In fact, you can still go to cathedrals today over in Europe and see his statuette on display. Oh, but he's not called Jupiter in the chathedral. His name is St. Peter. You see, many of the Pagan idols were placed in the temples back then and pawned off as Catholic saints. There's one church in which the statuette of St. Peter (aka - Jupiter) has no toe left on his foot, because it's worn off from years and years of people kissing the toe. This is where they got the kissing of the Pope's papal ring.
Oh, and many of those catherals were built, in all of their gold plated glory, with money from sins. Yep, that's right. The Catholic church was selling "indulgences" back then to build their churches and bring money in. Indulgences were get-out-of-jail-free cards. You could pay to sin, basically. If you wanted to rape a 14 year old girl, you paid about $2.17 cents, approximately, and the church would give you a piece of paper (an indulgence) so that when you were caught raping a girl, you would give it to the church and you were let go. For less than $5, you could commit murder and get away scott free. That's how those glorious cathedrals were built back in the 12th century.
Oh, and let's not forget the many cathedrals built entirely out of the bones of Christian martyrs. Wouldn't you absolutely love to go to church and be stared at by thousands of skulls in the walls? If you haven't done it, well then you haven't lived!! lol You see, back then, they were mystics. They believed those bones and anything a Christian martyr had touched was a powerful relic. This is how the Holy Grail became famous, and wars were supposedly fought over it. However, those wars were just a cover, in reality. The crusades were supposedly to go and find the Holy Grail and free the Holy Land. However, what you find out historically is that the leader of the Holy Roman Empire wanted to expand his empire and he had heard that the Holy Land was ripe with resources that would make him rich. So, the Catholic church told the people that if they went and fought in the Crusades, their sins would be forgiven. And that is how they got so many willing soldiers to go down and kill the Muslims. The Catholics owned the Holy Land for a VERY very short time, and then the Muslims took it back again. While I like the idea of Christians possessing the Promised Land, I'm not sure that was the best way to go about it. lol
I can go on and on about all of the Paganism that makes up most of Catholicism and how very little of it comes from the Bible, but that would be a VERY long conversation.
All of that is to say this: find God in your heart, not in a church or in "religion". Through most of the Bible, God, His prophets and His apostles and disciples are fighting religion, not trying to build it. Religion killed the prophets, religion killed the 12 apostles and martyred millions of innocent Christians. Religion is flat out evil, and that's why God was fighting against it all throughout the Bible, and that's why so many people hate religion and hate God because of what religion has done and how religion has misrepresented Him. God is about relationship, not about rules. Jesus freed us from the law of sin and death and placed us under the Spirit of Grace, so that there is now no more condemnation for those whom are in Christ Jesus, and nothing can separate you from His love and salvation (Romans 7-8). Don't buy into the religious tradition that supposedly saves you. It's Jesus that saves you, not being a good little convert. Ask God to teach you, and learn for yourself by reading the Bible, don't let religious teachers dupe you. God loves His people and will share His wisdom with them directly, not through a preacher. While preachers can teach lots of truth, they can teach lots of false truths as well and get you really messed up. I know the Mennonties and the Southern Baptists (assuming they're part of the Southern Baptist Convention) are about the closest to the truth of any Protestant denominations I can think of. At least looking into some of their doctrines can give you a little insight into some truths which are not quite along the lines of Catholicism. But primarily, you want to entrust your heart and your wisdom to Jesus and let Him teach you through His Bible and through relationship with Him. He sais to worship Him in deed and in truth.
1 John 3:18
My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
"God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Seek Him in your heart, not in religion. That is where you'll find what you're looking for. When I was born again, I felt all of my sins, shame and guild fall right off of me instantly, and I felt God's love and peace and joy course through my entire being. It was an indescribable feeling of freedom and joy. It was like someone had turned on the lightswitch to the world, and I understood it for what it really was, black and white, instead of shades of grey. It was absolutely amazing. Heck, my grades even went WAY up in school because my mind was much clearer instead of guilt-ridden and shameful. I hope you, too, will find that one day in Jesus. Oh, and if you're thankful for everything you have, you can't be lacking in anything, and you will live in contentment.