Going Home

By Jessica Coblentz

My parents continue to reside and worship in the Seattle suburb where I grew up, so the holidays are a time when I return home to the Catholic parish of my youth. I often find myself feeling sentimental as I recognize the things about our community that have not changed. The sanctuary maintains the same woodsy, Pacific Northwest aesthetic, distinct from every other church I have visited around the country. Many of the parish’s liturgical quirks persist. I often find myself singing to the same songs that I memorized during Mass there when I was twelve.

It is not all similarities, though. There is something about experiencing the same-ness of my childhood church that brings out the difference in me. It is as if this community is the control variable in an experiment tracking my spiritual fluctuations. Participating in the Eucharist in the sanctuary of my First Communion confronts me with how the significance of this sacrament has shifted so much for me since that first engagement. Recognizing familiar faces in the pews reminds me of how my understandings about being Catholic have shifted since our last meeting. Going home reminds of me of how I used to take for granted my local parish’s comforting characteristics, thinking that their liturgies and community were definitive of Catholicism everywhere.

Many people have told me that the consistency of the Catholic Church makes it feel like a home for them, no matter where they go. It is like every week’s Eucharist has the potential to serve as a coming home, a stable marker in our fluctuating world no matter which city one finds herself in. I haven’t always thought about it like that myself, but this year’s coming home is reminding me that perhaps my journey to Mass each week can be an occasion for this sort of reflection. Perhaps, this year, the Eucharist will be my control variable as I try to reflect, week-to-week, on the ebb and flow of my spiritual life.

Image from http://www.stjude-redmond.org/images/Church/Stjudeoutside1.jpg.

Jessica Coblentz is a graduate student at Harvard Divinity School and the Pastoral Associate for Young Adult Ministry at the Paulist Catholic Center in Boston. Follow her writing on the Web at www.jessicacoblentz.com.

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3 Responses

  1. […] Going Home Jump to Comments Check out my latest post at From the Pews in the Back: Young Women and Catholicism, entitled “Going Home.” […]

  2. Love the thoughts Jess and interested to see where it takes you. You are so right. SomeTHINGS don’t change, but we sure do and what a beautiful journey.

  3. Thanks for this post, Jess!

    Now that I am back home after my Pacific Northwest “adventure,” I am faced with the familiar that do, as you share, bring out the differences that distract from my prayer
    such as the holy awe of ritual in certain parishes that once mesmerized me as a kid no longer send chills up and down my spine (it’s more like wanting to pull my hair) or that the songs that I once sang freely, I now question, etc. The little things…

    And so, whenever I celebrate liturgy I challenge myself, asking: what did I see, hear, or experience that enhanced my relationship with God, and with the community?

    Ultimately, in this remembering of my experiences of Word, Sacrament and Assembly, I pray to find those instances of when God is revealing God-self. I hope that my reflection (and action) on something so familiar, so “at-home,” will encourage me to look past my agenda and celebrate the hope and freedom that comes through from the Liturgy.

    All this in hopes that I am in the process of ongoing conversion to the person of Christ. Blessings on your journey!

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