I went to Church tonight. I also went to Church last week. Why is this blog post worthy? Because I honestly cannot remember the last time I went to Church two weeks in a row.
I got out of the habit of making Church a priority a few years ago, when I stopped leading the youth group at the church (And to be honest, even then, I didn't always go to Mass- I just showed up in time for youth group). There are a few reasons that I stepped away from Church. Some of those, I will share here.
1. I don't 100% agree with what the Church teaches. I know I am not alone in this. And I know it doesn't always matter. But I was stubborn, and felt like I couldn't sit there through Mass in anxious anticipation that there would be a topic brought up where I take an opposite stance. What would I do? Walk out? Sit silently? I wasn't sure, so I just didn't go.
2. Going along with number 1, I started to feel like maybe I wasn't welcome in the Church because of my beliefs. I started to feel like a bit of an outsider. And no one likes to be an outsider.
3. I got lazy. Yep, I'll admit it. I started to choose couch and Netflix time over going to Church. Or my weekends would be busy with family time and Tom time and I chose to "Recharge" in the times that I could have been going to Church.
So here's the thing- I don't believe I am a bad person, or a bad Catholic, because I've missed so much Church. I have an incredibly strong relationship with God. I talk to God quite a bit. I'm a good person. I find my faith through ministry, love, and community with the Sisters and Associates of Mercy. My "Faith bucket" is filled in other ways besides going to Church.
But- I find a strong desire to go back to Church. I'm not really sure where it came from. Maybe that I am getting married soon and starting to think about raising a family in the Church. Or maybe it's just something I want to do for me. Either way, I'm happy to be back.
Tonight, a member of the Church shared why St. Hugo is important to him. He talked about how some of the most important moments of his life have happened at that alter. I could totally relate. I, too, received my Baptism, First Communion, and Reconciliation at that Church. I am going to get married in that Church. My Godson, my nephew, and my niece were baptized in that church. I have attended some of the most heart breaking, yet comforting, funerals in that church. There was a prayer service for my dad, when he was first diagnosed, held in that church. And, for most of my life, my mom has taught at the school right next to that church.
That's what's bringing me back. I can talk to God (And I do) anywhere. What I need, and what St Hugo gives me, is that comfort, security, and community.
Tonight when I sat down, I prayed to have something speak to me. I quickly got distracted, watching people fill the pews and letting my mind wander. But a voice kept telling me "Shut out the distractions, and focus on you". That's what I did (or tried to do) for the rest of Mass. And the message that kept coming back to me, loudly and clearly, was "you do belong here".
Will I make it every weekend? Probably not (I'm being realistic). But will I try a little harder? Yes.
I know that there are plenty of others who have felt the same way I do. and I know it can be hard to go back into a place you haven't visited in a while. But trust me, the walls will not collapse on you. No one is judging you for how long you have been absent (And in reality, they probably have no idea). So if you're feeling in your heart to go back, just go. You never know what might be waiting for you.
With all of that being said, I totally, 100% support that some people get their own "church" through nature, yoga, family, etc. In fact, I often have my best conversations with God when I am on a run. So while I personally am feeling a desire to go back to Church and be with the community that has been such a big part of my life, I know it is not for everyone- and I think that is okay.