When I first started to inch my way back to the Catholic Church in 2007, I heard a phrase that was both charming and comforting. "Welcome home," many would say to those either converting to Catholicism or returning to the Church after being absent for years.
"Home" has many connotations. The first definition, and probably most common, is the home one grew up in, a home with parents and siblings. Another definition is one's hometown. Thinking of "home" usually brings back good memories. I was blessed to have been raised in a good home, with two parents who loved my brother and I very much and provided both the material and emotional support a child needs. I have many fond memories of my upbringing.
After I grew up and moved out, returning home always gave me a sense of security and rooted me in what my parents instilled in me; which namely were traits such as self-sufficiency, resourcefulness, sharp reasoning skills, critical thinking, generosity, consideration, thoughtfulness, and relational skills. I have always thanked God for these gifts.
Recently, I've started to see that returning to the Catholic Church, a "coming home" experience, actually provides another perspective that I've not heard too often. It is a glimpse into our real home, for our true state of rest will not come in this life, but in heaven.
I thought of this recently as I attended Mass. I reflected on the amount of peace my soul experiences when I am at Mass. Just the other day, I thought, "Someday, we who love Jesus Christ and His Church will be in a place where there is no more weeping, no more sorrow, no dissension, no violence, no ugly words, no sin -- someday we will be in a place we were created to be in the first place, our true home with our heavenly Father and Creator."
Just imagine. Our world, growing more chaotic and dark by the minute, would be nothing more than a bad memory; if we remember it at all in heaven. All of the upheaval and unrest that the world is now experiencing would be gone. These sorts of topsy-turvey, fighting-for-the-flesh battles are not our calling. We as Christians are called to a higher plane, a spiritual place where we realize that we're not home yet, but someday will be.
This is what Mass has come to mean to me. It is not only a "coming home" time, but a preview of Things To Come. The peace and joy we feel when we gather together in unity to praise God, to thank Him for His blessings, to remember what the precious Body and Blood of His Son, Jesus Christ did to set us free from sin, and to partake of our Savior's Body and Blood so that life remains in us, is extraordinary and a miracle. Every Sunday, and even daily, we have the opportunity to experience a slice of heaven.
The Mass has become more and more my rock, my anchor, my support. When I attend it, indeed I feel like I am "home."
One morning, after seeing my husband off to work during the wee hours of the morning, I crawled back under the covers, but not until I re-made the bed, straightening the sheets and blankets. As I settled underneath the warm layers, I sighed with pleasure. A thought ran across my mind: order brings comfort.
I thought of how a child needs the rhythms and little rituals of a good home life. It provides that child a sense of security as they experience consistency and dependability in their world. Within the Catholic Church, the same can be said of our liturgy. It is consistent and has been for over 2,000 years. It is dependable, in spite of many kings and rulers attempting to destroy it. It provides comfort and strength to those with eyes to see and ears to hear. The liturgy, with it's rich order, brings comfort.
Some may kick against such order, preferring instead to worship in a freestyle method. Some may chafe against the liturgy, feeling as though it is cramped and doesn't allow individual expression. But no one can put a bridle on your soul. During Mass, entering the interior is difficult but very rewarding. Within ourselves, we can connect the dots of what is transpiring during the liturgy and connect with the Trinity. This does not require big screen TVs, professional worship bands, or liturgical dancing.
All that is required is the willingness to leave at the door the desire to be entertained and instead embrace a deeper spiritual drama that occurs within ourselves. And when we do click with what is happening, we experience home.
I am longing for my real home more and more. I hope to someday hear my Father say to me, "Well done, my good and faithful servant." Meanwhile, I think I have a ways to go in helping others get home, too.