Church-sickness and feeling unhomed

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January 21, 2012 by Nicole

Well, here I am one month later, and writing you from Franklin, PA in my new life as a pastor’s wife.  So far, so good.  I must say that the people I have met here are wonderful and the town is so nice, and it’s been great fun finally having some time to relax from the stress of life.

The hardest part is that while I am glad that this phase of life has begun, I honestly feel a little homesick…for church.  Living in a town that is a little more than an hour from a major city is somewhat hard; I can’t just jump in the car and head for the mall to go to the bookstore or PetSmart, nor can I go “out and about” to get me some Outback Steakhouse or Logan’s Roadhouse.  And yes, I miss going to Meijer. A lot. But, more than anything else, being uprooted from my parish family and the music ministry at St. Andrew’s Cathedral has been incredibly hard.

For one thing, it’s difficult to let go of what I’m comfortable with–the homilies of the Paulist Fathers, the amazing music at the masses that we always sang, knowing that in all likelihood, I am going to miss out on my favorite service of the whole year–the Good Friday Tenebrae service, and the evening choir family that I have been with for so long.  More especially, as a person who is very attached to tradition and ritual, it’s dually hard to not even be able to find that sense of comfort at Catholic mass in a  new town–as most people know by now, the Catholic Church’s liturgy underwent some substantial changes at Advent a few months ago.  Believe it or not, there is a sense of comfort in knowing that no matter which Catholic church you attend, mass will always be the same.  But as I continue to stumble over all the new wording of the liturgy now, it feels deep down inside of me like even that little sense of familiarity and security has been taken away.

Inasmuch as I keep telling myself that I am just at a different location of the same Church, I find that there is now a very difficult challenge placed before me.  When I go to Randy’s church and listen to him preach and see all of the people there who are becoming our new friends, the way that “things are done” don’t really require much of an adjustment.  God is clearly present in that building to the extent that you can clearly feel the electric love of His presence.

But for me as a Catholic, as much as I love being a part of the faith community at First Baptist of Franklin, I still need to worship God through the Mass; that’s how I connect with him in a way that is deeply personal for me.  Right now, I find myself feeling a mixture of frustration, resentment, and resistance because of the questions I am trying to come to terms with if I am going to continue to nurture and grow in my faith: How do you learn to let go?  How do you continue to connect with God when you move to a new parish where everything–the building, the priests, the people with whom I now worship, the music, and now, even the words of the liturgy–is so different?  How do you open your heart to a new experience and not be so resistant to change?

Well, I guess that’s a good question for the priest at confession tomorrow afternoon.

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