This weekend was a rough one for me.
In addition to missing home slightly more than usual this past week, I suffered pretty severe FOMO yesterday when I missed my best friend’s graduation party and again today when I missed the annual Knorr family flower-planting event in honor of Father’s Day. (You read that right, Dad—I actually wish I could have planted flowers today.)
In an attempt to medicate my homesickness, I spent yesterday afternoon making my mom’s infamous chocolate chip cookie recipe. When I woke up this morning still feeling grouchy (and additionally bloated from all the cookies I ate last night), I called my dad and let him try to make me feel better.
But even still, as I got ready for 5PM mass earlier this evening, I couldn’t help feeling a little bit down.
It’s easy to move through life with a positive perspective and a Jesus-loves-me attitude when everything is going well and the sun is shining in our direction. But when work stress kicks in or money is tight, life starts to feel slightly out of control and we sometimes forget to look up in the midst of our mess.
But as I walked into mass today (just in time at exactly 4:59PM), I was greeted at the door by two members of the parish youth ministry program. I smiled inside for a moment, remembering my own time spent in youth ministry at St. Paul’s in Joliet.
I took my seat and the entrance hymn began to play. It sounded fairly familiar, but it was only when the words projected up on the wall above the altar that I recognized the song.
“Here I am to Worship” is a fairly well-known Christian rock song that has been re-recorded by numerous bands and singers over the past decade. It’s also the same song that St. Paul’s youth ministry has listened to in prayer before every youth mass since before I first got involved with the program 7 years ago.
And just like that, I started to cry. I see you, God. I hear what you’re trying to say.
All it took was that one song to remind me of what I’d forgotten this weekend—that even when I’m lonely, I am not alone.
One of my favorite parts of the Catholic Church (aside from everything, obviously) is its universality. I am exactly 1,312 miles away from home—yet upon walking into a Catholic mass, I’m experiencing the same readings, responses, prayers and—most importantly—the same Holy Eucharist, that my friends and family are experiencing in other Catholic masses all across the country.
So that universality became all the more apparent to me as I listened to roughly a dozen high school students sing the same song that I sung for years when I was in their shoes.
I spent the rest of mass feeling overwhelmingly grateful for my time at St. Paul’s and the deep connection to my Catholic faith that youth ministry gave me. (The recessional hymn was “Blessed Be Your Name” which is also a big St. Paul’s Youth Ministry song, so naturally I blubbered a little bit more at the end of the service as well.)
I left St. Ignatius of Loyola tonight feeling much better than I had the rest of this weekend. Who could’ve guessed that all I really needed was a Sunday mass to make me feel a little bit more at home?