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Changed by going

I’ve fallen into a summer routine. There are fairly slow mornings, early afternoons at the library or the pool, and then the hustle to drop my girls off at the dance studio. It’s hot and hazy and just the right tempo of busy. And then, there is this window, nearly every day, when I drive six minutes from the studio to the Adoration chapel of a parish that is not mine. I was entrusted with the code, and I let myself in and take a seat in what is now “my” chair. For fifteen minutes or half an hour or even an hour—depending on the day—I’m about as close to heaven as I can get. I have fallen in love with this place and this time. Mostly though, I’ve fallen in love with Christ exposed. I cannot articulate the perceptible change in my spirit since acquiring this habit,  and I will claim my right as a Catholic grandmother to just smile and say, “It’s a mystery.” A mystery for which I am exceedingly grateful.

As the crisis in the Church has unfolded, my pastor has frequently reminded me that the primary reason we stay—the reason we cannot even entertain the notion of leaving—is the Eucharist. And for over a year, I have heard him when he says it. But it has only been recently that I’ve been drawn to the Eucharist as the means by which we can be healed of pain rendered when we feel betrayed. We stay for Eucharist, so let’s go to the Eucharist. I have, and it has made all the difference. 

There is another new routine this summer. It’s the one where I check real estate sites and research all the components of relocation. As my family ponders a (rather large) move, I’ve done what the manager of a home does: I’ve dug deep into our potential new home. The most dismaying and potentially discouraging thing I’ve discovered is there appear to be no Adoration chapels. Here, there is one in my parish. There is one in the neighboring parish. And there is one down the road a piece, conveniently located super close to the dance studio. But there appear to none in our potential destination. 

I’ve long been told that one way to measure the health of a parish is to see how often confession is offered. My parish offers confession Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and twice on Saturday. It seems like there is always a line.  In my moving research, I discovered parishes that offer confession once a week for fifteen minutes. When I relate my Adoration and confession finding to friends over breakfast in my parish hall, they tell me, “Go! Change that! Make it better.” I want to cry. 

I’m not really an activist. And I don’t yet know where God will take me. So maybe there will be a time for changing things, but for now, I have learned a lesson in immense gratitude. In this diocese, the opportunities for the things that keep us Catholic are abundant and they are healthy. We are here for the Sacraments. We are here for the liturgy. And here, in the Diocese of Arlington, we have beautiful churches where those gifts are abundant. We are in a unique position to access the riches of the Church and make them ours. More than that, the healing grace that comes with those gifts is what gives us tangible hope for the future.

If you are reading this column in your diocesan paper (or on your diocesan newspaper website), Mass, Confession, and Adoration are within your reach today, tomorrow, and the next day. Go! And when you’re there, pray for the Church and pray that the grace available to you so readily will also be made a reality in the places where it is not yet. I promise that the more you go, the more you will be changed by going.

Foss, whose website is takeupandread.org, writes from Northern Virginia.

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019

@elizabethfoss