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There’s No Place Like Home

Gus Kellerman, Young Adults MinisterGus Kellerman, Young Adults Minister
April 19, 2024

After a busy Holy Week and a joyful Easter celebration, I traveled home to Indiana for five days. I had really been missing home, and I looked forward to spending time with my family. I had planned on doing a lot of things and going to a lot of familiar places, but not everything went as expected.

I have been struggling with my faith for a while, at least for the last two years of college, maybe even since the height of the pandemic? There have been stretches of time when I’ve attended Mass each week and prayed between Sundays, and there have been stretches when I didn’t even think about church. In those times, if I found myself in a pew on Sunday, I’d sit with my eyes glazed over, failing to open myself in any way to the Word of God. I would speed through each prayer, feeling anxious and distracted, wanting to get it over with quickly. Why, in these stretches, have I kept up these practices? I’ve been searching for something. I’ve been searching for some reassurance that God still loves me. In these times, I have often felt discouraged, frustrated, and faithless.

One night in Indiana, as I sat down in my car after a day at my parents’ store, I realized I had left my keys behind. Silly me! As I went in to retrieve them, I passed my dad on his way in. He was in a hurry and wasn’t able to make it to perpetual adoration. In a rush, he asked me to go instead. I agreed, of course, but I hadn’t been to adoration in a long time. So I drove to the church – the parish of my childhood. I was the only one there. It was quiet. I didn’t know what to think. What would I do? How would I pass this hour to keep the Eucharist from going unattended? As I entered the church, it was dark. It smelled so familiar. In some strange way, it smelled like my childhood. I entered the chapel, picked up a Bible, sat down, and wondered what I was doing there. This place felt strangely like home. My spiritual home. I hadn’t been there in so long, not during school breaks, not during quarantine, not since childhood. Yet, it felt so familiar. It felt like I never left. I felt a little clumsy, for lack of a better term.

As I was sitting alone I did the only thing I could think to do. I started to pray. I asked God what to do. I asked God why I hadn’t felt God’s presence in so long. I started to feel guilty. I don’t know how much time passed. Then I looked at the monstrance. I started to shiver. I felt like I had been struck suddenly. I felt the compulsion to open the Bible. I opened to the Gospel of Luke, and the first story I read was in Luke 15, The Parable of the Lost Son. I felt so overwhelmed that I couldn’t stop myself from crying. It felt surreal, but I felt like, for the first time in a long time, God loved me. It felt impossible. I didn’t plan on going to adoration that night, but God knew that what I had been searching for – for so long in other places – was to return home, to my spiritual home.

For the first time in a while, I feel like God is actually listening. Believing is not always easy, but what we often need in times of spiritual strife is to revisit the physical and spiritual homes of our faith. We need to give ourselves the chance to rediscover those places and things that first allowed us to feel connected to God.