Sunday, 28 October 2012

Week Eleven: Peace Be With You

Before I came to Ireland, I was so excited to go to mass while I was here. I thought to myself What better place to strengthen your connection with God than the most peaceful place in the world? What better place to soak up mass every Sunday than a country that has so many citizens so sure in their beliefs? I thought that mass in Ireland was going to be life-changing. And I was right. Sort of. Going to mass here has changed me, and my outlook on my faith, but not in the ways you might expect. My faith has also been strengthened while abroad, but again not in the ways you might expect. I will never forget my first mass in Ireland. We had just come back from a day-trip and Claire and I raced right from the train station and snagged seats just as the mass was starting. But mass was over in about twenty-five minutes, the priest rushed through everything as if he didn’t even want to be there, there were no hymns, and they skipped right past the sharing of the peace. Most of my other experiences at mass in Ireland have paralleled this one, unfortunately, and it has caused the past four months to have been the least church-going of my life. How am I supposed to get myself seriously into a mass when the person leading the service is acting like he has somewhere better to be, if only he can just get through this one thing first? And going an entire mass without any hymns only feels appropriate if it’s Loyola’s Hopkins Court Mass, with its candles and quiet devotion. And don’t even get me started on the sharing of the peace. Usually a time to connect with family and friends and even strangers surrounding you, the sharing of the peace is one of my favorite moments of a mass. It’s a time for reuniting, for consoling those who you know are going through a tough time, and for reminding people that you are there for them with a gentle squeeze of their hand or a hug. Mass feels incomplete without it, and I’ve felt incomplete leaving almost every mass I’ve attended in Ireland. How has my faith been strengthened, you might be wondering? Well, for one thing going to mass here has made me infinitely more thankful for my churches both at home and at Loyola, that offer such life-giving services. It has made me that much more aware of how lucky I am to have parents who have always encouraged me to explore my own faith beliefs, and have supported all of the decisions I have made. It has made me that much more excited to be back in America, going to services in New Jersey and Baltimore that leave me feeling refreshed and ready to take on the week. And, it has forced me to be creative. Instead of looking for my affirmation of faith in mass every Sunday, I have been seeking it more and more in daily life, something that I had always strived to do, but had never fully understood until this semester. More and more this semester I have begun to see manifestations of my faith in my daily life, and because of this my faith and my outlook are evolving. 

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