So I've been in Paris for almost 7 weeks now. I obvously have been ignoring this blog because I was trying to go about as low tech as possible this summer. (meaning I left my laptop in the States) Paris has obvously been great. My high school French has been coming back to me bit by bit. There's history everywhere and I'm almost at the point where I'm beginning to take the pervasive presence of fresh baked bread for granted. I've made weekend trips to Lisieux, Chartres, and a small monastery in Belgium called Chevetogne.
I figured it would be good to publish some reflections on how being here has influenced my faith, though. In some ways, visiting France right after joning the Catholic Church is like going to stay with distantly related in laws right after getting married! As a Protestant I could feel distant from parts of history and culture that I found weird but identify with the ones I liked.
For the downs of the past almost two months, I would include some disorientation, which might be in part attributable to just being in a foreign country but also maybe to encoutering a culturally Catholic country as a Catholic for the first time. Other downs probably just stem more from a general sense of impatience at figuring out what I'll do with my life.
It hasn't been all downs, though! I feel like overall this summer has actually been quite good for my faith.
In one case, I think I've acquired a whole new appreciation of the Sacrament of reconciliation (confession) by being thrown off a bit by little things. I had some trouble finding reconciliation in English, but the two times I've gone here were both excellent experiences. I've always longed for this sacrament, and it's so amazing to hear God's love reaching out to me again and again. Both the discussions in reconciliation themselves and the search for English confession times have helped to instill in me all the more that this sacrament is an act of God's love and by no means a burden or a hindrance to forgiveness. I have to admit that part of me had and maybe still does try to make it into a source of anxiety, another pile of ducks that needs to be put into a row, but that doesn't mean that's what it is. I'm learning, and I'm grateful for God's love.
I just finished reading a book (in French!!) that was a dialogue between Pope John Paul 2 and some French guy who I'd never heard of. Its vocabulary and such was above my reading level in French for sure, but I still understood a lot of it and enjoyed it.
The liturgical year nourished me, providing continuity and leading me to reflect on different aspects of the faith. I was led to pray to the Holy Spirit in the days leading up to Pentecost and I really believe I'm becoming aware of the small ways I can choose to be led by the Spirit in my daily life.
Pilgrimages are always good. Whether it was meditating on the life of Therese and God's calling on my life in Lisieux, or learning to trust God as we wander through a rural Belgian town miles from where we need to be, God works in us especially in those times where we're thrown out of our routines and aware of the fact that we, the entire Church, are always moving towards something good and something spiritual.
Monks are awesome. nuf said.
And as weird as relatives can be sometimes, they can also be really cool! More than ever I can feel a mix of pride, humility, and gratitude when I walk into a beautiful Church, when I see people coming from around the world to see art which was produced for and still is used for and as worship. I feel even more the presence of the communion of saints in my life, and it's a beautiful thing!
Have to run and meet some friends here so hope there aren't too many errors in this post. God bless!