The Called Me the Wanderer

I didn’t always have five children and a wife. It wasn’t that long ago that I had no children and zero wives. On TV, they make bachelorhood seem a paradise of freedom and adventure. Not for me it wasn’t.

The missus and me just blew past our fifteenth wedding anniversary—a mini-milestone. Not to be glib…oh, never mind, glib it is…I’d rather be in jail than be single again.

The carefree life of a stallion was never the one for me. In those days I was Johnny Lonelyboy. Maybe you’ve been there too?

My restless heart had an emptiness. No time did I have for religion. I spent many an hour devising my own. It had a liturgy and some saints. It had sacred texts and heavenly hymns.

My way of worship was the wanderer’s way. Bartenders, not priests, prepared the high altar. We lit cigarettes, not candles. Irony, sarcasm, and wild abandon stood in the places where sanctity, grace, and sobriety should have shined.

Things are different now. The cigarettes are all ashes. I have rare occasion to enter a saloon—or even a salon. But you can’t keep me out of the Church of the Four Marks—one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic.

That’s not to say that I’m holier than thou. I’m no holier than him, her, you, or anybody. Most days I’m not holy at all. My heart still searches for the respite found only in God’s presence.

But the wandering is over. I go to mass. Sundays—during the week when possible—no excuses. I have to. Without my regular mass habit, I could easily be tempted by the false idols of the old religion.

The wild is faint, but it calls. Still, it calls.

Sunday mass is non-negotiable. Trust me on this. Don’t feel up for it? Go. Bad night’s sleep? Go. Hungover? Go. Hopeless? Go.

I’m not trying to lecture. I’m just telling you what I’ve learned. Sunday mass is the linchpin, the cornerstone, the glue, the foundation. Without it, everything shakes. Neglect it and whatever you’re trying to build will fall.

Here’s another thing—a hopeful thing. People are watching. Your friends, children, coworkers—some of them are still wandering. Go to mass and let them know you do.

Not just once in a while. Not just on Easter. All the time.

Don’t be shy. Don’t hide the way you live; proclaim it. The wanderers are crying, waiting, hoping to come back. Show them how. Glorify the Lord by your life.

What’s lost can be found. You know the drill.

Doubt, belief, sin, redemption—it’s a bit of a yo-yo sometimes. You think you’ve built up a head of steam in one direction and then—SNAP!—back you go the other way.

Go to mass anyway. The answers you seek are there. Even if you can’t discern them, they are there. Even if you don’t know why you’re going, go. The mystery of faith won’t let you down.

We’re all wanderers. You never know where someone is in their journey. Resist the urge to pass judgment—to tell someone that he’s doing it wrong. I try to hold my tongue. My own house is so disorderly.

Let the wanderers in your life know that the door is always open.

From the April 2016 edition of Fairfield County Catholic

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