I often tell people in the beginning of my talks that, I come from a land far far away. After a long pause, the words Tulsa, Oklahoma always come forth from my lips. The teens usually look surprised after that point. A year and nine months ago, I embarked on an incredible journey when I decided to leave my friends, family, and little wiener-dog, Jo Jo, to become a chastity speaker for Generation Life. Speaking entails traveling up and down the east coast, which entails long car rides, fast food, hotel rooms, and little sleep. Granted, evangelizing youth is an incredible adventure, however, feelings of homesickness can settle in at times. Especially when everyone I meet speaks with a thick northeastern draw as opposed to the slow-paced southern twang in which I am accustomed.
That being said, the Gen Life team and I spent most of October traveling back and forth from Philadelphia to Staten Island where we spoke to all of the grades at Moore Catholic High School. Upon our arrival at Moore Catholic, I noticed an image of Our Lady of Schoenstatt, which is a devotional image from Germany. Not a lot of people know about devotion to Our Lady of Schoenstatt. After a long day of retreat, my teammates and I were able to make it to the official shrine of Our Lady of Schoenstatt a few miles away from the school. A sweet sister from the shrine explained to us the three graces that people receive when they visit a Shoenstatt Shrine. The three graces include:
- A sense of home.
- Inner transformation in order to evangelize the culture.
While the above are all equally great graces to receive, especially with being in line with Generation Life’s mission, what stands out most, is a sense of home. After praying in front of the image, we were welcomed into the parlor to eat cookies and milk. In the parlor hung the same decorative picture that my parents have at home hanging in their living room! This is not a common picture either, due to it’s unique and tacky quality. Believe me, I did not mention the tacky part to the Sisters or to my parents! But, God wanted me to know that day that “home” is wherever I am with Him. Home is wherever we are with Him, wherever he has called us, be it in our hometowns or across the country serving as a missionary in another state. Above all, our real home is heaven, and to quote one of my favorite saints, St. Therese of Lisieux, “The world is thy ship and not thy home.”
Let us remember that God calls us on a journey and that journey may entail leaving friends, family, and our hometowns, but to keep the bigger picture in mind, that home is wherever we are doing God’s will and with Jesus.