Church in the Wilderness

I love this place.

Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in Moses Lake. It’s a quiet place. It’s the kind of church, the kind of monastery, the kind of religious place, that I have dreamt of.

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For years. For decades.

I have been attended daily mass here in the mornings. I love daily mass. I love daily worship. Even if I wasn’t the best Muslim, I loved the idea that secular time comes to a halt for a bit so that God can become the focus of our time, our thinking, our efforts. I’m not the best attendee of daily mass either, but I went often when I lived close to the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest in Chicago (where they did the mass in Latin!) and then St. Peter and St. Paul Church (part of the Blessed Sacrament Parish in McKinley Park, Chicago) as a kind of daily devotion.

But I also because … I need Jesus. I need grace.

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But there’s something about this place that feels … right. It’s low, quiet, subdued. It has a courtyard with a fountain. The baptismal font is a wading pool, and the water flows. It’s not quite in the middle of the desert, but Central Washington is dry and dusty. And there’s something about the desert that feels sacred to me. A place where I could find God if I wandered far enough into the wilderness so I could hear nothing but the wind blow, and rustle the brush.

The chapel is simple, small, brightly lit (though it would feel better if it was lit by natural as opposed to electric light). The priests are friendly; so far, I’ve not been growled at like I’m a homeless man sitting in the church steps or lectured that saying “and with thy spirit” is changing the words of the very mass that Jesus himself established.

On Wednesday, Father Rodriguez explained to worshipers that yes, priests do have to make confession. “But we try not to confess our sins to the bishop. You don’t want to confess your sins to the bishop!” he said. To much laughter.

Which is true. I can attest to that.

Sitting here in this place, singing the hymns, repeating the words I am supposed to receive, looking at the large crucifix on the wall, I know I belong here.

I feel an ache I have felt for as long as I can remember — I want to give myself to God. Body and soul. Mind and spirit. I want to give myself over to this most important work of proclaiming grace, of listening to the sorrow and suffering of human souls and knowing — as I meet human suffering — I have met Christ’s suffering, and the suffering of God.

I want this simple life. This profound life.

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The genius of the Reformation was an acknowledgment that this holiness, this surrender to God, could and did belong to everyone. Everything can be a sacred vocation. But the Reformation also discarded the reality that some of us are called to more. God may love us all and call us all, but God does love some people more and call some people with greater fervor and purpose.

I want that more.

And this place reminds that more is possible. I will likely never live it, but someone does. And that is enough for me right now.

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