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We Are Not Alone on Our Journeys

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Whenever I travel, I make a point to stop in a local Catholic church, especially if there is a basilica or cathedral nearby. In addition to praying or attending Mass, I snap a quick photo of the church sanctuary to text to my former pastor in Louisiana. He often does the same to me.

On one hand, this habit is a fun way to say “I’m thinking about you and praying for you”—especially because the texts usually arrive as a surprise. But it is also a “thought trigger” for me to pray for that particular priest and, at the same time, acknowledge that others are praying for me.

In a deeper sense, through this practice I am acknowledging the universal Church. I’ve snapped photos of churches in Portland, Green Bay, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Toronto, Denver and, most recently, Baltimore (that’s just naming a few!). As beautiful and unique as each space is, though, it’s impactful as a unifying experience. Because no matter into which Catholic church I step, in the United States or another country across the globe, the Mass is celebrated there; the Real Presence of Jesus lives in that space; and I’m praying in union with other faithful.

There’s something very powerful about that.

Perhaps you’re feeling lonely or struggling with faith. Or perhaps you’re on fire and aching to jump into the world and evangelize every person you meet. No matter where you are on your particular faith journey, when stepping into a Catholic church, kneeling for prayer or partaking in the Eucharist, we’re not only reminded that we are not alone during our journey here on earth, but that it is God who is with us every step of the way.

Pope Francis said, “The whole journey of life is a journey of preparation… to see, to feel, to understand the beauty of what lies ahead, of the homeland towards which we walk.”

This issue of the magazine is about travel and faith. While many of these stories address physical journeys—both for pleasure and from necessity—it’s important to remember that sometimes both faith and travel look more like interior journeys. And there’s no better place to remind ourselves of that than by taking a moment, wherever you are physically located, to step inside the walls of a Catholic church.

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