This #JVStories is written by Bridget Barry a FJV and JVC staff member about the liturgy, their generational experience of Catholicism and storytelling.
By Bridget Barry
When I was about ten, I went to a Catholic summer camp where we were taught about transubstantiation. We were told several times to understand it as a literal practice. Upon telling these stories to my grandmother, an observant progressive Catholic, she gently but firmly said she didn’t believe transubstantiation was a reality. It shook me. Shocked my confident faith and perception of deep-rooted familial beliefs.
Years later, in college, as a partially lapsed Catholic, it no longer shocked me. My psycho-social analysis through a feminist lens (say that 10x fast) allowed me to identify with my grandmother’s skepticism. I took disenchantment a step further by being dismissive of the entire practice. Deciding liturgy could not provide any personal growth.
Eventually, my perception of liturgy and worship evolved to a comfortable semi-indifference. I began to attend mass again and still attend mass regularly when looking for peace or answers. But mainly because I think an hour of distraction from my life would do me good.
Recently I was with my grandma again. She said something that shook me. Again. We were with a family friend who asked her why she goes to church. She said going to Mass was driven by a sense of humility. It was a recognition that she didn’t know everything. She could listen to someone else share their thoughts. She could participate in the same ritual that her mother and her daughters did. She wanted to make sure that she was engaged and participating in her local community. She wanted to hear people read stories and appreciate re-tellings and insights. She wanted to contribute to the community building.
This idea has rolled around in my mind since. It’s hard to remember humility is a participatory virtue. It requires listening. It requires a willingness to admit that I don’t know everything. I can’t know everything. It requires me to show up. In the cold, in the heat. To pay attention and listen for the human experiences that have happened before and around me.
JVC for me has been and is about cultivating humility as a participatory virtue. Alongside all of my cogitation about the right relationships with the world and individuals, it is the practice that is an important piece.
As JV’s and Former Jesuit Volunteer’s spend time this holidays season with their families, and engage in a variety of spiritual practices, I hope we can remember to cultivate a sense of humility. A commitment to engagement that allows us to look for the wisdom and enlightenment within others to feed our own.
Bridget is part of the JVC staff and served at Friends of the Poor in Scranton, PA (2016-2017). She graduated from the College of Saint Benedict with a degree in Political Science and English