by Moira Cullings
If you’ve ever been to a foreign country, you know all about the culture shock you might feel when you first arrive.
For me, it wasn’t just culture shock.
It was the feeling that I was on an entirely different planet.
I was a senior in high school when I traveled to Italy with my classmates — my first time out of the country.
Everything looked different from the trees to the cars to the clothes of the people striding confidently down the streets of Rome.
Maybe it was the jet leg or the newness of the place around me, but I felt like my eyes were opened to the beauty of life for the very first time.
From that trip on, I was done for.
Traveling had stolen my heart and there was no getting it back.
I was fortunate enough to take mission trips to Belize four years in a row — the last of which I also had the opportunity to spend time in Guatemala.
The beauty of the culture and the people in those small Central American countries changed my life.
I never thought I’d feel so comfortable and at peace in a place so foreign from the home I know.
Earlier this summer I fulfilled a long time dream when I traveled to Iceland for a week.
The magnificence of the landscape there is indescribable.
Who knew volcanoes could have such a positive impact on a place?
I’ve learned that traveling to new countries is full of adventure, but it can also come with great fear of the unknown and the unfamiliar.
When I reflect on my trips out of the States, there’s only one constant I can think of that each country I’ve been to has in common — the Mass.
I can’t explain how comforting it is to be on the other side of the world over 5,000 miles from everything I know and have something so familiar to count on.
From the Vatican to Reykjavik, the Mass is the same in every way except the language it’s in.
And after a week of driving the ring road throughout the coast of Iceland, it was incredible to walk into a church and know exactly what was happening.
I couldn’t say the same about really any other part of my travels.
Nothing felt like home the way the Catholic Church did.
So if you’re ever doubting the strength of the faith we share, just remember that one thing remains.
Jesus is present throughout the world in the life of the Catholic Church, and he’s not going anywhere.