Erin Jamieson

A lesson on the Universal Church

By  Erin Jamieson, Youth Speak News
  • May 29, 2015

PHOTO GALLERY: On a trip to Europe, YSN correspondent Erin Jamieson felt a connection with Catholics around the world professing the same faith.

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This past month, I was fortunate enough to  travel around Europe for three weeks. I spent time in Berlin, Milan, Venice, Paris and Barcelona. I came home with great pictures, and even greater stories. From amazing feats of architecture, to historical sights, to everyday street life, I had the opportunity to sample the diverse palate Europe has to offer.

In each city, my must-see list always included at least one cathedral. I have always experienced a special sense of awe when standing in a cathedral for the first time. There is something in the integration of Scripture in every facet of a building, so that it becomes an inspired place of worship that transports me to a place of deep spiritual appreciation.

On this particular trip, as I participated in a Mass at St. Hedwig’s Cathedral in Berlin, I experienced a special kind of spiritual awakening.

I will confess that sometimes, as I sit in church on Sunday mornings and participate in Mass, I let the meaning of what I’m experiencing slip away. I am sure I am not alone in this.

The papers I need to write, groceries I need to buy and projects I need to finish blocks me from being fully present in the here and now of the Mass. In these moments, the oft-repeated responses of the Mass lose their spiritual significance, becoming more knee-jerk reactions.

But as I stood in church on a sunny Sunday morning in Berlin, listening to a Mass in a language I barely understood, something hit me. I am not a competent German speaker, but I could recognize some words and phrases, and one really stood out.

“Und mit deinem Geiste.” And with your spirit.

I’ve said these words in English so often that they are as familiar to me as brushing my teeth. Each time, I’ve said it as a singular acknowledgement — my individual spirit acknowledging the spirit of another, often the priest.

As I heard a congregation of Catholics halfway across the world utter the same words, I felt the connectedness of the Catholic family. In that moment, the Universal Church became a powerful reality to me. No longer were the billion Catholics worldwide some distant idea. I was with them and they were with me. Not just physically, but spiritually.

My spirit recognized the spirit of the millions around the world who profess the same belief every week, as we acknowledge the Church, and one another, in faith. Now as I profess those words every Sunday at Mass, I will know that I am participating in communion with not just my congregation, but the congregation of believers around the world.

(Jamieson, 19, is a second-year knowledge integrations student at the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ont.)

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