My church…standing in a distant light.

I’m 750 miles from home today.

I drove from Atlanta to New York to pick up my darling daughter Lulu from college and schlep all her stuff home because she’s going to Rome next semester. And now we’re back in our hometown of Swarthmore, staying with friends for a few days.

I love being here but it’s hard to travel & write. And when I went to St. John’s for Mass this morning, I felt like I was cheating on Lourdes.

Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays…

(Clearly I’ve heard too much Christmas music & eaten too much almond toffee.)

Happy sweet Sunday!

And Happy Birthday, sweet sister of mine, Mary Lou!

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, Atlanta

So, I’m Catholic. A practicing Catholic. And I am therefore supposed to (required to) go to church every Sunday.

I am also (super old school here) supposed to tithe, i.e. give 10% of my income to the church. However, since I have a very modest (okay, pathetic) income and basically live off my husband, I’m just going to pretend, for the purposes of giving myself one day a week off from this blog, that I’m making a reasonable income and go from there. So every Sunday – all year long –I’m going to be giving $100 to Our Lady of Lourdes, my amazing, adorable church in the heart of the Martin Luther King Jr. Landmark district in Atlanta.

Our Lady of Lourdes was founded in 1912 as an African-American Catholic community, financed by Mother Katharine Drexel – a rich Main Line, Philadelphia heiress who founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and donated her fortune to serve Native American and Black people. From the steps of OLOL (no relation to LOL, kids) you can see Ebenezer Baptist Church (where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., his father, grandfather, and brother all preached); and the neighborhood infuses the church’s soul.

I love OLOL so much, it’s ridiculous. It’s small, it’s mighty, it has awesome music (thanks to our Minister of Music and chair of Spelman College’s Department of Music, Dr. Kevin Johnson), and it’s got our brand-new pastor: Father Jeffery Ott, a Dominican friar from New Orleans, and our new Assistant Pastor Father Bruce Schultz … not to mention our affable, groovy deacon, Chester Griffin (whose beautiful wife Janis also leads the choir), a liturgical dance company called Amazing Grace, and some highly gifted & competitive sports teams (of which I’m not a member).

I’m not sure if you know many Catholics, but I can tell you for sure, we’re not the monolithic, homogenized, “jump to the Pope’s every proclamation” pack of lemmings that you may think. I, for one, believe that the church’s stance on birth control is socially irresponsible, morally insupportable, and just plain nuts.  But I also think the church’s position on poverty, social responsibility, gun control, the death penalty, immigration, health care, equality, civil rights, justice, peace, and charity is truly inspired.

For these reasons – and for the reasons I’ll add every Sunday that I go to church and am freshly inspired (or spiritually challenged), I’m making this my weekly tithe. And if you can find a church you love even half as much as I love Lourdes, you’ll feel blessed to support it, too. I promise.

One thought on “My church…standing in a distant light.

  1. Hi Betty,
    My friend, Jane, just sent me this blog. My cousin is St. Katherine Drexel, who has inspired me from an early age. I’m so inspired by you too. Living on faith like you is such an example to us all. Thank you so much for all you do.
    Carole

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