Church and country are places to come home to

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If home is where the heart is, Ginny Kubitz Moyer's heart is in a Catholic church in the land of the free.

Guest blog post by Ginny Kubitz Moyer

For me, being a Catholic is similar to being an American. I didn’t choose either one of these identities, but I love them both.

Actually, let me qualify that statement: there was choice involved, at least as an adult. Twenty or so years ago, I intentionally distanced myself both from the U.S. and from the church. As a junior in college, I studied in Paris, where I looked at American culture with the perspective that only comes from distance. I learned to value what was admirable about our country (good customer service, the energy of possibility, smoke-free restaurants). I also saw what was less-than-perfect (the lack of interest in learning foreign languages, the workaholism, the bread).

I went back to Paris after college to teach English, but after trying it for a year, I realized that the expatriate lifestyle was not for me. In the final analysis, I couldn’t see myself living anywhere other than the United States, because I was more American at heart than I had realized before leaving.

Similarly, in my college years and early 20s, I was more than happy to shed my Catholic identity. A life without organized religion started to sound very appealing to this cradle Catholic. Interestingly enough, it was in Paris that my faith began to renew itself. I loved visiting old churches, with their jewelbox stained-glass windows and their soaring ceilings. And while I gazed up at the Gothic arches, I was seeing them as an insider, not just as a tourist. Catholicism, with its incense and candles and stories and prayers, was a part of my DNA. I didn’t fully realize that until a few years later, when I sensed that something was missing in my life, and that I could find it by going to Mass again. I went back tentatively at first, then with more confidence. I haven’t stopped.

I’m not always proud to be American. Certain foreign policy decisions over the last several years have made me sad, at times angry. Similarly, the sex abuse scandals are an indelible blot on the church that I love. But in the end, both the United States and the Catholic Church have shaped me, challenged me, and filled me with a sense of the possible. I’m back home, both geographically and spiritually, and here I plan to stay.


Ginny Kubitz Moyer is a U.S. Catholic contributor who blogs at Mary and Me.

In honor of our country's official birthday, we're asking U.S. Catholic friends and readers what's unique about being an American Catholic. To submit your answer (about 200-600 words), e-mail onlineeditor@uscatholic.org.

Guest blog posts express the views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of U.S. Catholic, its editors, or the Claretians.