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My Pilgrimage

COMING HOME TO THE CHURCH

By Juli Loesch | November 1983
Juli Loesch is the coordinator of Prolifers for Survival in Erie, Pennsylvania. She is a Contributing Editor of the NOR and writes a regular column for the National Catholic Register. Her writings have appeared in numerous periodicals, including Sojourners and In These Times.

It’s comforting to know that other people have spiritual crises in their adolescence, too.

Mine came early. It may be that it converged with the emotional bewilderment that sometimes hits kids at that age because of our newly changing bodies and fluctuating moods. It has to do with hormones, some say; but it also has to do with faith.

My mother and father are quiet, steady, gen­tle, domestic folk. All through my childhood, my father did unskilled labor at a laundry. He never made a penny more than the minimum wage. He walked home every afternoon sweat-soaked and tir­ed, occasionally with red burns on his arms from having touched a steam pipe. But he didn’t seem to mind if my older brother and I climbed all over him. This is what his life consisted of: work, his wife and two kids, his reading (philosophy and bot­any), and his garden.

My mother was, and is, a housewife. Our life with her also included going to Mass (Roman Cath­olic) on Sunday. My father didn’t go, except at the Easter Vigil and Christmas Midnight Mass: he liked the Gregorian chant. When that was discontinued, he didn’t go at all.

I used to get into my father’s books, even in grade school: skimming rapidly what I couldn’t un­derstand, and reading avidly what I could. So it was that I came upon a series of tracts against reli­gion. They were called Little Blue Books, publish­ed by E. Haldeman-Julius, and they featured essays by such men as Bertrand Russell, Sir Julian Hux­ley, and Clarence Darrow.

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