How does it feel to go to church when you're homeless?

(A bronze sculpture by Canadian sculptor Timothy Schmalz)
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This week’s guest is Eve Tushnet, a contributing writer for America. Her latest article is “What it’s like going to church when you’re homeless.”

Ms. Tushnet says she was inspired to write the article when she saw a fellow parishioner leave Mass early, then saw him later asking people for money. “He had left so he wouldn’t miss anyone,” she explains. She began to realize that “the we of the church includes a lot of people who don’t have stable housing or are living on the streets.”

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In speaking with persons experiencing homelessness, Ms. Tushnet was surprised by “how much the Eucharist comes up.” She elaborated: “In the Eucharist, you have such an intense and personal relationship with God that’s distinct” from any other problems in one’s life.

Ms. Tushnet describes the difficulties people face when trying to find spiritual communities: “Everyone felt wary [about looking for a church].” One woman was turned away by churches and did not come back to the faith until priests came to speak to her and her husband when they were sleeping on the steps of a Catholic church. Expecting to be sent away, “she was surprised by the fact that the priests sat with them, talked with them...and began to reach out and help them.”

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