Wandering Home: Lessons from the Holy House of Loreto

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Step Three has been a tough one for many of us. In order to place ourselves in the care of God as we understand Him, we must trust not just a person but that Person’s process. Step Three calls us to trust that God knows not just what we need right now but that His decisions for us—past, present, and future—are better for us than any decision we could make for ourselves.

Whether we identify as drug addicts, alcoholics, food addicts, process addicts, codependents, or whatever else, there’s one thing we all seem to have in common: we want what we want when we want it, and when we want it is now. When God’s plans don’t fit what we want in the moment, it’s so difficult for us to remember that He has a plan to give us not misery but a future of hope.

We addicts want so many things, most of them revolving around feeling comfortable and maintaining an illusion of control. When that disappears from our lives, it can feel like God is rejecting us. This makes the recovery slogan “rejection is protection” a difficult one to swallow.

Our Catholic faith tradition, thankfully, offers us a miraculous example of how losing something often just means that God is protecting us for our good. That example is the Holy House of Loreto.

For over a thousand years, the home of the Holy Family in Nazareth was a place of veneration, beloved by Christian pilgrims like Saint Helena and Saint Louis IX of France. 

Then on May 10, 1291, suddenly the house was gone. Nothing was left in its spot in Nazareth but the foundation and most of one wall. That same day, the villagers of a town in what is now Croatia were shocked to discover among their homes a previously unknown stone house, with one wall missing and no foundation.

The house moved again on December 10, 1294, this time appearing in a place called Piceno, Italy. Eight months later, the house disappeared from there and reappeared on a nearby hill. The owners of the hill where the house had appeared tried turning the mysterious house into a tourist trap where they could use pilgrims’ devotion to the Holy House as a means to line their own pockets.

Only four months later, however, the house moved a third time, appearing just enough distance away that it was no longer resting on the land of the exploitative owners! This was the house’s final stop, in December of 1295, in a town called Loreto, Italy.

Why would God pour all this miraculous energy into moving His childhood home out of the Holy Land? While the house was making its way around the Mediterranean region, the Holy Family’s hometown of Nazareth had entered troublesome times. Three years after the house’s initial disappearance, all of Nazareth was ravaged by invaders hostile to Christianity. The Holy Family’s home would have been destroyed had it stayed where it was.

Humans could not have known that the Holy House soon would have been subject to desecration. God, however, knew. God removed the home from the backyards of the people who most likely loved having it nearby and loved the visitors who came to venerate it. However, God was thinking far longer term than any human can think, and thus He could protect this precious treasure.

Undoubtedly, to the Nazareth neighbors of the Holy House at the time, that protection looked like rejection.

Especially when we are in our addict-minds, we are prone to terribly short-term thinking. This is why the trust that comes when we take Step Three is so vital to our recovery. When we turn our will and our lives over to the care of the God who knows what’s best for us long-term, we surrender that momentary strangulation of the mindset that is so characteristic of the addicted brain. In that surrender, we accept directly from God’s hand opportunities to be rescued in ways that we could never rescue ourselves.

When we find ourselves struggling to believe that God and His plans for us are trustworthy, we can meditate on the Holy House of Loreto and remember that God sees a future that we simply can’t. We are wise when we trust Him with our past, present, and future.

The Church celebrates the optional memorial of the Translation of the Holy House of Loreto on December 10. Our Lady of Loreto, pray for us to accept God’s plans for our future and our hope. 

Do you need to surrender your short-term mindset to our long-term God? Find a CIR group where you can find your new home.

Erin McCole Cupp, certified trauma recovery coach in training, is recovering from compulsive overeating, binge eating behaviors, and developmental and betrayal trauma. She writes and speaks about mental health and addiction recovery from a Catholic perspective. Check out her latest course “Real Food: Catholic Virtues for Permanent Weight Loss” at erinmccolecupp.podia.com.