What I learned about the Church from Tim Hortons

By: Natasha Milavec

I was in line at Tim Hortons today (this can’t get more Canadian, eh?) and I overheard a young man in front of me speaking to some friends about why a friend of his has left the Church. This young man basically said that it came down to corruption in the Church, and his friend had had it.

Now I love my Mother (the Church), and so I couldn’t just stand there in line without saying something! So I casually introduced myself into the conversation and said that I was intrigued. The young man was friendly (this is Canada, after all), and what ensued was an interesting conversation as I attempted to defend my Mother, the Church, and show her true beauty. I don’t know what kind of impact I had on this young man, but our conversation ended amiably, and as the line broke up we walked our separate ways.

As I am reflecting on what just happened, I do not think it is a coincidence that this conversation took place in a Tim Hortons – I promise, there is an analogy here.

Why do people go to Tim Hortons? People go to Tim Hortons primarily to be nourished, both physically with the food and drink they consume, and even socially through the conversations and gathering that take place. Analogously, Catholics go to mass, Catholics belong to the Church, to be nourished by her, both in the Eucharist and in the spiritual gathering that takes place when we come together to worship as a faith community.  

Now say you go to Tim Hortons and you get a rotten doughnut, or you have a bad experience with one of the people serving you. Do you make a solemn vow to never go to Tim Hortons again? No, probably not, because you recognize that there is a deeper reality going on, which transcends even the worst experience. You know that, as a Canadian, Tim Hortons has a deeper meaning for you – it’s the place where you had your first Timbit, it’s the place where you and your family would go after a day of skating, it’s a place that is essentially the same no matter which location you are in. For the average Canadian, Tim Hortons is more than one rotten doughnut or one bad experience because in some sense it has become a home.

The good news is that the Catholic Church is much more valuable and meaningful than Tim Hortons. It’s a universal home for millions of people around the world. Throughout our lives as Catholics, the Catholic Church is there, supporting us – at our Baptism, at each and every Confession, in our Vocation, in our sickness, in our joys, and in our sorrows. Most importantly, the Catholic Church is where we are nourished by the Eucharist – the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ. The Catholic Church is our Mother. We need to belong to her, for our own good, no matter how much a bad experience, boring homily, or corrupt Catholic may make us want to walk away. In our heart of hearts we know this truth: you don’t walk away from your Mother.