Thursday, October 11, 2018

Reason no. 10 why I remain Catholic: Community

A Christian alone is a Christian in danger.

We need community. We need not only the support of our fellow Christians, but we also need their accountability.

When I was younger, I didn't fully comprehend why we needed to go to Mass every Sunday. It was pointless to me. I felt I could just worship God on my own. I could go anywhere and "be with God".  After my conversion, I was in for many surprises. I not only discovered the True Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, but I also discovered that I could not do it alone! 

Living Christianity in the modern world is a great feat. It is completely countercultural. What the world tells us and what Christ asks of us are complete opposites. This cannot be lived in isolation.

God created us to be a body of people. The Church is the body of Christ. "...we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another." Romans 12:5

We were created in and for relationship. We were created out of God's love in order that we may love Him back and we were created so that we may love and be loved. "Man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself." (GS 24).

What does it mean to be a gift, a gift of self?
"Becoming self-gift means that God has entrusted to each and every one of us the task of giving ourselves in love to him and to one another. We are, in fact, to become increasingly like God, who, in his very essence, is self-gift: Three Persons giving themselves eternally in love to each other.
To become self-gift is our primary vocation."

It is only in this act of giving ourselves to God first and then to others (i.e. spouse, friends, family), in an unhindered love, that we can find our true happiness. It is in seeking to give our love and receive love that we find the true purpose of our life.

In Italian, they have a beautiful way of saying "I love you." They say, "ti voglio bene" which translates to "I want good for you." This is essentially what true loves is: to want good for the other. Love does not seek to fulfill itself but rather it seeks to make the other happy.

In our relationships, in our friendships, we discover that true Christianity can only be lived in a community. We need our brothers and sisters to move forward, to inspire us, to give us courage and to correct us when we have failed to do what is right.

So who exactly is our community? Firstly it is our family at home. Then it is our parish community. Those with whom you share a pew week after week. It is those you share your faith with, in prayer. It is also the larger community of your diocese as you seek to do community works as Christians for the betterment of your city or towns. And finally, it is that body of Christ, which is the greater Church, the worldwide Church. It is humanity itself whom God gave us to be our family. Therefore, we must give ourselves by willing the good of all persons.

The greatest good we can give to all of our brothers and sisters is to bring them Christ, the source of all goodness. Community is not only essential, in our Christian walk, but it is also vital.

Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

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