When I was young, my favorite book was “I Can Do It Myself”—a Sesame Street classic about, well… doing things for yourself. My parents still tease me about how my preferences in literature as a child were apt for my attitude toward life: Little Miss Independent. And I would take pride in that outlook—doing things my own way, figuring it out as I went along, striving for self-sufficiency as much as possible. And then, I started to hit bumps in life that I couldn’t really manage on my own; that were bigger than my ability to deal with independently. Being able to ask for the help of other people I knew whose lives were oriented toward seeking the Lord and serving others opened my heart more to the goodness of being connected with other people, rather than sticking to my solitary, “I can do it myself” mentality. As I grew into a stage of life where my life was no longer just about me, but about other people who needed me, I came to realize just how much the need for community is written into each of us. Even those of us who really, really like being independent.
It makes sense though: If God our Creator is a community of persons (three persons, one God), and we are made in his image and likeness, then we too are made to be in community with other people. Scripture tells us that where two or three are gathered, Christ is in their midst (Matthew 18:20). As Catholics, we are called into a community that we believe is the mystical body of Christ. Going off to pray by myself (though good and necessary) is not the same as coming together with other members of the body to celebrate Mass, which is what Jesus commanded his followers to do: “Do this in remembrance of Me.” We are meant to be there as a community to encourage one another, to share joys and trials—expanding the blessings we experience and lessening the burdens we carry.
How do we find community? There is much talk of “finding your tribe” or your village, or whatever other comparison we can make. But true community is about more than just connecting with other people who share our interests, outlook, tastes, sense of humor, etc. All those things are good and can help us bond together, but community ultimately should be about going through life with others who are seeking to know, love, and serve God. This is where we find our common ground and begin to build community to help each other through all the ups and downs of our journeys to Heaven.
But what happens when your community lets you down? It will happen. Maybe the first thing to do is to not be surprised. Every community, whether it is a family, a group of friends, a Bible study/prayer group, a parish, or the universal Church is comprised of… people. Imperfect, stained with original sin people. We will let each other down. We might not even like every person that we share community with. We may find others disagreeable, difficult. But the story doesn’t have to end there.
Christ prayed that “they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.” (John 17:21) His desire for us is unity. Being in community with others should ultimately open our hearts to love—to the Father’s love for us, and to our love for each other. Community is where the often messy, hard, and beautiful work of loving one another becomes more than an idea but a reality that we live. Let’s pray for the communities we are a part of—whether small and informal or large and universal—that together we may all turn our hearts toward God and be help to one another on our way to Him.
Chews Life wants to help you form community where you are! We are introducing Rosary Prayer Group meet-ups. A Rosary Prayer Group is exactly what it sounds like but so much more. Imagine, this. A group of the people closest to you (think family, women's group, life long friends, college roommates, you get the idea) gathered together, each individual with prayers and petitions in hand, hearts open eager to unite their prayers together in the Rosary (and lets be honest eager to socialize.) Praying with others takes vulnerability. To share in the joys and sufferings of each other. Rosary Prayer Groups are the intentional place to enter into prayer with the community around you. For more information on how to host or join a group, visit here: https://chewslife.com/pages/rosarygroup.