I attended two beautiful weddings recently and this reminded me of the importance of our community of loved ones, both family and friends, that care, guide, challenge and support us through the everyday joys and challenges of life. Our community of loved ones is our front line, our village that is ready to do whatever we need whenever we need it.
It might seem like an odd comparison, but people join a gym to be part of a community too. They depend on the coach and other exercise enthusiasts with similar goals to guide, care, challenge and support them on their journey to improved health and strength. Some might have started out doing it on their own at home, then discovered that it can be more fun and rewarding to learn, practice and train in a group that pushes them to levels they might not explore or achieve on their own.
It’s the same with our spiritual lives. Our brothers and sisters in Christ guide, care, challenge and support us in different ways as we seek to grow closer to Jesus and to know him better. Those who know us best, and love us the most, are often how God speaks to us about the direction and priorities in our lives.
In my own life, my husband Al has often been one who can help me discern whether something is my will or God’s will. It’s a gift to have those people in our lives who help us to stay on the road to holiness. The fewer detours the better!
Because we are generally social creatures, we may gravitate toward groups almost naturally in different areas of our lives — especially our spiritual lives. Sometimes it might be tempting to to stay safely enfolded in prayer in the quiet of our homes even when we know that praying in community, authentically sharing our spiritual struggles with others, learning from one another on retreats, and serving in ministry can be special opportunities for spiritual growth.
There is perhaps no one more more aware of our need for each other than St. Teresa of Calcutta. She enjoyed the company of her Sisters immensely. She spent private time in prayer daily before the Blessed Sacrament. She gave her life to public ministry. She reminds us that we’re all called to care for others, wherever we are in our lives, and it can be as simple as offering a smile and kind words:
“The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.”
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”
“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”
Take a moment today to pray in gratitude for the communities you are part of and how they guide, care, challenge, support and love you.