Walking in Faith: Community Matters
This past weekend I attended a Saint Mary’s Friends House blessing. Then we shared a light meal and an afternoon of laughter. What do we have in common? We regularly attend weekday morning mass at St. Mary’s. Through this common practice, we have become friends.
I recently returned from two weeks in Fort Lauderdale where I was unable to attend church as I was taking care of my mother after she was released from two months of rehabilitation after hip surgery.
Even though I couldn’t go to church, I prayed and read my Bible daily. I felt myself but monochrome; something was missing in my life.
Then I returned to Breckenridge and my familiar faith practices: rosary at 4:30 p.m. on Monday and evening prayer at 5 p.m. It was a comfort to see familiar faces, and coming back after a two week absence was like coming home.
I felt the same going back to mass on Tuesday and Thursday mornings this week. Once again, my heart was filled with a sense of belonging and community, and my life felt lived in color.
The experience of this stark contrast made me realize an important truth about going to church and finding our own communities within the church.
A familiar Bible verse is, “When two or more are gathered in my name, I am with you there. These words were spoken by Jesus Christ to encourage his disciples. I never really thought about the meaning of these words until I experienced them in action. I really felt a difference between my life with and without my church community.
I was the same person in Fort Lauderdale as in Breckenridge. But I realize that the church is more than just a place to spend an hour a week; it’s more than just another box that we tick on our to-do list.
The church is where we find our community. Maybe not our whole community. We also find friendships in our hiking, biking and skiing groups as well as in our book clubs, knitting groups and community service organizations. But as we’ve discovered over the past year, each of these activities is more meaningful when we do them with others and when we do them in person.
What I discovered is that when I don’t go to church, something is missing in my life. Something is missing in my spiritual walk with God. Yes, I can worship and love God on my own. I do it daily. I can even worship God through church services that are televised through my computer or Zoom.
But worshiping and loving God with other people on Sundays and during in-person weekday services – knowing that I pray with and for others, that they pray for me, that our voices are raised together – is more than I do. cannot accomplish alone.
Our evening prayer service, which always meets through Zoom, became more meaningful as we began to meet in person once a month. The remarkable movement of the Holy Spirit is palpable during this in-person prayer service. What is different?
We recite the same Friday prayer of the Divine Office liturgy. But there are 30 to 50 people present in the sanctuary, kneeling or standing or seated in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, reciting the prayers of the Psalms together, then ending by saying aloud our individual prayer requests for ourselves and others.
“For where two or three gather in my name, I am with them. – Matthew 18:20
Almost daily, Mom talks to friends at her church in Fort Lauderdale and to friends and neighbors at her condo. Now that mom lives with me, I know that an important part of her life here will be finding her own religious community of friends. These new relationships will become an important part of making his life at Breckenridge more dynamic and meaningful.
When I returned from Fort Lauderdale, members of my weekday evening prayer group asked about Mom and said they continued to pray for her while I was away. What a beautiful gift it was to know that the prayers I had mentioned each evening continued even in my absence.
When I attend Sunday or weekday Mass at Saint Mary’s, our benches are often filled with visitors to Breckenridge. They are complete strangers who may only be here for the weekend or the summer. Yet I admire that they took the time during their vacation to come to church and be part of our church community.
Although I do not meet them in person, I am grateful for their presence. Although they have joined us for perhaps the shortest time, when I hear their voices rise with mine in prayer or song, I know that we each have our hearts filled and our minds filled. strengthened because we share our journey of faith together.
This weekend, I hope you will visit a church or place of worship and start the good work of finding your own community there and experiencing a closer walk with God through fellowship with others.
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s “Walking Our Faith” column is published on Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson is the author of 10 novels and non-fiction books on the Faith. She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at [email protected].