At some point in my Christian journey, I discovered how vital community is for living a more vibrant faith.
I’m one of the fortunate ones; the discovery for me began in college. I’m not saying my college days were perfect and that I didn’t stumble along like everyone else most of the time, but I did do a few things right. One of them was joining a Catholic prayer group called Covenant-Faith connected to my college’s Newman Center. We met Sunday evenings for food and fellowship and it became something of a lifeline.
Toward the end of our college years, our beloved priest, who had led us and was leaving, too, into retirement, gathered with us at a retreat. As we talked about our futures, he posed the scary-to-us question: Now what? How can you ensure your faith lives will remain solid without this community? We shrugged our shoulders like small children, and then he gently assured us we had it within us to continue onward by finding new communities with whom we could experience the faith life together.
I’m sure few of us in that initial group came into the right place right off. Speaking for myself, those were some painful days of trying to figure out how everything would best fit together, but even that floundering was necessary to prod me along. If I can point to one element that has made the difference between a lukewarm faith life and a vibrant one, however, it would have to be this: community.
When my faith is in a good place, it is because of community. The worst of the dips have happened when I have felt more alienated from that community of fellow believers, oftentimes due to my own negligence. Through time, that community has expanded to include more than one group. I have my local faith friends here, and with the help of things like Catholic radio and social media, the community of fellow Christians throughout the world. Each of these groups helps me keep my faith honed and strengthened.
Just yesterday, a younger mother friend shared something with me on Facebook that reminded me, again, just how valuable community is. First, she wanted to know if she could join me at the abortion facility downtown to pray for an end to abortion. This is a brave step for her, she admitted, but she’s been emboldened.
By what? Community. Her son started Catholic school this year, and being part of that faith community, in a very short amount of time, has made all the difference, she said, adding, “Getting more and more involved with the church and school has really renewed my faith, and my husband’s, too. Let me tell you, it feels AMAZING.”
There’s nothing like moving on the path toward our God with others alongside us. In fact, it’s the way we’re meant to do it; it’s God’s very plan. That my friend has discovered this and feels so enlivened by it brings me great joy. In part because I know exactly what she’s talking about and how great it feels, and also, because I care about her and am so thrilled she is rediscovering God with the help of a loving and supportive faith community.
Q4U: When has community been instrumental in enlivening your faith?