Doug and I belong to a “Friday” group. We all raised our children together in the community of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception. Many years ago we started sharing the occasional Friday dinner together. Our friendships were formed within this community of faith.
We have a strong sense of belonging that is centered in our parish and in these relationships. We feel “at home” at the parish, whether we are participating in Mass, working at the Country Faire, or fixing broken wiring (okay, by “we” there I definitely mean Doug).
In the Catholic community, we feel this sense of belonging not only in community, but in communion. We are not just a group of like-minded people, or neighbors. We are bound by our faith…We are family
The whole sacramental life of the church is geared towards belonging—together in Christ, in our journey to the Father by the Spirit. In baptism we become one with Christ and with one another; the irrevocable baptismal bond is something that allows us to call each other brothers and sisters.
In a recent gathering, Pope Francis spoke of Christian community, of belonging:
Our identity is one of belonging. To say ‘I am Christian’ means to say: ‘I belong to the Church. I belong to this People with whom God established an ancient alliance that is always faithful.
“We are not Christians as an individual, each one on his own,” he said.“None of us become Christians on our own,” but rather “we owe our relationship with God to so many others who passed on the faith, who brought us for Baptism, who taught us to pray and showed us the beauty of the Christian life.”
The Church can be described as both a family and a community. We live with the life of Jesus Christ, claiming the One God as our Father. Sharing Jesus’ life, we also share His mission. We are created and redeemed not for our own benefit alone, but to continue his active presence in our world, keeping alive the hope of eternal life.
We pray together, eat together, work together. We love each other. We share a deep gratitude for our community of faith, and our individual relationships with God.
Together we seek the next steps in this eternal life. We don’t all believe the same things, raise our children the same, or vote the same (heaven forbid!). Yet we belong, in community and in communion.
It is this sense of belonging that leads to greater involvement and stronger support. And that is the essence of stewardship.
Within the last few years, Doug & I have moved just a short way away, but it affects how often we see all of our Friday Group. Last week we gathered and felt the ineffable comfort of being with this “family.” We still belong. We are blessed, and we are grateful.
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