By Victoria Shand, Junior at The Ohio State University
I am so certain that the Lord calls us specifically into the circumstances of our lives because He has something for us there; the Lord is always intentional. One of those things that I am certain that He brought into my life for a purpose is community. Living in SPO’s Household program for the past two years has revealed the need I have for community in my life.
Our culture constantly feeds us the lie that we are better off alone, that asking for help makes us weak, that loving others more than we love ourselves is wrong. “You do you and I’ll do me”...the list goes on.
But if Jesus needed community, then so do you and I (multiplied by 10!). Jesus’ heart beats and bleeds for the sake of community. He entered our humanity, and lived His life with others. Community is not an event, or a place, or a thing that we do- community is a person- Jesus Christ.
I need holy brothers and sisters to chase after the cross with, to pray with, to serve with, to live life with…but sometimes it is really easy to forget that there is a reality outside of that. Sometimes it is really easy to just close my eyes, or stay in my house, or not have conversations with my family about Christ, or not talk to that person I pass by- but that is the exact purpose of community- to teach us a way of life that seeps into every aspect of what we do- how we live and serve and love.
That is where the Lord also has me now; the school year over, back at home, striving to live the life of truth, beauty and goodness that living in community with SPO has revealed to me.
One thing I am constantly challenged by more than anything is the reality that it is the little, hidden, unnoticed things in our everyday life that are done with great love for Jesus that will change the world. It is recognizing that our Father is with us in each moment, and we can choose to see it, or we can choose to be blind to it. It is living for Christ in the littlest ways, like changing the toilet paper roll, doing those dishes that you left in the sink yesterday (guilty!), making eye contact with people as you walk, choosing to spend time in prayer each morning. We might not always be able to do huge, great things- but my, and our, vocation is love, as St. Therese would say.
Saying yes to these little things in my day helps me to say yes to the Lord in the bigger things too. When we are faithful in the small things, we form habits that allow us to live our ENTIRE lives for the Lord, regardless of where we are or who we are with.
We live the communal life in SPO because God changed our lives. Because we were created for community. Because we have been loved by Love Himself, and know that it is not something to keep for ourselves. Because we encourage and push each other to the ends of the earth to proclaim the message because many haven’t heard!
Love is not blind. It allows us to see things that others can’t see. The vulnerability and commitment cultivated by living in community teaches us to stand to face the world, and say: “I am not afraid- I see you, and I am not afraid. I am not afraid of your brokenness. I am not afraid of your past. I am not afraid and I will love you right now, in your circumstances, in your mess.”
I am SO encouraged during this Easter season and during this season of new beginnings, especially for all my recently graduated brothers and sisters, because the “real world” might be messy, but it is not without grace. And the beautiful thing about community is that it cannot be contained! I take confidence in knowing that SPO is building up disciples on mission who are going out into the world to bring the Kingdom here to earth. Disciples who are not afraid to love, to do the little things with great love. Disciples who are vulnerable and raw and who are rooted in prayer.
WE are community. We are the Church! You and I and your family and your parish priest and your neighbors and your co-workers and teachers. It extends beyond the walls of college, the walls of Household, the walls of Mass each Sunday, and Jesus has equipped us to BE the Church. Jesus provides the grace for us to live with Him and for Him on earth.
Thank you Lord for such a gift!