“The greatest disease in the West today is not [tuberculosis] or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty -- it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There's a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.”
The above quote from Mother Teresa paints well the battlefield that we as college missionaries face. From my own experience at Benedictine College to my first few months here at Texas State, I have personally been afflicted by and witnessed this relational “poverty."
An answer to a lonely generation
We have all experienced some level of this poverty: a dryness of the heart that silently screams out with an infinite desire to be truly gazed upon by another, to be known, to be encountered. This desire comes from deep within our soul; a place of greater thirst than any material thirst or hunger we have. It is a place of longing that most people in our modern society try to ignore or believe can never be touched.
Great! So what does all this have to do with the Lord's Day dinner celebration?
The Lord's Day dinner is a monthly event that SPO puts on for students here at Texas State. It consists of prayer, food, and fellowship on a Saturday evening with the intent to "set aside" and begin our celebration of the Lord's Day; Sunday. A typical Lord's Day begins with a few songs of praise & worship followed by the opening prayers; in these prayers, we recognize the gift of Christ's resurrection and also remember the ways He has blessed us both personally and as a community throughout the last week. After the time of prayer we enjoy a meal together and then share the rest of the evening with one another in some kind of activity: playing cards, lawn or board games, having a bonfire, etc. If you were to join us for a Lord's Day celebration, you would find our evening characterized by joy and laughter, the re-telling of stories, deepening friendships, and creating memories that will become the stories of the future.
Below is a brief excerpt from the introduction to the Lord's Day dinner: click here for full pdf of the Lord's Day prayer sheet
As Missionaries, it is our job and our privilege to battle against this normalized isolation of the modern college student. One of the greatest ministry weapons within the arsenal of Saint Paul’s Outreach to accomplish this mission is our rich community life – the collective of many individual lives being deeply shared with one another, which satiates the relational hunger that Mother Teresa so eloquently describes. Inviting students into our lives and our community is part of our response to overcoming this cultural loneliness. It is our hope that through the experience of attending something like our Lord's Day celebration, students receive that love [of Christ] they so deeply hunger for. Please keep praying for our SPO community to respond to the Lord's will, that we may be a light in the darkness!