Living and Leading in the Deep – Community

September 10, 2023

Community – And every day the Lord added to their numbers

As we have discerned all of the various aspects and desires we were holding for Ignatian Ministries over the past year, community has always been an integral part, or a “cornerstone” of the ministry. Our desire was to create a place to share God’s love for us and share that love with each member of our community. We wanted to create a place to support each other, grow in our knowledge of our gifts, and invite others to go deeper in their walk with Christ. It has, in many ways, and in deep humility, seem to mirror the birth of the early Christian church in the lives of the apostles and those who were drawn to the message of Jesus. I hope to share, in this post, a few examples of how it has felt that way to me. 

Community – A place to belong

They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.  (Acts 1: 42)

There have been numerous times that “community” has helped me through difficult times.  At one point, while working for a corporation, a colleague tried to create a situation that was difficult for me at work. I knew in time the truth would come forth but, in that instance, I was lost and felt utterly alone. It was also a time I was discerning a call to religious life and had been in dialogue with different religious communities. I had been talking with a Benedictine community of sisters, five of which resided in a home in the area in which I live, discerning a call to religious life. They invited me to join them for Vespers, evening prayer, each day. Joining in prayer of the psalms each evening gave me the hope and reassurance that all would work out, which it did, and I ultimately became an Oblate (lay associate) of that community and Monastery. They welcomed me and I felt I belonged, I had a spiritual home with them. 

As you look at the communities you belong to, how do they welcome you and give you a sense of belonging?

Community – A place to lighten the load

With great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all. (Acts 4: 33)

One morning while we were cleaning, my mother fell and was transported to a hospital an hour away, for spinal cord surgery. After the initial surgery and care to be able to move, she was moved to a regular room to begin recovery and rehabilitation. It was during the month of December. I would work each morning, drive down to the hospital, visit my mother, watch her progress in therapy and then help her with dinner. Before getting her settled for bed, while nurses came in to take vitals and check in, I would go to the large chapel in the Catholic hospital for some quiet prayer. Within a couple of days my timing began to coincide with the hospital sisters who would come to the chapel for evening prayer. It was Advent so they chose to pray in the large chapel instead of the small one at their convent. After a day or so, one of the sisters brought along an extra prayer guide and invited me to pray Vespers with them. They welcomed me and raised my prayers with theirs each evening. It remains one of my favorite Advent experiences. My worries and concerns were lightened each day, giving me strength to support my mother with the care she needed. 

Do you have a community to bring your concerns to, a place or a group that you can pray with when your worries or burden feels heavy?

Community – A place to offer our gifts

One of them, a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth, from the city of Thyatira, a worshiper of God, listened, and the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what Paul was saying. After she and her household had been baptized, she offered us an invitation, “If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my home,” and she prevailed on us.  (Acts 16: 14-15 

Sometimes we come to a community knowing we have something to offer. One of my favorite scripture passages is the story of Lydia, the purple cloth dealer. She is a prominent woman, a businesswoman, in her community. She has resources to offer support to Paul, Timothy, and Silas. After being ministered to by them, she wants to offer what she has in support of their ministry and spreading of the message of Jesus to others. This passage has been a guiding scripture for the support, pastoral and financial, that I provide to my parish community and several priests and ministries that have been impactful in my faith life. 

Lydia offers us the example that all the gifts or resources we have – our time, our talent or our treasure, can be helpful to others. We can welcome and encourage others in many ways. What example might Lydia be offering you?

Ignatian Ministries – A home to accompany you

Therefore, encourage one another and build up one another, as indeed you do. (1 Thessalonians 5: 11) 

There are times we feel alone, as though no one understands the depth of the searching in our hearts. We long for a more personal relationship with Jesus and to be with others who feel the same way. We pray for clarity of purpose and vision.  

Our prayer for you, is that Ignatian Ministries will be that home, that place you feel accompanied. A place you find kindred spirits, an Anam Cara, or soul friend, for the journey. We are invited to cast our nets into deep waters, just as Jesus asked Peter to do. Together, we lift those nets full of opportunity to serve and be served; to lift our needs and desires up in prayer or discern the use of our gifts and talents to support each other and this growing community. We hope you will join us! 

Going Deeper:

  • Would you like to experience a deep and intimate relationship with Jesus? Consider joining us on September 11 for our six-week Know, Love and Follow Retreat. To learn more and register today, click here.
  • Join our Community of believers who seek to grow deeper together. Click here to submit an interest form to find out more as we discern new ways, this Fall, to come together and accompany each other on our journey of faith.
  • Are you looking for a community of Ignatian minded individuals to share and pray with? Consider participating in one of our Collectives of spiritual directors, retreat facilitators or pastoral care ministers that gather virtually each quarter. Find out more here

Photo by Jana Doro on Unsplash

Deena is the Director of Programming for Becky Eldredge | Ignatian Ministries. She lives in Oglesby, Illinois among the corn fields of North Central Illinois. She has a Masters Degree in Counseling Education and over 30 years of corporate work experience in customer support leadership, project implementation and process improvement. Deena is a Benedictine Oblate, loves the practice of Ora et Labora (prayer and work), and relaxes and expresses her creativity through papercrafting and mixed media projects, journaling and gardening.

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