While “Saturday Night Live” might not be the best place to get spiritual guidance, one of the skits, about the difficulties of making friends, popped into my head as I sat down to write this week. It’s super hard to cultivate community, especially when we are all so busy with school, work, and life responsibilities. But look at Jesus, they were saying: he was a 30-something adult male with twelve best friends; yes, twelve!
And they weren’t wrong. Jesus had an incredible group of people who literally dropped everything to follow him, support him, and love him. Jesus and the apostles were #SquadGoals [Editor’s Note: Teen speak for finding a friend group], if you ask me. If God created each one of us to be part of his family, how exactly are we supposed to go about finding a place in that family? How are we supposed to find our faith family; our own group that’s #SquadGoals?
The good news is, there are so many ways to create fellowship in faith communities. Faith is meant to be shared, discussed, challenged, and otherwise engaged with — one of the biggest barriers to community-building is feeling a lack of common interest with the people around us — so even if you are different in absolutely every single way from the person sitting beside you in church, you’re both there. You both know an experience of God, and you automatically have something to discuss with one another.
We’ve talked about it before, but small groups are an incredible way to build a community of fellowship. Jesus tells us in the Bible that, “if two of you agree on Earth about anything for which you want to pray, it shall be granted to you by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
Not only do small groups help us explore the teachings of God; Jesus also tells us that the intentions and prayers shared in small groups “shall be granted.” Here at St. Brendan’s alone, we have small groups for everything from Marian devotion to walking to parenting to Ignatian spirituality; find more information on the parish website or at the welcome desk in the back of the church.
If the established small groups don’t work with your schedule or aren’t totally your speed, what about creating one of your own? It doesn’t have to be anything crazy complicated. Just call a friend or two to meet for coffee at Noe Valley Bakery on West Portal, share a pastry, and talk about living as a Catholic. That’s a small group, right there, where you can experience mercy, authenticity, sympathy, and mutuality.
Or what about finding a faith community online? Like and follow St. Brendan on Facebook, or even follow a few Catholic Instagram accounts (@coffeewithsaints, @blessedisshe__, or @dynamiccatholic are great places to start). The best part about building a faith community is that it can have many, many pieces and iterations. My first faith community was a chocolate club with a priest very dear to me. If I can have a chocolate-based small group, you can have one too.
--Claire Kosewic, Volunteer Bulletin Writer
Though it may not seem like it when we’re trying to keep our Lenten observances (how many days is it until I can drink coffee again?), Lent is one of the fastest moving seasons of the liturgical year. It’s only 40 days, which translates to about five or six Sundays, depending on whether or not you count Palm Sunday as the last Sunday of Lent or the start of preparation for Easter. For a season meant to be of quiet penance, reflection, and personal growth, it doesn’t seem like you get much time!
But one of the best ways to capitalize on Lenten observance is by maximizing your time in prayer, especially on Sundays at Mass. Mass often feels like an event to check off the calendar, and it can be very easy to forget that Mass is a prayer (the most important prayer we have as Catholics). However, with a little bit of intentional commitment, it’s relatively easy to reclaim Mass-as-prayer.
There are many forms of the Mass, however. They all celebrate the same Eucharist, the same mystery of the bread and wine manifested into the Body and Blood of Christ (side note — every time I write about or think about the miraculous mystery of our faith, it astounds me), but each with a bit of a different flair.
The Novus Ordo Mass is the one that we are all (likely) the most familiar with. Translating literally to “New Order,” it is the style of the Mass adopted post-Vatican II, and is characterized by the priest facing the congregation, the Mass being said in the common vernacular, and lay people being heavily involved in the celebration.
The Latin Mass, Tridentine Mass or “High Mass,” is quite a bit different than the Novus Ordo. When one attends a Latin Mass for the first time, it’s incredible to imagine what a change it was for priests and lay people alike to transition to the New Order Mass. During the Latin Mass, the priest mostly faces away from the congregation, and most of the prayers are silent or spoken very softly. A choir will chant certain parts of the Mass while the priest prays, and participation of the congregants is “interior, involving eye and heart.” (Star of the Sea offers a Latin Mass every Sunday at 11:30 a.m.)
The Divine Liturgy, also known as the Byzantine Rite, is celebrated by Eastern Orthodox Catholic Churches. While somewhat similar to the Novus Ordo, there are some distinct differences, especially in regards to the traditions of Communion. Normally, the bread is leavened (symbolizing the risen Christ), dipped into the chalice, and offered to each person with a spoon. The priest also says a personal prayer over everyone receiving Communion, and normally asks your name as you approach. Other prayer offices, like Great Vespers and Compline, are also often held throughout the week in Orthodox communities. (Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church offers Byzantine Rites every Sunday at 10 a.m.)
An interesting Lenten observance might be to try out some of the different types of the Mass, and see if any of them speak in a particular, meaningful way to you to help you worship more fully. Sometimes all it takes is something a little different to help us reclaim the mystery of faith.
—Claire Kosewic, Staff Bulletin Writer
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