26 years ago my husband, Chris, and I decided to take the leap and swim the Tiber. He suggested we start praying for God to place people in our lives who could help us navigate the waters. Little did he realize God, in His Divine Providence, had already supplied our need. For months, Chris’ co-worker Bill had been inviting Chris to conversation about the Faith and to attend a Catholic young adult group that met on Fridays in the base chapel to pray the Rosary and Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Once it dawned on us that this was the answer to our prayers we began attending the Friday night prayer group. Afterward we’d all hang out at a local restaurant or one of the group member’s homes to eat a bite and engage in lively conversations about the Faith and life, very often into the late hours of the night. It was in this community that I learned to pray the Rosary and Chaplet and embraced a solidly orthodox Catholicism. Our young friends were very well versed in the Faith and current events within the Church and were a perfect resource and support community for us and our budding Faith.
Unfortunately, being also a military community, it was not long before the group began to break apart and scatter, assigned to new bases across the world. Gratefully, even from a distance, many members are still a part of our lives and it is a source of joy for us on the occasions we are able to meet up once again. Chris and I frequently reflect on how God provided so generously in our need, knowing how much a community of faithful friends would build us up and prepare us to branch out on our own as fledgling Catholics.
As we’ve moved about the world we’ve been a part of many wonderful parishes and Catholic communities, but nothing quite as intense or as spiritually rich as our first, until recently. Just over a year ago we began attending a Latin Mass offered on Friday evenings. It began quietly and small but in the last several months it has grown and flourished and become a grand weekly event to include Adoration, Benediction, a shared meal and a talk and/or fellowship following Mass in the Extraordinary Form. Friday Nights in Park City have been built and billed especially for young adults but our family and other more mature attendees have been warmly welcomed among the young. We thoroughly enjoy the joyful and boisterous conversation and fellowship.
This group works because it is built solidly first upon the Mass and an authentic understanding and belief in the Blessed Sacrament. It is further guided by our faithful priest who encourages us to pray more, fast more, sacrifice more and to do those things with joy for each other, for the Church, for the world. He then leads and inspires by example. Father is the kind of priest the church so desperately needs. He encourages us to a deeper Faith through the sacraments and a fruitful prayer life but then sits and jokes and laughs with us over coffee, wine, and vegetarian fare.
These Friday nights remind Chris and I so much of those Friday nights so long ago, when we were just baby Catholics trying to find our way. I can’t help but look around at this group of vibrant young people and see Chris and myself of 26 years ago; young and on fire for the Faith. So many of them are new converts and under the guidance and inspiration of our priest and the support of this community they are becoming filled with the knowledge and strength they need to live out their Catholic faith in a hostile world.
This is how it should be—a community built on Faith encouraging and fortifying each other on the journey. As St. Paul so often wrote in his epistles encouraging burgeoning Churches:
“Therefore encourage and build one another up, just as in fact you are doing.”
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds”
“I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”
If you are not part of a vibrant and spiritually edifying community, I encourage you to find one or build one. Be sure to seek God’s assistance in doing so. Everyone needs a tribe. We are not meant to walk this path alone. We need the encouragement and strength of a solid group of friends to help us along the way.