Cross and Anchors statue in foreground with snow covered campus

December 4, 2021

Saturday of the First Week of Advent
By Dr. Andrew Wojcik, Professor of Education

 

My father was a submariner and I moved frequently as a child. We were stationed six weeks in Maine, six months in Connecticut, a year in California, and for short periods of time in half a dozen other places. Unlike my own children, I cannot name a single elementary school classmate. To some, the experience may sound like I lacked a sense of community. It might sound like I am unmoored or lonely. Although, I am socially awkward, I generally do not feel lonely. I think my comfort with community comes from my definition of community which is rooted in faith.

As we moved from location to location, our lives were disrupted. We were constantly experiencing new homes, new schools, new rules, and new weather patterns. However, throughout our moves, our Catholic faith was a constant, and it taught me community has a broad definition. As we moved from place to place, we turned to the Church to celebrate, to mourn, and to puzzle out dilemmas. We learned that community is not a place or a building. Mass can be celebrated outside, on the top of mountains, in the middle of the Atlantic on a ship, in a gymnasium, a cafeteria, and among natural disaster ruins. Community transcends language. I have heard the Mass celebrated in French, Spanish, Polish, and English. Honest, it is the same throughout.

My experience forces me to conclude that community means catholic. Not the capitalized version of the word, but the lower-case word. The word that means universal. If I begin to feel lonely or unmoored, I think about my catholic community. The community which, today, is celebrating Mass around the world. I take comfort knowing that across the world the Catholic community is celebrating Mass and praying together. I meditate my own litany of congregations to remind me that I am a member of a wider catholic community.

Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, pray with us. … St. Jerome’s Catholic Church, pray with us….
Mission of San Juan, Capistrano, pray with us…. Congregation of Holy Cross, pray with us. ……

To read today's readings and all readings this Advent Season, please visit https://bible.usccb.org/.