The other day, I accompanied my granddaughter and her parents as she had her first Holy Communion. When I asked her how the experience was for her, she said, “I am so happy!” At once this resonated with me—every time we receive the Eucharist we feel that overflowing peace and joy.
How do we ensure that this communion lasts throughout the day and through all our years? It is by embracing the Church as the home and school of communion.
Saint Pope John Paul II gave directives for the future course of the Church at the start of the millennium. He urged Christians to promote a spirituality of communion so that the Church may be made the “home and school of communion.”
Expressing the great urgency of promoting a spirituality of communion, he said: “Let us have no illusions, unless we follow this spiritual path, external structures of communion will serve very little purpose. They would become a mechanism without a soul, ‘masks of communion’ rather than its means of expression and growth.”
What are the essentials of the spirituality of communion?
First of all, spirituality of communion indicates “the heart’s contemplation of the mystery of the Trinity dwelling in us and whose light we must be able to see shining in the faces of our brothers and sisters around us.”
Second, it means “the ability to think of our brothers and sisters in faith within the profound unity of the mystical body ‘as those who are a part of me’”. This makes us able to share their joys and sufferings, sense their desires and attend to their needs, and offer them deep and genuine friendship.
Third, it implies the ability to see what is positive in others, to welcome it and value it as a gift of God, not only as a gift for a brother or sister who received it directly but also as “a gift for me.”
Finally, the spirituality of communion means to know how “to make room” for our brothers and sisters, bearing “each other’s burdens” and resisting the selfish temptations that provoke competition, careerism, distrust and jealousy.
During Chiara Lubich’s funeral mass in Rome in 2008, Pope Benedict XVI recognized her contribution to the Church through the Focolare Movement or the Work of Mary “contributing to make the Church, as our beloved John Paul wrote, always a home and school for communion.” Complementing and supporting the teachings of the Church are the thoughts of Chiara for my column in the Year 2020, the Year of Living Community and Dialogue.