The Spirituality of Communion: Unity

Dear Parishioners,

We continue our discussion of the spirituality of communion with the seventh point—unity. This point and the sixth previous points can be found in Called to be community: a guide to living a spirituality of communion, which is a publication of Living City of the Focolare Movement.

On the night before he was betrayed, our Lord prayed “that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you” (cf. Jn 17:21a). Unity is a priceless gift. It is a feeling of God’s presence among us and within us—God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and who dwells in an eternal communion of love. Since unity is a gift, it not something we can achieve on our own. Still, we can and should earnestly pray for that gift to be bestowed upon the world. We can also show our desire for that gift by loving our neighbor as ourselves—not just our neighbor who is our friend, but also our neighbor who is our enemy. Loving our enemy can be one of the hardest things to do in life. Still, one small step you can take is to refuse to burn bridges with your enemy. That may seem like letting an opportunity for revenge go by or taking a chance with your life, but you may need that bridge in the future. Then you will wish you had it.

When I was serving in the U.S. Army, a lot of backbiting went on in my unit. Things got so bad at times, I heard people say if it came to a time of war the first person they were going to “take out” was so-and-so in the unit. Well, our unit was deployed to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in September 1991 after the Gulf War. We were nevertheless considered to be in a combat zone. When we arrived in Riyadh, all of the backbiting went away overnight, and we hummed like a new car. We knew our lives depended on each other. It was a marvelous sign of unity.

Name a time when you experienced unity with others. How did it feel? Share your experience with someone else.

Brother Ian

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Embracing the Promise of Easter

My dear grandmother, Esmeralda Arana, died in her sleep, early in the morning of Sunday, February, 22. That very afternoon I flew to Lima, Peru to do the funeral. It was important for me to be with my family and offer my support during this moment of loss. The kindness of relatives and friends that came to offer their sympathy was comforting. As we celebrated Grandma’s 92 years of life, we felt heirs of her strong faith and great sense of humor. As I said to the many relatives that gathered, Grandma made us laugh throughout her life. Although we will miss her greatly, we believe she’s in the tender hands of God.

Days after the funeral, my mother and I remembered that the last time we took Grandma to church, was for my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary at the Basilica of the Most Holy Rosary in downtown Lima on December 8, 2014. Watching the video of the anniversary mass for the first time, I saw Grandma in her wheelchair right next to the front pew. I will always treasure in my heart the last time I gave her communion. Thank God for the video! I will be able to relive that moment over and over. And thanks to my mother who made sure that Grandma, who was already blind, was taken to the Basilica for that occasion.

As we sent her back to God, I simply thought: Praise the Lord, for Grandma Esmeralda, a woman of faith and laughter! And thank you, my dear parishioners, for expressing your sympathy in so many gracious ways.

May we continue to prepare, through this Lent, to embrace the promise of Easter: eternal life for those who, like my Grandma, love God and neighbor.

Peace and blessings,

—fr. Juan, O.P.

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