Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Join the New Frassati Prayer Community!

Photo © Melissa (Emmy) Cecilia
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how I haven't found a good, solid community that I felt a part of. I've tried pushing myself outside of my comfort levels, allowing my extroverted side (which exists... way, way, way deep down, lol) to come out while I tried new things. I joined a young adult group, we switched parishes, and I started accepting more invitations to go out with friends. It's something I hadn't done since a little before I reverted to the faith. I don't feel a part of the young adult group (which I joined 9 months ago) because I don't get notified of all the meetings they have and I have zero contact with the members outside of the meetings I do attend. We can't always get to Latin Mass with the FSSP priests (who we're big fans of) because my mother works most Sundays. Basically, things haven't worked out in our favor.

As I also mentioned in another post, feeling rejected and like I was a terrible Catholic was the devil's way of kicking me while I was already down and it took me months to realize it. Once I figured that out, I tried to remember that discovery whenever I felt the same way. It's still occasionally hard but it does help. I still have trouble getting to Mass often though I've gotten so much better about that in recent weeks. Some days I'm physically unable to go (palpitations, too lightheaded to drive safely, physical pain, etc.) and I try to do spiritual communion when it happens.

I'm taking baby steps to get my relationship with God back on track. In fact, that's what I've been doing these past couple of weeks. I don't blog often these days (sorry!) because I've been so busy working on my third novel. I can spend most of my waking hours writing, rewriting, and editing because my deadline is next month. Still, despite the fact that I haven't shared much, I still pray and I still try to keep God in my mind throughout the day. I try to see the blessings He's given me... and it was during one of these moments that I realized that I was wrong about one thing: I do have a good, solid community... it's just unconventional, in a way.

When we think of a community, we think of the people around us: neighbors, parishioners we see at every Mass, people we interact with (face-to-face) most often. What I didn't realize is that my community has been mostly virtual due to distance. I'm one of the few of my core friends from my teens-mid 20s that are still in L.A.... and the only one who has stayed put and not moved closer (or outside) the city limits. Some friends I've met online and I do occasionally see. Others, I haven't seen in ages because we live in different states (and, occasionally, countries). Others I've only known online but have become part of my "crew." All of these people have inspired, challenged, and have prayed for me over the years; they've been for me through so much despite the distance.

When I realized this, I immediately felt guilty. I didn't mean to not include them as part of my community. I always assumed community was about the people who physically see... but I realized it was all wrong. It's not about who you often see but whom you are in contact with; with whom you choose to surround yourself with, even if there is a distance. Duh, Emmy... you DO have a community.

My community is amazing. My "core" community is compromised of married friends and their families, my godson and his family, a single mother with whom I went to school with during my undergrad years, a couple of single ladies, seminarians, a religious brother, priests across the U.S. and Canada, local FSSP priests, friends who live all over the U.S. as well as in Europe. Then I have my extended community. I don't call or text with them but I do interact with them through social media. We are a community, whether we want to be or not. Why do you think I was so miffed and wrote the last blog post? I didn't want to see my community destroy itself due to things that ultimately don't matter.

So many things changed when I had this realization. I became more intentional about keeping in contact with them (though, mea culpa, I've been slacking a bit because I get too into writing some days) in whichever ways worked best. I haven't been active on Twitter for a little while (I'm sure no one has noticed) but I do pray for everyone. Not only do I do this, I've made the decision to return to the young adult group despite how I feel I'm treated by the other members because I realized that what I love most about the group is what I learn from our spiritual adviser. I'm not going for them -- I have my own community who loves and nurtures me -- but for the sake of my relationship with God. Our adviser (an FSSP priest) is a great, holy man who has helped nourish my spiritual life in little ways every time I've attended a meeting and that's all I could ask for.

A quote of Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati's keeps popping up in my mind: "I would like for us to pledge a pact which knows no earthly boundaries nor limits of time: union in prayer." That's what I propose we -- this online community we're a part of -- do: keep each other in prayer. There may be distances (some great; greetings to my regular readers across the globe and especially in India!) but prayer can be something that unites us in such a positive way. How many of us feel alone, rejected, unwanted during difficult moments? Who wouldn't want to think that during moments of trials there were people out there praying for us?

When I was an undergrad, 5-6 years ago, I had a great desire to create a Frassati group at my alma mater. Of course, that didn't end up working out because they seem to be allergic to orthodoxy (hey, I call it like I see it). A few years ago, I once again tried to get one started at my (then) home parish but was met with too many obstacles and oppositions that I couldn't get through. I can't seem to find a way to get a physical community going so I had the idea of creating an online community.

Today I finally went ahead and created the Frassati Prayer Community on Facebook. The object of the group is simple: to unite ourselves in prayer and encourage spiritual growth. Because it will be an online community, things will be a bit different than physical groups. Of course, prayer will be the main focus and I do intend to have frequent novenas posted if I see an influx of prayer requests regarding a specific topic (i.e. vocations, health, work, etc) or if a particular feast day is coming up. We can't take field trips or get together to do things but you are always welcome to share links to things such as soup kitchens, fundraisers for church or religious communities, and events that would help nourish the spiritual life of others. I know many people can't regularly attend meetings or be part of a prayer community at their parishes due to illnesses, familial responsibilities, or time constraints so I think this could be a good alternative to those. Unlike the rest of the Frassati groups, there is no age restriction for this online community.

You are all welcome to join and spread the word to anyone who you think may be interested. I have no qualms about banning Negative Nellies and trolls. There is enough negativity in social media and I want this to be a little corner of the internet where fellowship and goodwill are found. Y'all know how much it's needed when we are at our lowest moments.

The group is visually plain as I'm writing this because I literally created it while writing this post but I will be updating it with photos and more information throughout the day since I have the time (thanks, writer's block!).

It took me 5-6 years but I finally got a group under your patronage going, Bl. Pier Giorgio! lol.

And that's it for now. I need to go eat lunch (it's 2 p.m. and I'm starting to get lightheaded from the lack of food) and then get the group picture and banner figured out.

I hope you are all having a lovely week thus far!

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