Let me first start out by saying that I love the Catholic Church. The beauty and truth it holds will never cease to amaze me. I know I belong within the Church.
I also love the community it comes with. Amelia's school has a beautiful community, and I love it. The families I have met from our parish and the school are completely wonderful, and I value our growing friendships.
That all said, we are missing something, friends. While we have a beautiful community, it is not a strong community. Parishes know this. Pastors know this. Some of us know this. But do we do anything about it? Are we willing to put ourselves out there and take a meal to a new mother? Are we willing to come over and do laundry for a family just because? Are we willing to bend over backwards for a family trying to live God's Word and make ourselves uncomfortable in order to benefit someone else? Do we rally behind families going through a tough time, or do we just send a card or some flowers and feel done? Do we get up early on a weekend and pray outside of an abortion clinic? Do we go to a food bank on Thanksgiving and volunteer? Do we offer to watch a mother's kids so she can go to the dentist or even just go to the store alone? Do we pop in for a visit when we know a family is down and out and lend a shoulder to cry on or help with something around the house? Do we make an effort to spend time with other families to build a closer bond?
Some of these things, sure. I know many faithful Catholics that do. But I also feel like there is a limit. We do one thing and feel good about that for a month or two and don't feel the need to reach out anymore. We put ourselves in our own little comfort zone and only step out about half way and then we retreat.
We use excuses like, "I have enough on my plate with my own family," "I don't have the money to do anything of value for someone in need," "I don't have time," "I have already made a meal for a family this month," "I'm busy," "I'm tired," "I.... I.... I.... I..."
Now here's where I'm going to get controversial. The Mormon Church does not have this problem. I know some people think they are TOO involved, that they are trying to keep you in their Church by constantly involving themselves in your life... Well, yeah... they are, I assume. But is that a bad thing? Is it a horrible thing to have someone pop in and check on you, pray with you, read scripture with you, maybe wash your dishes, or something like that? Is it such a bad thing that if you are stuck in another country you know that the community would move mountains to make sure you are taken care of? If you were about to lose your house, to be provided for? If you needed a break, a lending hand? If you are struggling through an adoption and they are there to rally, listen, and work out a solution?
There is likely a happy medium between the Mormon community and what the Catholic community should be. Catholics do so much charity work, but we need to be more personal. We need to force ourselves to get to know those in our community. We need to provide for the people in our community that legitimately need us. We need to take care of our own.
We also need to look within ourselves and ask what we can do for someone else. On a weekly basis, at least. And we need to ask for help when we need it. We not only have to help people, we have to accept help.
I know many Catholics that are wonderful at this sort of thing. Many of us, including myself, are not great at it. But if we were all putting forth an effort to build a stronger community, our Church would blossom into something even more beautiful, because we have the Truth. Jesus wants us to succeed and He wants us to do his work, and I believe His work includes having a strong community.
I love our Church. But it makes me feel very alone.
Society is falling apart at the seams. But our community could flourish and grow stronger with just a few simple acts of kindness and general concern for our brothers and sisters in Christ.