I am getting ready to leave Ocean City, NJ where Ed and Ellen Lafferty generously shared their annual beach vacation with me. Ellen is one of the Pious Ladies - she and I, with Debra Hosey and Diane Naylor, have been getting together regularly once a month for food, fun and fellowship since 1984. Ed and Ellen invited us all to OC this month, but I was the only one lucky enough to be able to accept their invitation.
I experienced an epiphany with Ed and Ellen, and it had nothing to do with the beach, which I love. It had to do with "communion". Below is an excerpt from The Gospel Lives in Me, Sr. Margaret Charles Kerry's blog for the Pauline Cooperators. Sr. Margaret Charles is our Fearless Leader, national director of the Cooperators.
As I was reading her blog this morning, it occurred to me that I had experienced communion with Ed and Ellen in a totally unexpected way this week. I don't quite know how to express it.
The three of us had never spent time together before. We had a beautiful beach house they'd rented with two master bedrooms set like mirror images of each other on either side of a central kitchen-living room-dining room area. So we had lots of privacy, but we had lots of together time. And somehow, some defenses of mine came down and I felt COMFORTABLE and WELCOMED as I rarely feel except with very close friends or family.
What did we do? Very little. An evening on the porch looking out at the Atlantic ocean, dining, imbibing wine and coffee, speaking of shoes and ships and sealing wax, and cabbages and kings
An afternoon on the boardwalk. Making chicken cacciatore for them. Watching Ellen make flounder and chicken for us. Beach fudge. Beach fries. Milkshake for Ellen. Knife with a perfect heft for Ed. Piccini's pasta for me.
Bitching and moaning at the stupidity of the world. Merrily and confidently solving said problems of the world. Evening prayer on the porch, Atlantic ocean and New Jersey sky, Ellen's candle.
A week with a couple whose coupledom I know not at all, one half of whom was close friend and one half of whom was long-time acquaintance, turned into a revelatory experience of communion. And I don't know how. But I thank God, and I thank Ellen and Ed, for the serendipity of this week.
Cardinal Ratzinger wrote in Introduction to Christianity that “Christian faith is more than the option of a spiritual ground to the world,; its central formula is not ‘I believe in something,’ but ‘I believe in you.’ It is the encounter with the man Jesus, and in this encounter is experienced the meaning of the world as person.” Jesus, he continues, is God’s witness through whom the intangible has become tangible.
Each of us has to ask the question: “Are you really he?” as we experience the darkness and indifference of the world. This question is an assertion that we want to know and love him more and more so we can confess: “I believe in you, Jesus, as the meaning of the world and of my life.”
Fr. Crespi, S.S.P. writes: before carrying out mission it is necessary to promote a spirituality of communion. Then we answer the deep needs of the world knowing our brothers and sisters in the profundity of the mystical Body, in the mystery of the Trinity. The great program, Alberione says, is the one of the tabernacle: From here I will illuminate. We are light in the measure we live in communion with God. “I am the light of the world, you are the light of the world” Jn. 1:4. This is the mission entrusted to us. We are called to radiate God, to diffuse God’s light.