I was born and raised Catholic. My faith is essential to me and remains a large part of my life. Growing up, I went to church with my family every Sunday. We always helped out the community as often as needed. I went to a youth group in addition to attending a Catholic School. Despite all of this, there was a small piece of me that knew I was missing something. I did not pay much attention to this desire that went unsatisfied. As I grew into adulthood, I realized that I had to listen to that small voice and determine what my faith desperately lacked.
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17, NRSVCE)
Then, in high school, I went on a TEC retreat (Teens Encounter Christ), and I found that missing piece! That missing piece was a place to help my faith grow with people who would help me along my faith journey. After attending the TEC retreat, I met other people who attended TEC retreats and founded a community. This community was going to help my faith grow to its potential. My faith was not something I would be able to grow by myself, and I needed help from others to cultivate what others had already sown into the soil of my soul. This group of people engaged and supported my desire to connect more deeply to Christ and his Church.
This TEC community was centrally located in my hometown region of Indiana. When I went to college, I was no longer close to that community of people. They were vital to me. I did participate in events when I came home from college some weekends. Still, that tiny voice, growing concerns about my relationship with Christ, began to reappear. As I started college, I again noticed this ever-present need at the center of my life. But, what was it? I went to church every Sunday. I had friends who helped me be a better person in faith. Additionally, I participated in campus ministry as a part of the community at SMWC.
While attending SMWC, I started looking more into my faith, but from a different perspective. I wanted to become intimately closer to Christ, but I was not sure how I could do that. It is at this point that I felt called to discern becoming a religious sister. The more I looked into it, the more that missing piece started to fade. I thought I was being called to the religious life. Even when talking to some Sisters of Providence (SP) they asked me, “Why don’t you become an SP?” I gave them the same answer - I was discerning it. One day, I went to a college youth group called Maximize Your Faith connected to Saint Joseph University Parish. The first time I went, I realized two extraordinary aspects of this community. The first being my life has changed because of the people I met. The second discovery: I found that missing piece. I needed a place to help my faith once again. I needed a diverse community to continue to push me to become the person I was being called to be. I was in a new stage of my faith journey, and I needed to be spiritually fed at this new stage. After that first Maximize Your Faith, I no longer felt the call to become a sister. That feeling or small voice was just a sign for me to keep searching in the right direction toward an intimate christ-centered community.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. (Mathew 5:6, NRSVCE)
After graduating college, I am again missing the gift of Christian fellowship inside a thriving community. That small voice again suggests something is missing, and it may be more than just one piece missing. I moved away from my home town and away from SMWC, to live with my husband. With the pandemic going on right now, my husband and I do not feel comfortable going to church in person. The public act of worshipping our God in a community is something that we both miss very much. Watching mass online is not the same and lacks the Eucharistic reception in person, and I feel that it could be one missing piece. I also miss engaging in a christ-centered community in high school and college, where I actively grew in my faith more. I feel as if that is another missing piece.
I want an organization like the TEC community or the Maximize faith group, where I live now. I may need to initiate the start of such a group in my local community, post-pandemic. The pandemic makes these two missing pieces hard to fill. But, with it being Lent, I have started a way I can help build my faith. I have the “Best Lent Ever Journal.” With this journal, I listen to a video and write in the journal. It is a way for me to be held accountable for my faith journey. I don’t think this isn’t exactly what will fill these missing pieces in my spiritual practice, but it is a start.
I challenge you to look into your life:
Do you have a missing piece that God is prompting you to fill with renewed prayer practices?
How can you enable Christ to fulfill his work within you?
How can he fill those missing pieces?
8 O taste and see that the Lord is good;