When women are discerning their call to religious life, they are very interested in learning what it is really like to live in community. They do not want to see the posed pictures or written statements of how we value community and one another. They want to see us in action – with each other – in everyday moments of prayer, at play, in the garden, studying and journeying together. When asked about our life, I share with them that one of the greatest joys of living in community is the time we spend together at the dinner table.
We often spend an hour or more at table in the evening as we break bread and share our lives. The topics of discussion vary – from what we did that day and whom we met, to current events, theology, weather and whatever our student sisters are studying. If you arrive after dinner has begun, you may be greeted by laughter or the sound of animated conversation coming from the dining room. Following the voices, you will be greeted by a bright room with a very long dining table. Our table, in this particular house, is so long that we five can sit six feet apart, in keeping with the new physical distancing guidelines. However, the physical distance between us fades into the background as we take up our lives, break them open and share them with each other. In these moments, we realize the Paschal mystery present to us as articulated in the Gospel of Luke, “When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him;” (Luke 24:30-31)
The story of the disciples in Emmaus continues with them getting up and going back to Jerusalem to share the wonder of the experience they had at table. Their lives were transformed and made whole again in that encounter with Christ. Thus, we too must go out and share this experience of Christ becoming present to us in community in the breaking of the bread and of our lives. How are you being called to share this with others?
Next time you sit down with your family, community or by yourself, take a moment to become aware of the presence of Christ with you. Be sure to pass it on.
If you feel God calling you to explore religious life, reach out and contact one of our Vocation Ministers. Who knows, someday soon you may be at our table with us.