An oratory should be built as conveniently as possible among the cells, where, if it can be done without difficulty, you are to gather each morning to hear Mass.
– Rule of St. Albert, No. 14
In one of his homilies during our novitiate year (2014), Fr. Billy Bong Manguiat, OCarm, our then novice master, reminded us that as religious and as Carmelites we should develop a love for the Eucharist as this is a reminder of God’s constant presence in us, of the resurrected Christ embedded and alive deep within our hearts.
Jesus said that if two or three would come together in his name, he is in their midst and that if they ask for anything to the Father, it will be given to them. (Matthew 18:19-20).
That is the value of community prayer.
For Carmelites, as should be for all Christians, prayer and contemplation are at the center of our spiritual life.
It is the fuel that drives us, and as such, to pray as a community is an essential part of our day to day life.
It’s not just an obligation but a fulfillment of a desire to create heaven on earth by first building a community strengthened and anchored in Christ through prayer.
The mass is also a form of community prayer where we acknowledge our full dependence on God, where we admit our sinfulness and repent our sins, where we praise and glorify His name, and where we ask for God’s blessings as one Christian family.
And although often times Jesus withdrew from the crowd to be alone with the Father, many times he also prayed with them by bringing them to God and bringing God to them through his teachings and in his every interaction with them.
So, as much as we should have time for solitude, we should also have time to praise God as a community, in that way we’d be able to transform our community into God’s family here on earth.
In what way would I be able to experience my belongingness to God’s family and how could I make others experience this?
Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way which he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Lord, grant me the heart to appreciate the value of community and for me to realize that your kingdom is what we make of our community. Amen.