This year we welcomed in the new year as a “family” - with friends from as far away as California coming to enjoy the peace and quiet of upstate New York.
We had a small retreat for the members of our “Frat Max” (Fraternity of St Maximilian Kolbe) and rediscovered the gift of friendship. Katie I. shares some reflections from the weekend:
It’s hard to put into words what I experienced over New Year’s weekend, spending time with the Frat Max at the ICCC. I think because it was so simple. We went sledding, sang Christmas carols, laughed a lot, baked cookies, built a snowman, went on walks, shared our sufferings and struggles and questions with one another, prayed together, sat by the fireplace telling jokes, and ate meals together. And it was precisely in all of these small concrete moments that I was reminded what it’s all about.
On the retreat, we read a letter from Fr. Mauro-Giuseppe Lepori, the Abbot General of the Cistercian order, that he wrote to the Cistercian community for Christmas. He wrote of many people in Scripture who had met Jesus and had a profound experience of mercy, and then he asked … then what? What happened next? His response: “In the end the answer is simple: They lived out friendship with Christ.”
I think sometimes we spend our lives looking for the next big moment, asking “What’s next?” when really the answer is so simple. Just live out this amazing gift of friendship you have already been given! Friendship can seem so simple, so ordinary. Yet it never ceases to amaze me how powerful it is. But this friendship with one another, this true kind of friendship that leads us to a deeper friendship with Christ is the heart of the Christian life and the mission of the Church.
We cannot love in the abstract. And so it is in friendship, in concrete people and moments and actions, that we learn to love Christ in one another and live out our friendship with him. It is precisely in sledding, singing, building snowmen, and sitting by the fireplace together that our friendship with Christ becomes incarnate. In friendship our joy and gratitude are renewed, our faith is nourished and strengthened, and we put into movement our love for Christ in friendship and service to one another. It is where we remember how to be truly ourselves, where we are deeply loved and challenged, and where we are inspired, once again, to bear witness daily to this friendship that is the source of eternal life.