• July 17, 2013

Orientation Program:
Sheer Joy Wooven into Community Life

By Jessica Anderson

From June 24-July 7, four young people including myself attended Orientation for the mis­sions that we will soon go on. It’s safe to say that we all entered the Blessed John Paul II house in Brooklyn with very high expec­ta­tions. It’s also very safe to say that all of those were far sur­passed in the two weeks that we were there. Throughout the two weeks we all agreed at dif­ferent points that it felt like we had been living there for months, because it seemed like it should take months to expe­ri­ence all of the beau­tiful encoun­ters that we expe­ri­enced. These encoun­ters were espe­cially pre­sent within the com­mu­nity and within the house.

I admit that of the three pil­lars of Heart’s Home: prayer, com­mu­nity, and com­pas­sion, the one that I paid the least atten­tion to was com­mu­nity. It’s some­thing that comes from being American since we often are taught from early child­hood to be inde­pen­dent. We are taught that suc­cess comes from finding your way alone. Dependence is seen as weak­ness when really the ability to depend is a great strength. In Heart’s Home com­mu­nity isn’t just the people that you live with, but people to love and be loved by also.

Another thing that has stuck with me (lit­er­ally since my stomach still aches a little from all of the laughing that occurred) is the sheer JOY pre­sent in the house, deeply woven into all of the rela­tion­ships in the com­mu­nity!

Pope Benedict XVI talks about how "unem­bar­rassed joy has become rarer because when one rejoices he is afraid of destroying the sol­i­darity he has with those who suffer. The con­trary is true. The world needs people who dis­cover the good, who rejoice in it and thereby derive the impetus and courage to do good. Joy, then, does not break with sol­i­darity. When it is the right kind of joy, when it comes from the per­cep­tion of the good, then it wants to com­mu­ni­cate itself, and it gets passed on." I think that the joy within com­mu­nity life in Heart’s Home epit­o­mizes what it means to be joyful in the midst of suf­fering. And I am so thankful to now be a joyful part of this.

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