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.