Monday, February 3, 2014

Christian Community: Part 2

Last month I posted about Christian Community, what it is and a few examples Brandon and I have experienced. We have experienced the fruits of community in our engagement and on our wedding day, and have come to know that we are called to bring one another closer to the Lord through embracing our marriage as a Christian Community.

We met at the Fellowship of Catholic University Students Conference in 2010. You can read more about that here. What’s interesting is the place we were each at in our lives when we traveled down to Orlando:

Brandon was two years out of college, meeting with a spiritual advisor and discerning his vocation.
I was in my senior year of college and had just started dating a guy who was completely wrong for me, out of a selfish desperation to be dating someone.
At the time Brandon was feeling like the priesthood might be for him. When his sister, Justine, invited him to attend the conference, he knew going could be a great way to continue his discernment and grow deeper in faith.
When my friend Sara asked if I’d go, I also know it would be a great way to grow in faith and was really hoping to get concrete answers to some of the “big questions” about the Catholic Church that I kept being asked and asking myself.
Brandon would tell you that he was specifically going with the intention of determining what his vocation was…

And, well, I definitely got my answers and he definitely found his vocation!

The next year was full of weekends behind the wheel and evenings on the phone. About six months after meeting we had this super intense, up until 2 am conversation which included defining what we thought we wanted our lives to look like years from now, Christ’s in our relationship, and whether we thought our country boy and suburb girl lives could ever truly match up. Brandon came to the conclusion that maybe they didn’t and I reassured him that yes, they would. We were instantly both more serious about where our relationship was headed. It was also right around this time that we began praying together, mostly over the phone at the end of each day. This pinpoints when our relationship became a community. Although we had talked about our faith extensively, it was at this time that I knew I could lean on him, make myself vulnerable to him. Brandon accepted me for who I was; even if it happened to include an abundance of flaws and hot mess of figuring out quite a challenging year of my life!

I can vividly remember laying in my bed in Kansas City, propping my phone between the pillow and my ear so that I could have my hands folded and still hear him. It was incredible how the simple act of praying together felt so intimate and also so comforting. We were in this life thing together, through sufferings and tribulations and joys.


By October we danced around the topic of a pretty little thing that would fit on my left hand. Exactly one year after meeting Brandon, he proposed and, of course, I said yes. We really wanted to keep our eyes on the prize of marriage and avoid getting caught up/obsessed about the logistics of the wedding day. While I have to admit that I really luh-ove planning events and definitely enjoyed all things wedding planning, we frequently had conversations about how life would be when we were married, how we would deal with arguments and chores and all the other mundane, not-so-romantic parts of having a spouse. We read a few books together, met with the Deacon at the parish we were to be wed, and attended a day-long retreat through the Diocese. Because we were planning for a wedding but focused on preparing for a vocation.

On our wedding day we had two very powerful examples revealing how necessary and beneficial a community steeped in Christ is to the success of our marriage.

First of all: the photos. Around our guestbook sat framed pictures of our parents and grandparents and great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents on their wedding days. “Because they loved one another first” was the reminder that we could not have reached this day, the one signifying our love for and commitment to one another, without the people before us. Without the influence of this community, we would not be who we are today, nor would we be fit to begin life together.

During dinner, in which I ate almost nothing and Brandon ate almost two plates full, we took a moment to look from table to table, reflecting on how many of our dear family and friends were present. Never again would we be in a room with so many people we cared so dearly for: we could physically see each of the many communities we’d been part of gathering together—all to celebrate us! I remember feeling both overwhelmed and humbled at how much God has blessed us by the people in our lives. It was, and just the thought of it continues to be, such a powerful testament to the importance of community.

Although cliché, Christian community begins at home. It was first within the confines of our own little apartment, in the sacrifices and joys of living together, in the conversations about who does the dishes “right” and who’s turn it is anyway, that our community was being built. Word by word and action by action and dish by dish. Remembering that no community is perfect, I am so blessed and proud and humbled by the little one we’ve built.

We try to use a passage from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians as a set of guidelines for being part of a Christian Community:
“Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor. Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the holy ones, exercise hospitality. Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Have the same regard for one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly; do not be wise in your own estimation. Do not repay anyone evil for evil; be concerned for what is noble in the sight of all. If possible, on your part, live at peace with all.”

You may want to take a minute to recognize the communities in your life that follow Paul’s guidelines shared above. What are you particular gifted at? Are there some communities which would benefit from following them more closely?


Although we have so much more to learn and experience, there are a few lessons Brandon and I have been grateful to experience in our short time of being married that I’ll be sharing Christian Community: Part 3. 

2 comments:

  1. Absolutely loved this post Danielle. And being that I have to go in to work now, thats all ill say :-)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Leah! I rather enjoyed writing it ;)

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