As Catholics, we follow a set of precepts, or rules, as a guidepost for living the faith. They include attending Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation, confession of serious sin at least once a year, receiving Communion at least once a year during the Easter season, observance of days of fasting and abstinence and providing for the needs of the Church.
Of course, the Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith. It is the most intimate gift God has offered us here on Earth: His Body and Blood, soul and divinity. It’s here where we may encounter our Lord in a profound way. This encounter offers us the opportunity to form a relationship with the Lord, which is a critical aspect of our faith.
“We are only Christians if we encounter Christ,” Pope Benedict XVI said during a 2008 audience. “Of course, He does not show Himself to us in this overwhelming, luminous way, as He did to Paul to make him the apostle to all peoples. But we too can encounter Christ in reading sacred Scripture, in prayer, in the liturgical life of the Church. We can touch Christ’s heart and feel Him touching ours. Only in this personal relationship with Christ, only in this encounter with the Risen One do we truly become Christians.”
The Church’s precepts don’t mention Scripture or developing one’s prayer life, but we all know that these elements are important toward establishing a relationship with God. This week’s edition highlights The Cornerstone Catholic Scripture Study, which has a mission to deepen the personal relationship between God and His people through prayer and the study of His Word.
“It’s about relationship with Christ and with community, which is the heart of the Church,” said Nancy Derryberry, who participates in The Cornerstone with the St. Cletus branch.
Through our relationship with God we are able to build relationships with others. Such is evident with staff and volunteers at St. Patrick Center, which recently opened Camp Cole, a clean, safe indoor encampment for people who are unhoused. While a temporary solution, the encampment provides immediate access to needed resources and security, and will serve as a springboard to a more permanent solution, said St. Patrick Center CEO Anthony D’Agostino.
The encampment is an opportunity to build relationships, connecting unhoused individuals with resources — and ultimately, to be the face of Christ to one another. It’s a ministry based in Scripture, said Megan Poole, St. Patrick Center’s senior director of programs for immediate support, mentioning the Gospel of Matthew. (“As you did it to one of these, the least of my brethren, you did it to me,” Matthew 25:40.)
“That’s what we try to do at St. Patrick Center, show that compassion of Jesus to everyone outside our doors and everyone who comes inside our doors,” Poole said.
Our personal relationships with the Lord are unique and will be varied. Some of us may find that in opportunities for prayer and study of the Scriptures. Others will find that in encountering other human beings. Some may find that in a mixture of those things, or in other examples. Pursuing the intimate bond that the Lord wants to have with each and every one of us is important to living a Christian life, and one that is borne out of love for the Lord — and His love for us.