Of all the ways we can connect our hearts to our minds in our beautiful Catholic faith, service to others may be the most powerful and efficient! No matter where we are in our faith journey – whether we have been practicing Catholics our whole lives, or maybe just returning after a long time away from the Church – and no matter our age or station in life, every human being is capable of sharing God’s love with another person.
In fact, we are not only capable of serving one another, but we are called to do so by Christ. This truth is revealed to us over and over in the Scriptures in passages as powerful as they are wellknown. Not only is this truth essential to our Catholic faith, but science concurs that being of compassionate service to one another also benefits us directly. Study after study has demonstrated that there are clear correlations between giving of ourselves to others, and better health, increased happiness and peace, and overall enhanced well-being.
Aside from our natural, God-given inclination to serve and help one another, the Eucharist also shows us the way – both in the example of Christ’s miraculous sacrifice for each human being, each beloved by God, and through the grace we receive in the Sacrament. In fact, right before we leave Mass, we are told to “Go forth to love and serve the Lord,” to be Christ in the world for others, strengthened by receiving all of Him in the Eucharist. Since this is the year of Eucharistic Revival in our parishes, it is an especially opportune time to think about how we can serve others, get into the habit and make service through our faith a regular part of our lives. Here are a couple of ideas to get your family started:
• Think of volunteer activities that relate to the Eucharist. The Eucharist for us is the greatest spiritual food, the “bread of angels,” as St. Thomas Aquinas wrote. In gratitude for this spiritual sustenance, consider volunteering as a family for a soup kitchen, starting a meal train for a loved one or member of your community going through a difficult time, or look into beginning a ministry in your parish which provides home cooked meals to those who have recently lost a loved one. A good resource for organizing meals is https://takethemameal.com, which not only provides an actual platform for organization, but also has helpful resources on topics such as how to support someone going through chemotherapy, how to avoid burning out as a caregiver and more.
• Look for local organizations that provide opportunities for service projects you can do at home and/or according to your family’s schedule. Technology is definitely our friend when it comes to this! A quick Google search on “family service projects near me” will most likely offer you several starting points.
• Ask your children for ideas of how your family can serve. Getting kids involved with the planning aspect of service will help to increase their interest – and sense of responsibility – for what you are doing, and hopefully help them develop a heart for service well into the future.
During this year of Eucharistic Revival, we each have a special opportunity to bring the light of Christ to others, both within our parishes and in our greater communities. Through service, we are honoring the great gift we receive in Holy Communion in a way that expresses His beautiful teaching to us: “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you” (John 15:12).
Jessica Donahue serves as director of religious education in St. Joan of Arc Parish, Marlton.