By Theresa Nguyen
“They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.” This verse, Acts 2:42, is where we drew inspiration from when we began the monthly ministry at Newman with the same name. Throughout Lent 2019, we had the desire to offer you something more — something that would bring us together as a community of faith and deepen our individual faith lives. Our aim was to bring this verse to life: we had dinner together, we had a talk on a topic of faith, we had praise and worship, and we had Eucharistic Adoration and Reconciliation. This one verse encapsulated what we desired our community to reflect and what we hoped to achieve through this monthly night of praise and worship.
Our community looks very different now than it did a year ago, and not because of any ministry we had here at Newman. Our community now is an empty church, a multitude of videos, and innumerable prayers. At first glance, it seems like we are far from the reality that the apostles lived in. Instead of enjoying communal life, we are in quarantine, isolated from our family, our friends, and our faith community. But we are, in some ways, walking with the apostles as they began to form what community and the Church looked like for them in their time.
“Awe came upon everyone, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.” There is no doubt that this is a challenging time. In the midst of this, God remains present in our everyday lives. A new sense of wonder comes from the things we did not think were possible before. Technology allows for my Bible study to continue to meet, for Mass — anywhere from Newman to the Vatican — to be brought into my home, for the glorious choir of alumni, residents, and students to sing Gloria together on Easter Sunday. I am in awe of the continued generosity of our parishioners: of the commitment you keep to staying connected and ministering to others, such as serving through Loaves and Fishes and the Food Bank, albeit in new ways.
“All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need.” Now more than ever we are united in a common sacrifice. We have set aside our usual way of life to support those who are at risk of the virus, healthcare workers, and all essential employees.
“Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes.” Our homes have once again become our primary sacred space. The obligation to attend Sunday Masses has been lifted, but the devotion of our parishioners remains the same: to come together — though virtually — to praise God. Almost 300 families are live with us on Sundays, and that number does not include those who are livestreaming other Masses, those who watch our Masses later in the day, and those who are making time for private prayer in place of Mass.
When we meet the apostles in the beginning of the Gospel, they are locked in a house and living in fear. Jesus, resurrected, comes to them and offers them peace and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus comes to us, in our homes, today to offer us that same peace, mercy, and love.
The apostles didn’t have a handbook to tell them how to live out their mission of sharing the glory of God. It was new for them just as this reality is new for us. They relied on the strength of their faith, on their community, and on his Holy Spirit. We, too, can rely on those same gifts that Jesus has given us as we continue sharing the glory of God in our lives today.