I still sometimes ask myself, why have my wife and I been in a Christian community for over ten years? And why do we continue to frequent the Oratory as part of the MSSP lay community?
We were not particularly religious, nor from very religious backgrounds. Mainly, Sunday Mass and Easter seven church visit Christians. I actually had a sort of aversion to Christian communities. After all, all I needed was to love God, and who needs intermediaries to love God?!
There were, however, some cracks in my armour: God was far too abstract for me to truly love. I knew that the Scriptures contained the living Word of God. But I hardly knew what the Scriptures say! In fact, I virtually dismissed the Old Testament as a bunch of fairy tale myths and misguided outdated notions. And anyway, I was far too busy with important family, work, friends, and leisure to remind myself that we owe all that we are and all that we have to God.
But, one day, 16 years ago, the bubble burst. Our, then 16-year old, youngest child was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Sadly, four years and several interventions later, he was gone
But what we found there was a new horizon: A Eucharistic Service and Homily with meaning; a warm welcome by a caring community of fun-living ‘normal’ people, and not the fanatics we feared; and finally a rich calendar of activities which help us to truly live a Christian life rather than just pay lip service to doing so.
But during this time we witnessed our son draw ever closer to God. And this seemed to happen in the context of immense love from God-loving friends and family. This was probably our first inkling that we are ourselves the living Body of Christ, and that we can only love God by loving one another.
Father Martin Cilia, the spiritual director at the MSSP Oratory, came into our lives literally in the last days of our son’s life. His genuine caring help and concern drew us to the MSSP lay community, probably more out of polite gratitude than spiritual conviction.
But what we found there was a new horizon: A Eucharistic Service and Homily with meaning; a warm welcome by a caring community of fun-living ‘normal’ people, and not the fanatics we feared; and finally a rich calendar of activities (Seminars, Catecheses, Lectio Divina, etc) which help us to truly live a Christian life rather than just pay lip service to doing so.
We have started to really understand the Scriptures as the living Word of God, how the New Testament is the fulfilment of the Old, and how we should understand parts of the Old Testament, which seemed like outdated myth, or worse still, meaningless!
Our life has been significantly changed. We now realise that it is difficult to be part of the living Body of Christ unless you are living your life as part of a Christian community with shared values. But it does come at a price. You need to make space (time) for God in your life. We remain fun-living people who enjoy all the good things in life, but we have had to make some space for our Creator.
As an aside, in the past, I could not understand how an all-loving God could allow 16-year-olds to get brain tumours, but I now realize (helped also by CS Lewis’s ‘The Problem of Pain’) that sadly, in our busy lives, distracted by all God’s gifts, it is so easy for us to forget that same God, until we pass through real pain. By God’s grace, our son Matthew realized this and so did we. But time heals pain, and it is so easy to drift back to one’s old ways. The MSSP lay community helps this not to happen. And in our case, that is why, 12 years later, we still frequent the MSSP Oratory.