A few weeks ago, a smaller than anticipated contingent of the Northern CA Community gathered on Saturday of our Community Day. All were looking forward to getting together but on the evening before and into the morning, emails started coming in about brothers and sisters being taken ill, unexpectedly having to pull an all-nighter for work etc. Spiritual battle was hitting us full force! Aware that this is one of the devil’s tactics, we did not cancel but went ahead with our gathering as planned… even if it meant starting the praise with only 4 people (one being our own 13 year-old Emmanuel, whose presence was most definitely appreciated)… During that intimate praise, I felt a great sense of fraternity and love for my sister, Bridget, and my brother, Ryan, who had each driven over 1h to come spend the day with us, having faced their own spiritual battles to get here. I also felt the presence of Our Heavenly Father, His joy at our faithfulness and a sense that we were His beloved children. A feeling that was promptly confirmed by the text we received:
Then the people of Israel shall turn back and seek the Lord, their God (…)
The number of the Israelites shall be like the sand of the sea (…)
They shall be called “Children of the Living God”.
On a side note: one sister, who couldn’t be there that day, had shared at the previous household 2 days before about the difference between calling ourselves “children of God” as opposed to “believers”, as we can stop believing (since it is something we do) but we will never stop belonging (since being God’s children it is something we are). We are His sons and daughters no matter what we do – even if the devil likes to makes us feel otherwise.
A few more brothers and sister had joined us towards the end of praise (yay!) and the day unfolded beautifully, in the joy of being together, a family in Christ, sharing in our common desire to grow closer for God and go deeper in our faith.
We had the great blessing of having mass said in our living room, thanks to the gift of self of Fr Joseph Diaw, a priest from Senegal now in the US as a student, whom I met Providentially and who is a great supporter of our little Emmanuel Community. While father Joseph was setting up for mass, in just a few minutes and with the help of our wonderful He is Alive! songbook, the liturgy was prepared by our brothers and sisters. Thanks to the songs and parts of the mass sung in different harmonies and the beautifully chanted psalm, the whole liturgy was elevated. Even though it was a humble mass, said in a living room for a small group, it was celebrated so beautifully, so reverently, so powerfully. I was reminded, one more time, of the gift of music that we have in the Community and the gift that it is for the Church.
We listened to the Marian teaching for that month, had a delicious lunch and lovely fraternal time, listened to another teaching by Paul and prayed the rosary together, all while enjoying the sun in the backyard. The hours went by an no one really wanted to leave. All in all a very good day!
It was a great reminder that God blesses us in our faithfulness and that all He wants is for us to give Him our poverty and He will “fills us with good things”. And that is it always a gift to be together as Emmanuel!