In the Emmanuel Community we thrive on the grace of sharing and praising together weekly during what we call our “household” time. The name household is derived from the meetings early Christians used to have in one another’s homes or “household”. This time of praise and sharing, of what the Lord has done in our lives throughout the past week, is what our fraternal lives are hinged upon.
The gift of praise is something that has been present since the inception of the Emmanuel Community in the early 1970’s. It was a gift received during an outpouring of the Holy Spirit by it’s founding members Pierre Goursat and Martine Lafitte-Catta. “Praise is prayer through which we marvel at the wonders of God and in which we sing out our joy. It is one of the most wonderful expressions of love from creatures to their Creator.” Or as St. Augustine of Hippo said: “He who sings, prays twice.” And this is truly what our time of praise in the community is all about: a time of deep prayer; praising Him who is worthy of all of our praise and thanksgiving. It is a gift because in fact, sometimes it is not so easy to praise and so it is then that we realize the Holy Spirit gives us this gift. Which brings me to the gift of praise when one is completely alone.
My husband and I are both a part of the Emmanuel Community. We both met the community at different times and came to fall in love with the calling of living out holiness in our every day. Holiness is certainly not an easy task, but definitely one worth striving for. We were both very much attracted by the joy of it’s members and by their fervent desire to live out the calling to adore the Lord, live out His compassion and evangelize all through our actions and our lives. What better way to strive for holiness?
Somehow our stints in areas where the community was present were always too short. However, now we have finally come to realize that even though those times were short, they were rich in fraternal love and strengthening of faith. Now, residing in Southeast Michigan, we find ourselves completely alone, community wise. Often we question our calling and our ability to live out the graces of the Emmanuel community together when our nearest brother or sister is hundreds of miles away.
We are not, by any means, the first to experience this sort of community isolation, nor will we be the last. It is perhaps exactly because of this that we felt called to share this short testimony of how we live out the call to praise all on our own.
As praise is something to be shared and lived during household on a weekly basis and we, up to now have not been able to have this privilege, we have come to the decision that we must live these graces as a “family community”. And so it goes that each morning we wake up and gather together before our little altar and praise the Lord. Sometimes we are a bit tired, sometimes we are running late and sometimes it’s just me and our ten month old son but nonetheless we strive to stick to our commitment as best we can.
We try to be faithful to this commitment although sometimes we do fail. Yet, the immense joy that praise brings when we do live it out in our daily lives is well worth the extra 10-15 minutes of our time. Our heart indeed is lifted up in song. Our minds are automatically focused on the words we sing out. The words, many times taken from Holy Scripture– God’s living Word, gives us the grace to enter into a state of thanksgiving. Even during times when perhaps praise is the last thing we desire for what ever problem or difficulty we are going through, we find that the Holy Spirit manages to lift our spirits and remind us of God’s love and mercy.
Whatever your situation may be: whether the next brother or sister is miles away; or you do not have a periodic household meeting; lift up your hearts and minds in the gift of praise each morning and allow the Holy Spirit to fill you with joy, thanksgiving and the light of Christ. Surely you will notice the difference in your day and the best part is: others around you will begin to notice as well.
The blessings of praise are countless. Some of them are obvious from the first moment you begin to sing and others come with time. Ask the Lord for the gift of praise whether you are alone or a family of two, three or twelve. Praise Him always and you will see the fruits in your lives and in your faith.
“Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thes. 5 :16-18)
To read more about Emmanuel praise please visit Emmanuel Praise.
Written by Alejandra. Alejandra is a member of the Emmanuel community along with her husband David. They recently relocated to Southeast Michigan from Italy. They both met the community in Italy where they lived most of their community experiences. They have a 10 month old son, Maximiliano.