Friendship is journeying
The wise Ecclesiastes says, "If one should fall, the other helps him up; but what of the person with no one to help him up when he falls?" (4:10). In that sense no individual thrives in isolation. In life, different relationships exist. Modern language calls it networking. Networking is an important piece in the life of every person, even when it is not overtly expressed. There are family networks, social networks, academic networks, professional networks, etc. The spiritual network overrides every other. While other networking can be limited by time and space, spiritual networking transcends both space and interest because it connects individuals with the divine. In spiritual networking, all speak the language of God. Think about it.
Saint Paul writes to the Church in Ephesus, "But now in Christ Jesus, you that used to be far off have been brought close, by the blood of Christ" (Eph.2:13-14). The family apostolate builds such relationship, a spiritual network where parishioners, volunteers and priests speak same language. For instance, I come all the way from a 6,500 miles distance to meet individuals never known to me from Adam. The first language that bonds us together is the love of Christ Jesus. Then we begin a journey of spiritual friendship. Our social, family, economic, intellectual and professional differences are all harmonized and weaved into a spiritual tie. We collaborate with each other and help each other to grow.
The family apostolate takes this relationship up in order to build a volunteer group. Initially, volunteers in the Family Apostolate worship together with no strong connection individually. Perhaps, they met at liturgical celebrations without really knowing one another. Now, they are a bond. They are friends. They commit to one another. They talk on the phone as friends off of church activities. They support one another. They help to discover homes of the faithful in need of spiritual blessing and support. They meet to pray for families intentionally on first Saturday of the month and adore Christ in the Blessed Sacrament for same purpose. They assist the priest(s) to visit families, pray with them and enjoy social moments together.
Volunteers also network with families they visit during home blessing. The families in turn volunteer into other ministries of service in the church. The reason is because they have been affected positively by fellow members of the church whom they never met before home blessing visits. They join in providing services to others in the church. Some volunteer as ushers in the church, lectors and sacristans. Some encourage their kids to join altar servers in order to commit more to service.
How about the priest? In no small measures has Family Apostolate helped the pastoral functioning of priest in the parish. At the Catholic Church of Glen Burnie, for instance, our goal is to be able to identify pastoral needs of individual members of the church. We build a bridge between the ecclesial family and the biological family. Our ongoing objective is to be one church not only in name but in action. Family Apostolate helps in doing this. Visiting and blessing homes connect priest(s) with families. Families are usually excited that their priests remember them and bless them. They feel edified having the priest recognize where they live and associate with them. In terms of vocation, young children love to appreciate that the priest is not a ghost who stands on the altar with arms outstretched. They love to feel priests. They love to understand that he is human. They love to know that they could also be like him since he is a human being who plays, eats, drinks, and prays with them in their homes. They love to feel the holiness of the priest. That's the spiritual networking which Family Apostolate initiates and promotes.