This is a portion of the essay submitted to join the Magis Society by one of this year’s winners of the Dorothy Day Award.
As a cradle Catholic, important practices of my faith include Communion, Mass, and prayer. Of course, there are many other important tenets, but I feel these three encompass the other ones. In these three cases, during my time at Xavier, I have relearned what they are. I think the first of these I relearned while at XU was prayer. Prayer, typically in my mind, meant something structured and kind of sterile. Though I would make prayers up as felt I needed something, rarely was it a conversation with God, and though I can argue that my journal entries are prayers, I could not say that then. Prayer, much like Communion and Mass, was closely tied to the hierarchical Church. There was nothing wrong with this relationship, except I felt empty, and desired a more substantial relationship with God. Through spiritual direction, Ignatian Spirituality, Konania/CLC, Theology classes, and retreats, I have been able to expand my definition and understanding of prayer. I still struggle with prayer, especially traditionally structured prayer, and when I asked how my prayer life is, I will probably say non-existent. Yet, I challenge even myself when I say this statement because, I cannot say that prayer has become as easy as breathing, throughout my time at Xavier, it has become deeply integrated into who I am and what I do. My prayers nowadays are action-oriented. If I may borrow from Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, I pray with my feet. In other words, I pray through my relationships and conversations, through my body playing basketball, through my writing—whether it is writing a paper, a talk, or a journal entry. Since my broadening of prayer, my idea of and relationship with God has also continued to broaden.
My idea of Communion has greatly changed since coming to Xavier. Though I cannot fully admit that it was things at Xavier that changed it, I think certain activities helped provide a language I did not have before. I, somewhat reluctantly, admit that when I came to Xavier, I was uptight about who took Communion, really seeing only reserved for Catholics, and only confined to the church. Over the years, though my idea of Communion, like my idea of prayer, has broadened thanks to different service/justice activities, Community Nights, and faith exploration and challenging. The sacrament is beautifully symbolic, that one must break oneself in order to give of oneself, and that we are called to go and do likewise. It was like I was sent on a special mission. However, Alternative Breaks, Urban Plunges, SSI, and other justice activities challenged me to take that “faith” activity and expand. I have been challenged to be in Communion with all of humanity. I have been challenged to not just give of myself, but to receive from others as well. I have been challenged to understand that everyone is invited to the table and that a sharing of a dinner is just as beautiful as the act of Communion during a liturgy. The sacrament is not confined to a physical church building; it goes way beyond that, where any table can be turned into an altar, and any meal can be made holy. Communion is no longer an act that I participate in. It is also a verb, an action I perform, hopefully, on a daily basis.
Since prayer and Communion compose a Mass, my idea of Mass has changed over the years in relation to the other two practices. There is not much to say about the transformation of Mass that has not already been told about Communion. I have come to recognize the importance of Mass, not so much as a weekly obligation to receive Communion, but as a way to be connected to a larger community. Prayer can be very private, but Mass is not—it cannot be. Mass reminds that I am not alone in this journey of faith, exploration, and discovery. Though the others may be on different paths, we are all walking towards the same end—to better live in communion with God.
Grace Badik is graduating senior who has spent the last three years working wonders as a student worker in the CFJ. She will be leaving us for Portland, spending a year of service with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (NW). Her presence will be missed, especially on Monday nights when we gather around a vegetarian meal in the Clock Tower without her.