Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.Proverbs 27:17
When I was in college, I learned from the Newman Center and our FOCUS missionaries the importance of community. Looking back on my time at Slippery Rock, I always had something to do at the Newman Center, and someone who I loved was always there. We had Mass on Sunday and Wednesday evenings, and because so many friends were always there, no one ever went to Mass alone or sat by themselves. the Newman Center is where we had our Wednesday night meetings, Bible Studies, and the oh-so-important meal of coffee and doughnuts after Mass.
Aside from these faith-based things, we were still always together. We did homework together in the lounge and the St. Anthony room. We would get dinner together, go to Starbucks, and have game nights and movie nights. Whether we prayed, studied, ate, talked, or laughed together, everything that my community did led me closer to our Heavenly Father, whether we knew it or not.
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Could I have stayed Catholic throughout college without this community? Probably. Would my faith have flourished if I was always by myself? Absolutely not. We learn from God in Genesis that man shouldn’t be alone. While we can pray, live, and work by ourselves, that doesn’t mean we should. After Jesus ascended into Heaven, the disciples were always together to pray and share meals. If we never surround ourselves with community, we’ll fall into despair. We’re meant to abide with each other, and we see that in our families and our friend groups. We’re designed to depend on each other and “do life” together, meaning we spend time together, eat together, live together, and share the highs and lows of our life.
Read more in My Second Home, the Newman Center!
I heard the “iron sharpens iron” proverb a lot throughout my time in Rock Catholic, especially when we went to Catholic conferences like SEEK 2019 and SLS 2020. It reminds us that we have to support each other because we make each other strong. Holy people become holier when they stay together. The friendships that we forge in community give us ways to help each other grow in our faith and fall more in love with God. Receiving the Sacraments, praying, going to Bible Studies, and even just getting coffee together sharpens us. We strengthen each other’s faith so that we become holier when we’re with each other than when we’re alone.
You’ve probably heard the “hot coals” analogy that has a similar meaning. Coals stay hot and burn brighter when they’re close together. If you take a coal and put it by itself, it quickly cools down. The coal that’s separated no longer has coals to surround it and keep it hot, so it loses its heat and glow. The coals are us and their heat is our faith. We stay on fire for the Lord when we have a thriving faith community. When we surround ourselves with friends who are strong in their faith, we’ll find ourselves becoming like them. We’ll find our prayer life improving, we’ll receive the Sacraments more often, we’ll grow in virtue, and not to mention, we’ll become closer with our friends. If we go off on our own, we’ll find our faith dwindling because when we’re alone, we don’t have anyone to keep us company and hold us accountable.
The constant, intentional togetherness of community draws closer to God. If you’re desiring holiness and striving for Sainthood (which we all should), rely on your core group of friends who are rooted in their faith. It’s so important for your community to spend time in prayer and fellowship often and to call each other to holiness. They’ll be your brothers and sisters in Christ and your accountability buddies who’ll remind you to pray, go to Mass, and keep growing in virtue. There are so many times when my Newman Center friends have been like Christ to me, inviting me to go to Mass, pray a rosary, or get dinner with them. We’ve been together through our faith highs and lows, always managing to remind us of our identity in Jesus Christ.
When I was a freshman, my faith wasn’t nearly as strong as the other girls I met in the Newman Center. Because of this, I felt intimidated and discouraged, because I spent so much time with them anyway, my faith has grown immensely. We all need a faith community to join us on our faith journey and to help us keep up with it. By staying close to our hot coals, we’ll reach holiness and find ourselves on our way to Heaven together.
My next blog post will share ways to create intentional community. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss it!
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