A wise priest once asked me what I thought the most important aspect of religious life was. I kind of shrugged my shoulders and said, “Faith, I guess.” He gave me a smile that seemed to say, “Really?” Then he said, “It’s showing up.”
In my time in formation in Holy Cross, the most common form of ministry that I have engaged in is a ministry of presence – a simple “being there” for or with someone. There are no answers that I can find, no help I can offer; all I can do is be there and care. And, in almost every situation, that is all anyone wants. People quickly learn that I am not a doctor who can save their life or a millionaire who can help them get out of debt. But like St. Peter, “What I do have, I give.” And what I do have is the ability to simply be there – to take time to show a person that I care about them and offer them what I can.
This sentiment does not only apply to ministry, but it is also a fundamental part of religious life. Simply being there and caring goes a long way. As a community striving to be a family, spending time together and sharing experiences is one of the most important things we can do.
Think of the people you know best in the world: a brother, sister, parent, a friend. Now think of how you got to know them, how you came to care about them and they about you. It is my guess that you grew close over a number of shared experiences – not necessarily good or bad, just time that you spent together. You grew comfortable with one another and began to share your life with them.
This is exactly what our common life in Holy Cross tries to foster. We aren’t necessarily going to do awesome things every time we hang out, but the important thing is that we do it together. Being intentional about being together is the best way to foster community and brotherhood. This includes showing up to meals and social events even when we are exhausted or are not in the mood, and pushing ourselves beyond our perceived limits for the sake of the community. Showing up means that you care enough to put a priority on someone else, and that you want to share in their life and them to share in yours.
We have no greater model of this than Christ. Christ wanted to share so much in our life that he became fully human. He came to share completely in our life and invites us to do the same with him. The relationship Christ has with each one of us is what He calls us to have with one another. He came to us and cared. He showed up (in every possible definition of the word). May we have the courage and strength to do the same.
Mr. Tim Mouton, C.S.C. is in his second year of temporary vows as a seminarian at Moreau Seminary. He and other seminarians at Moreau post twice each month for the Spes Unica Blog, sharing on their life and formation at Moreau. Meet our other men in formation, and learn more about seminary life in Holy Cross, and specifically about the Postulant Program at Moreau Seminary, which constitutes the first year of religious and priestly formation in Holy Cross for college graduates.