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Community 101: Prayer


For the next four weeks, we will feature a four part series on faith in community every Franciscan Friday: “Community 101: An Introduction to Intentional Living”! It will feature weekly contributors highlighting specific features of intentional-living in faith communities: Prayer, Listening, Sharing, and Learning to Love.

Today’s post about prayer is by Paola Piscitelli, President of the Sant’Egidio Community in the USA. Franciscan Mission Service staff and associates have enjoyed connecting with the Sant’Egidio Community in D.C

I have been part of the Community of Sant’Egidio since my high school years. The experiences of service to the poor and communal prayer that we all practice allowed me to discover a real Jesus who is close to my life and speaking about the people I have been encountering every day.

Whether before going to school, tutoring children after school in the impoverished areas of the city, or in the daily evening vespers, gathering together in prayer has been the faithful company of my life. Coming together in front of the icon of Jesus, listening to His Word together with the friends, brothers, and sisters of the community has given a different perspective to my doing and to our being together.

It was not the strong and the powerful “I” who was able to serve and act. Rather, I was able to serve and act by acknowledging myself as a humble person entrusting all to God’s hands in front of the many questions and issues in the world. I was able to serve and act by being grateful for the very possibility of being at service and for having brothers and sisters with whom I could serve, precious gifts the Lord has given to me.

The original meeting place for the Sant’Egidio Community: Church of Sant’Egidio (St. Giles) in Trastevere, Rome, Italy

Our prayer service is very simple. It is centered around the Word of God listened and preached, as well as singing the psalms and hymns. Together, it brings us to another dimension. It is a pause from the rush of daily life and the hectic intertwining of emotions and encounters in the city. Our prayer service reminds me of the other dimension of life, an inner, hidden, and often forgotten one without which we would be very little. How many distractions, how many tensions would be the last word in my days if not for the words in prayer that speak to me every day.

In this sense, prayer is not only the moment in which we bring everything back to the origin. It is also the moment and source of all actions where we learn how to be human and to love others. In front of Jesus’ face, we feel his mercy for our lives and for the world. We learn from him to think of the demands of our world and the sufferings of the needy. Prayer and life become connected in a simple and concrete way, a possible path that has kept the Community and me together.

Paola Piscitelli is the President of the Community of Sant’Egidio in the US. She resides in New York City with her husband, Andrea, and her two children, Pietro and Anna. To contact her: santegidiousa@gmail.com

We prepare and support lay Catholics for two-year international, one-year domestic and 1-2 week short-term mission service opportunities in solidarity with impoverished and marginalized communities across the globe.

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