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Heavenly Food to the Faithful


Editor’s note: DC Service Corps volunteer PJ Herrera reflects on life with his fellow community members at Casa San Salvador.

“He is The Bread sown in the virgin, leavened in the Flesh, molded in His Passion, baked in the furnace of the Sepulchre, placed in the Churches, and set upon the Altars, which daily supplies Heavenly Food to the faithful.”- St. Peter Chrysologus

There are many gifts that come from living in community at Casa San Salvador. Geographically, we are placed half a block from daily Mass and reconciliation at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land, a 10-minute walk from St. Anthony’s parish, and 20 minutes from the Basilica. We have the opportunity to celebrate the Eucharist every day at seemingly any hour! Praise be to God, we do go to daily Mass together.

Each day, we stumble out of our beds and into the monastery just in time, though often a minute late, to pray with our sisters and brothers in faith. Our little community of Franciscan-hearted people joins the entirety of the Church in her prayer to our heavenly Father. I t think that there is no better way to build a community than to devote it to our Savior as a work of the Holy Spirit.

Another blessing is our community dinners. Five nights a week, we intentionally share a meal with each other, which is one of the most human actions anyone can do. We set aside time to pray, break bread, and disclose what happened during our days. Most topics seem to be fair game.

We share the Mount Tabor moments, when we have been witness to God’s glory in our common lives. We debate the principles of justice and mercy. We laugh with each other and celebrate the beautiful differences and talents that make the Casa so vibrant. We also recite entire episodes of SpongeBob from memory. And there is just so much singing, seemingly endless singing. Then, once we’ve all had our fill of whatever delicious food was made for us by the community member assigned to cook that day, we move to the chapel for evening prayer from the liturgy of the hours.

Our days seem to be bookended by prayer and food. They start with the Eucharistic feast, celebrated in union with the rest of the Body of Christ. It is a time when heaven and Earth meet again, in our midst. They end with a relatively humble meal and a prayer said throughout the world every day. This prayer yokes us to our Church family and, more importantly, to Jesus.

We have only lived with each other for a few weeks and we are sure to have our ups and downs, but I am encouraged by the love of God displayed through our love for one another. I am constantly being called into deeper union with Him through the witness of my Casa members. I will continue to pray for us and I hope you do, too!

Reflection question: How are you nourished by others’ presence in your life?

PJ is serving at So Others Might Eat (S.O.M.E.) during his year with DC Service Corps. While in the nation’s capital, he aims to build his professional experience to supplement his Master of Public Health degree from Boston University. PJ also wants to deepen his relationship with Jesus Christ through shared life with his Casa San Salvador community members. Finally, he hopes to continue his vocation discernment during this year of servant leadership formation. Please pray for PJ!