Walking Our Faith: The unexpected benefits of chocolate-covered doughnuts | SummitDaily.com

Walking Our Faith: The unexpected benefits of chocolate-covered doughnuts

I’ve begun attending 8 a.m. Mass at St. Mary’s on Sunday mornings. If you’d told me a year ago that I’d be doing this, I would have laughed because I’ve never been a morning person.

On a recent phone call, I told Mom I began going to the 8 a.m. Mass because Ken brought doughnuts from Daylight Donuts along with freshly made coffee.

I’ll do just about anything for a chocolate covered doughnut or two.

Attending 8 a.m. Sunday Mass is a natural outgrowth of attending 8 a.m. Mass on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, which is again something that I never thought I would find myself doing. Again: Not a morning person.

But I’ve discovered that if there’s a good reason, I’ll get up. In this case, my good reason is I really enjoy Mass, even four early mornings a week.

Perhaps more surprising for an introvert like myself is that I came for the chocolate-covered doughnuts but stayed for the community. There’s always a small group that hangs around after Mass. Fellowship is the term Mom would use.

After a year of attending church services online, speaking in person with friends I’ve only seen through a computer screen feels like a breath of fresh air. That got me thinking about the importance of community and wondering how our online worship services might evolve as we move back to in-person services.

For the past year, I’ve attended a daily evening prayer group at 5 o’clock via Zoom. This Friday, for the first time, we will meet in person for evening prayer and adoration at Our Lady of Peace in Silverthorne, followed by a social hour.

We’re hoping to continue this in-person gathering monthly and will continue to meet online the rest of the week because our group includes people from as far away as Kremmling and Blue River as well as parishioners who have moved to other parts of the country over the past year.

The other morning, I was talking to my friend Pat and said I would be perfectly happy if I had to leave the house only to go to Mass, work and the grocery store. I am happy as a clam when I am close to home with my dogs, my knitting and my books. But that’s not very healthy. Loneliness is an insidious weed that can choke the joy out of our lives, especially for those of us who live alone, struggle with depression or are mourning the loss of a loved one — all of which can leave us feeling isolated, even when we attend religious services online.

Last Tuesday, I dropped in on my friend Larry’s online Bible study and encountered friends I hadn’t seen in a year, friends who are currently living in Texas, Ohio and Florida. Zoom allows Summit’s seasonal residents to become year-round participants in our spiritual communities.

Perhaps we will create a hybrid approach of meeting online and in person, especially for weekday services. This will make it easier to combine the fellowship of in-person services with the convenience of online services for parishioners who are far-flung, homebound or have work commitments.

I have discovered, thanks to chocolate-covered doughnuts after Sunday morning Mass, that I need my spiritual community. Loving God and growing in my relationship with God is something I mostly work on in solitude. Now I understand that the fellowship of other people is as important to my spiritual journey as my private prayers and time alone with God.

Seeing Maggie and Barb, both in their 80s, laughing together on a bench last Sunday after Mass while enjoying the sun and each other’s company, getting book recommendations from Father Stephen, laughing with my friend Larry about my questionable singing voice for the Psalms — these are the spontaneous moments which bind us together as a spiritual community and help us to remember one another with greater insight when we pray.

The Bible says that when two or more are gathered together, God is with us. I believe this applies not only when we are in formal worship and prayer but also when we share our informal moments of fellowship. These create the memories that remind us we are not alone; we are part of the larger body of Christ.

I’d love to hear how your faith community is approaching the question of online and in-person worship. Please write me at the email address below.

From the Gospels

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” — Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

I’m reading through the Gospels this year. This week, I’m reading the Gospel of St. Mark chapters 1-2. Won’t you join me?

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