There is an interesting discussion in the comments of this thread regarding “intentional communities.” These groups, which attempt to forge a community which is unified in a common purpose, have been developing throughout American Christianity lately, and its Catholic forms include such movements as Opus Dei.
I argue that although such ecclesial movements can be very worthwhile, they should not replace the parish, which is the true “intentional community” for the Catholic. I wrote,
[The parish] is where we come into regular contact with our neighbors and unite with them through the Eucharist. It is the part of the divinely-instituted structure of the Church – not just a man-made response to existing deficiencies.
I went on to blame the changes in American/Western culture for the disappearance of the parish as such a community in modern life.
Reader Clare then made some interesting practical points in this regard:
If the parish of the 50s, though not perfect, is a good model for what we are aiming for, what in my own life keeps me from living that? Just a little example that comes to mind – my grandparents would never have put sports above the day of rest that had its focus in parish life, but today parish events are poorly attended in part because of the idol of kids’ sports. Am I willing to say no to my child’s participation on the travel soccer team or whatever if it will disrupt our parish life?
Will I live in a smaller home nearer my job if doing so leaves me freer to participate in parish life?
Will I put up with the person who annoys me on the adoration committee and use the opportunity to grow in holiness?
These are tough questions for us. What are we willing to do to create a true community in our parishes?