Christ Is Everything for the Human Heart
Friends share the reason for their fidelity and affection for the tradition of "HR Monday"
Almost 10 years ago, my friend Laura, had the desire to start an "oratorio", as St. Philip Neri did in Italy. That was the beginning of what we call “HR Monday”. HR stands for Holy Redeemer, the parish where several families in our community belong.
The idea was to have a potluck dinner every Monday evening during the summer, inviting everyone in the community and the parish. I noticed over the years how this moment together has become “owned”, not just by me but also by others. Once, the middle school aged son of friends, passionate for life and at that time for ice cream, spent the week making ice cream to bring to HR Monday. We have had friends from Uganda that were in town for a meeting with AVSI share those hours with us, or high schoolers telling us about their experiences in Jamaica. The evenings always finish with a rosary where we bring our intentions and the intentions of our friends to Him, who keeps us together.
As Fr. Lepori said in the Exercises: "Nothing more precious and dear can unite people, and nothing should make us more responsible for our unity in the face of the entire world. The reason for the unity of the disciples is the experience that Christ is everything for every human heart, that Christ is the life of the life of every person... 'Christ, the resurrection and life is present and is calling you.’”
Maria Chiara, Kensington, MD
During the summer, HR Monday is a standing appointment for me, and, as I saw the same people every week, I gather it is the same for more than a few others. But why do I go? For many of those now somewhat familiar faces – some of whom I can actually name! – the appointment is quite long standing, stretching back years and upheld by deep friendships. I do not have quite that history. I arrived in D.C. as a grad student only two years ago. Yet, what I have found, in large part due to CL, is a community I could not have anticipated. To find community in our current world is hard enough, but somehow, I managed to stumble into people who are truly human and mercifully sane – which is to say, really Catholic. God is very generous.
When it comes to HR Monday in particular, I could reduce it merely to something agreeable to do on summer Monday night when not much else is happening. But that would not be really true. For me, the beauty in no small part lies in the feeling, somewhat subtle yet immersive, of having come into a community of ongoing, long standing love. People’s idiosyncrasies are known and smiled at, there is a built up mutual knowledge and fondness, the conversation is continually growing, and I am always catching up even as I’m welcomed. It is beautiful; and a background that makes the inevitable awkward encounters and silences that await a newcomer much more bearable. Quite simply, the communion is already there, gracious and solid, and I am always invited into this stream of grace. For this and for the community that makes it possible, I am truly thankful. And I should probably be more thankful still.
Rob, Brookland, DC
I have been going to HR Monday for years now. When our kids were small, it was a perfect opportunity for them to have a mega soccer match with their friends, while I got to catch up with mine! We eat together, adults catch up while the kids play, then we pray the rosary together. More often than not, our little ones would not eat enough at the dinner, and we would have to stop at 7-11 on the way home for sustenance, a tradition we still do to this day!
So, what keeps me going week after week? Every Monday, I am there setting up tables with Maria Chiara, Lauren, and Wanda, marveling at how the table goes from one or two dishes to a spread of twenty or more, and staying until the end, making sure everything has been picked up and put away. Is it the delight in seeing my girlfriends? Is it admiring all the new babies and adorable older siblings of the young families or “arguing” with Maria Chiara over who is going to wash the dirty tablecloths at the end of the evening? Is it sneaking a piece of Lorenzo’s delicious pizza, before we even say grace? Is it having Fr. Roberto roll his eyes as we drag everything inside due to the rain, even though I kept saying beforehand that it would no’t rain. Perhaps it is really laughing at the beautiful song that Laura wrote as a farewell to Joe and MaryAnn, to the tune of Frozen’s “Let It Go”? Or maybe it is getting a big hug and a “how are you doing?” from Kevin or sitting with Maria Ida every week as we prayed the rosary?
Yes, it is all of these things and so much more. It is so many lives lived with such joy!!!
As Fr. Rich Veras so aptly wrote:
The things that I see, got me laughing like a baby,
The things that I see, got me crying like a man,
The things that I see, I can look at what He gave me,
And He’s going to show me even more than I see.
What other way could you possibly want to spend a muggy Monday summer evening!
Grainne, Silver Spring, MD