Learn, Lead, and Serve in the Spirit of Mary's Magnificat

Mission Reflection

We Belong to Each Other
by Katie Higgins '99, Vice President of Mission

This week marks the beginning of a school year unlike any other in Magnificat’s history. As students return to school, I wonder what they will remember from these unusual days. There is much that is new and different, and likely memorable, about this year: wearing masks, learning in socially distanced classrooms and online spaces, cleaning surfaces with personal spray bottles of disinfectant, the checking of temperatures and clicking of boxes on health assessments, eating lunch behind plastic barriers. Over and above these things—or perhaps in the midst of them—I hope that our students will also remember the notion that we belong to each other.    

Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said, “Today, if we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other—that man, that woman, that child is my brother or my sister.” Scripture and Catholic Social Teaching affirm our belonging to one another -- our interconnectedness as a human family and our responsibility to that family. As St. Paul writes, “As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ” (1 Cor 12:12). Because we are interconnected, individual experiences of both suffering and joy impact the whole (1 Cor 12: 26). As human beings created by God in relationship and called to relationship, the Catholic Social Teaching principle of solidarity asserts that we are responsible for one another; that we are called to care for and love one another as God has and continues to love and care for us. As Saint John Paul II notes, “It [solidarity] is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say, to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all.” (1)

Such solidarity is demanding. It is more than a passing thought of concern for another. It requires attentiveness to the needs of others as named by them. It involves a feeling with others in experiences of suffering and joy and everything in between. It necessitates a willingness to sacrifice personally and communally for the common good. It translates into loving action, humbly recognizing that everything we do ripples out to the whole because we do belong to each other.

The newest members of the Magnificat community, the Class of 2024, reflected on the notion of belonging to one another in their orientation this August. They put this notion into their own words in affirming messages written for each other, such as: 

“I’m here for you and will treat you with kindness.”
“Never ever give up.”
“We aren’t as different as we may seem.”
“Speak up for each other.”
“You aren’t alone.”
“Encourage each other. Don’t bring people down.”
“Give time to others and always include.”
“Stand up for each other and pray together.”
“Be strong! Pick others up! Be confident!” 
“Believe in God.” 
“Be there for each other.”
“We are all in this together.”

Their messages speak to this deep truth of our faith that we are learning and relearning in these uncertain times. We are not islands unto ourselves; we are tied together as God’s people. And because we are tied together, we are called to overcome our temptations toward the narrowness of indifference, individualism, and self-centeredness. We are called to widen the field of our vision, to widen the circle of our compassion (2), to widen our sense of who we are as individuals and as a community and who we are called to be. 

And so with masks donned, spray bottles in hand, and standing arms’ length apart, we begin the year trusting that God walks with us in all that we are learning and doing. Grounded in our belief that we belong to each other, may these uncertain times transform our praying, thinking, speaking, being, and acting in ways that reflect this truth of our identity and our calling.

1) On Social Concern [Sollicitudo rei Socialis], no. 38.
2) Fr. Greg Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart, pg. 212.

Past Reflections