By Sister Regina Siegfried, ASC

The lovely, ornate altar at my parish, St. Vincent De Paul church in St. Louis, is decked with groceries.

20161205_093415_burst01They are offerings for the parish’s Christmas program that provides food and gifts for 360 seniors and 320 families who have registered to participate.

From mid-November to mid-December, parishioners contribute cooking oil, canned tuna and meats, laundry detergent, peanut butter and jelly, spaghetti sauce, cereal and baking goods for each Sunday’s offertory procession. The food is later arranged on the altar to remind us the following week that people in our city need our loving concern and care.

One bottle of cooking oil, a single jar of peanut butter, and an individual bag of flour join the contributions and get lost in the arrangement.

The important thing is that someone in the pews carried that item and linked with other parishioners to become part of a community who reached out to others.

Individual items unite with other pantry products so that a family in need is cared for. Those items also represent the people who dipped into their own finances to assist someone they probably don’t know and never will meet.

In our giving, we join a community whose heart and generosity are reflected back to us on the altar. Each of us can become part of something bigger than our individual selves. We need only to join the offertory processions of people willing to reach out wherever need touches our hearts.

Who is your community and what gifts symbolize its unity?