If you look up the word universal, you might get a definition like this: Of, affecting, or done by all people or things in the world or in a particular group. You will also see that one of the synonyms for universal is catholic. That is what I am talking about. I belong to the universal or Catholic Church, and my family includes over a billion people at any given time.
My exposure to my "family" was for a long time limited to the people I knew in my parish, relatives and maybe a few I might encounter along the way. On a few occasions I would be made aware of our universality: attending Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York, a retreat at Christian Brothers with our youth, watching the coverage of John Paul II's visit to the U.S.
About 2 years ago, I discovered a new way to connect with my family: Catholic media. I started listening to the Catholic Channel on XM. I connected with people on Facebook and Twitter though one of the shows on the channel. I joined Facebook prayer groups. All of a sudden, I have a network of people outside of my local parish to share my faith with and it is awesome. They keep me accountable, they make me laugh, and they share my triumphs and sorrows.
We all come from different places, we are different ages, we have different vocations, and we may even speak different languages, but we have one thing in common: we all belong to that universal church and share Jesus at every Mass.