Prayer and inspirational thoughts!

Deacon Mike

January 27 – Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Our second reading this week talks about the many parts of one body.  We are all part of the body and all have equal roles to play.  We all support the one body – the Church united as the bride of Christ to give glory, honor and praise to God our Father.  In our Gospel, Jesus announces that the“Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing,” as he has “been anointed by the Spirit to bring glad tidings to the poor.”  Jesus’s mission is the body to which we are all united through our baptism and confirmation, where we too are anointed by the Spirit.

As Vincentians, we are called to fulfill our mission, united to Christ Jesus in His, anointed by the Spirit, bringing glad tidings to the poor.  We are called to come in humility, connecting ourselves to the mission of Christ, and acting as one body, sharing the love and hope of Christ with all.  Through our witness and with great passion, we fulfill our call by giving glory to God through the care we give to those in need.  Do I offer myself in service, with great humility, that God may use me to fulfill His will?  Am I always aware of both my role and the roles of other Vincentians in building up the body of Christ?  Do those I serve recognize Christ through my service to them?

Father, grant me the passion of Pentecost, that I might embrace the love and care for the poor which Christ calls me to.  Unite me to His mission with a humility of service, acceptance and gladness in the work you bring me to.  Allow me to fulfill my role as a part of the whole body that I might help to build up the kingdom of God.  I  pray all of this in your Son’s name.  Amen

Deacon Mike

January 20 – Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Our second reading this week from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians tells us all about the Spirit?  He tells us, “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit….But one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as he wishes.”  All gifts that we have come from the Spirit.  They come in different forms according to our needs, but they all come from the same Spirit.  And we act with confidence that God will give us what we need when we need it, in the way we need it through the Spirit.

As Vincentians, we trust completely in the Lord to deliver to us that which we need, believing in God’s Divine Providence.  Today we receive the reassurance that indeed, the Spirit will provide us with the wisdom, the knowledge and the ability to help those who God brings to us for assistance.  We only need to listen for the voice of the Spirit speaking to our hearts and follow where God wishes us in humility and service.  Do I humbly accept God’s will for me?  Do I truly listen for the voice of the Spirit, and open myself to the gifts and graces bestowed on me?  Do I pray to know God’s will, or that God know mine?

Father, help me to hear your voice through the promptings of the Spirit.  Give me the humility to listen for your will in all things.  Allow me to see and use the gifts you give to me for service to others, that I might glorify your name and be a conduit of hope.  Allow me each day to allow your Spirit to be my guiding light.  I pray all of this in your Son’s name.  Amen

Deacon Mike

January 13 – Baptism of the Lord

Why was Jesus baptized?  He had no sin, no need for repentance which John the Baptist was offering.  Even John questioned Jesus being baptized by him.  It seemed backwards to him.  But it was necessary to reverse the sin of Adam and the course of history.  The Baptism of Jesus serves as the bridge between his entrance to the world (Epiphany) and his public ministry.  Jesus entered the waters of the Jordan and went into the depths of sin taking all the burdens and sins of mankind upon His back, and stepping into the place of all sinners.  “He emptied himself, took the form of a slave, and was born in the likeness of man.  He humbled himself, obedient even to the point of death…and God highly exalted Him.”  While he was without sin, he joined in humanity and attached the sins of all man to himself that he might then rise up from the water, sanctifying them into waters of life, offering to each of us the salvation which had been lost. And God said, “You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased!” We are to be baptized and drink from the waters, and then go out and give life to others, thereby becoming holy and saintly.

As Vincentians, we are called to connect ourselves to the needs, the sufferings and the pains of those whom God places before us.  We are called to join in total humility and obedience to God’s will and Divine Providence.  We are called to be life giving to others that they too may become sharers in the heavenly feast.  Do I come before the Lord in total humility and obedience?  Do I take on the pain and suffering of those whom I serve, joining myself to them and walking with them? 

Father, give me the grace to drink from the waters of baptism, that I may have the humility and courage to go out, serving those you call me to.  Help me to live in obedience always seeking your will.  With your help, allow me to be the person you created me to be as you marked me and claimed me at my baptism.  I pray all of this in your Son’s name.  Amen

Deacon Mike

January 6 – Epiphany of the Lord

What an astounding scene it must have been at the Epiphany.  Three wise-men see a star and trust totally in its direction to come in search of a baby boy to do him homage.  Mary and Joseph have endured hardships trusting completely in the guidance of an angel.  We know these events changed the course of history because we already have the rest of the story.  We know of Jesus’ ministry, his passion, death and resurrection.  But Mary, the apostles, the magi – none of them knew because the play book was still being written.  It was still 30 years before Jesus was to begin his ministry and revelation would begin to unveil the full mystery of the Incarnation.  All they had to go on was trust in the words of an angel and faith in the guidance of a star.  They all give us the ultimate example of having faith and putting our trust in God.  They all come to this historic point, full and trust and full of humility centered entirely on the notion of giving glory and paying homage to a little child who is their God.  Jesus teaches us to change ourselves to conform to God – and by changing ourselves, through our witness and example, we begin to open the door to change for others.  It is our job to bear witness to Christ through our lives.  God will take care of changing the hearts of those who see us. 

As Vincentians, do we approach our ministry and those we care for with the same heart, the same trust and the same humility with which the magi, Mary and Joseph came to the Epiphany?  For it is Christ himself who we minister to.  We are called to center ourselves fully and completely on His will.  He is our Lord and we give him glory and praise by doing him homage.  Vincent told us the poor are our Lords and masters.  Do we truly see them as such, and seek and accept God’s will for both them and us?

Father, may I see your presence in the poor and bow down in homage before them.  Help me to truly embrace making you the center of my life, acting with total humility and selflessness.  Give me the zeal and passion to focus all my efforts on caring for others as you did.  Let me see the light of your presence in the poor, and allow me to reflect that same light back to them by my actions.  I pray all of this in your Son’s name.  Amen

Deacon Mike

December 23 – Fourth Sunday of Advent

Two women come together and rejoice in their shared good news.  Both are to give birth, even though by human measure, neither should have been able.  One was thought too old and the other had not had relations with a man.  And yet, both understood that nothing is impossible for God.  Both rejoiced that God was blessing and using them.  And the child Elizabeth was carrying, recognized the presence of one greater than he even from the womb.  Where God’s will is accepted, embraced and fulfilled, great joy resides.

As Vincentians, we are to bring the presence of Christ to others by embracing God’s will with the same zeal that Mary, Elizabeth and John the Baptist had.  In us and in our compassion for others, they can witness how God can replace sorrow with joy. Through our joy, the hope of Christ burns brightly.  Do we recognize God’s will and willingly follow it with humility, zeal and joy?   

Father, help me to be open to the possibilities of life as Mary and Elizabeth were.  Give me the humility they displayed to accept your will and direction for my life and the lives of others.  Fill me with the joy of John who leapt in the womb at the presence of Christ.  Allow the hope of Christ to envelope my very being that it might radiate out to others through my every action and  word.    I pray all of this in your Son’s name.  Amen

Deacon Mike

December 16 – Third Sunday of Advent (Guadete Sunday)
Our readings this week are full of joy as we anticipate and feel the presence of the Lord coming toward us. Rejoice! I say it again rejoice. And the second sentiment is kindness and charity. John the Baptist gives voice to the charity which Jesus will both model and preach when he comes. Paul tells us in the second reading that “your kindness should be known to all.” The reality is these two concepts are inseparable. Kindness begets joy and joy spawns kindness. Both are given to us in the gift and grace of a little baby boy who is pure love. Pure love envelopes all that is around it and shines forth in kindness, joy, and charity.
As Vincentians, we are called to ”cry out with joy and gladness….confident and unafraid, for our strength and our courage is in the Lord,” says our Responsorial Psalm. There is only one response our ministry can have to those whom Christ brings into our lives. We reach out in love and compassion. We do so confident that our Lord will inspire us. We do so with the kindness he instills in us. And we come in joy because of the gift He has given us. Do I reflect the joy of God’s love in all my interactions with others? Do I have trust and confidence that God will always give me the answers I need and He wants me to have?
Father, I rejoice in the Lord always! Give me the courage to embrace your hope, your kindness and your joy with confidence trusting in your Divine Providence. Allow me to humbly embrace through prayer and petition those whom you bring to me in ministry. Help me to bring glad tidings to the poor that they may come to know your love and joy as I do. I pray all of this in your Son’s name. Amen
Deacon Mike

December 9 – Second Sunday of Advent

December 8 – Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

We celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary this Saturday.  She is the Patroness of SVdP as well as for our country.  The Feast celebrates the fact that she was without sin (the only human other than Jesus who can make that claim).  She was without sin, but she was not without free will.  She could have refused God, but she chose to allow God to enact His plan.  We too have free will and the ability to allow God to enact his plan in and through our lives – or to reject it.  We who are related to God by the grace of our baptism are given opportunity after opportunity to allow his plan to reach its fulfillment within us.  Mary had ultimate trust in God’s love and plan for each of us.  She gave total and complete submission to His will.  We hear throughout the gospels that she “kept all these things in her heart”.  She accepts with gratitude all that God gives us and seeks His will in all things.  She is the model of silent suffering, merciful kindness, compassionate love, and graceful strength in the face of adversity. 

As Vincentians, Mary is our eternal Mother and the embodiment of all we should aspire to be.  She shows us the path to pure holiness.  Do I accept all that God brings before me with gratitude and without hesitation?  Do I seek and follow His guidance in all decisions.  Do I allow His plan to become reality through my life?  Am I the comfort to others that Mary is to me?

Father, thank you for the gift of Mary, our eternal and loving Mother.  Allow me to see in her all that you call me to be.  Allow me to embrace your will for my life and for the lives of those I minister to as she embraced your will. Grant me the humility, the gentleness, the selflessness, the patience and the passion to follow in the model of love and compassion our Blessed Mother has shown us.    I pray all of this in your Son’s name.  Amen

Deacon Mike

December 2 – First Sunday of Advent

“May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all…so as to strengthen your hearts, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father.”  These are Saint Paul’s words to the Thessalonians from our second reading this week.  He is looking toward the final judgment and making clear what is most important in the eyes of the Lord – love for one another leading to growth in holiness.  As we begin the season of Advent, we look forward to both the birth of a tiny child AND that final coming as well.  We enter with a sense of anticipation, but also with a warning in the gospel to stay vigilant – to not become drowsy.  Advent is a season not only of anticipation, but also of preparation.  We prepare our hearts to receive the hope which Christ brings to us.

As Vincentians, our entire ministry is a response to that call to holiness by responding to God’s love for us by loving our neighbors in the same way.  We bow humbly before the Lord recognizing the great gift that He is to us and the hope that He brings to all.  This is a time for us to prepare our hearts and souls.  What changes do I need to make in my life?  How do I reflect the hope of Christ to those who I come into contact with?   Do I lift my soul to the Lord daily?

Lord Jesus, thank you for the gift of salvation.  Help me to stay vigilant.  Allow me to walk humbly, serving you at all times.  Help me to abound in love for others so as to be blameless in holiness before God.  Give me the grace to prepare fully in anticipation of the hope which is to come.    We pray all of this in your name.  Amen

Deacon Mike

November 25 – The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

 

We enter our final week of the liturgical year.  It is also the week, when more than any other, we pause as Americans to give thanks for all the blessings which we have received and the many gifts we have to be thankful for.  Our gospel on Thanksgiving Day recounts the story of the ten lepers who were healed – only one of whom offered thanks for the blessing.  All ten were suffering and likely had bitterness or sadness about their lot in life.  And yet, when they were graced with healing which gave them new hope and a new beginning, only one found his way back to our Lord.   The new Liturgical year offers each of us healing an renewed hope for the future as we anticipate the birth of our Lord.  It is only fitting that we bring an attitude of thanksgiving to the fore.

As Vincentians, we have all experienced both those who show little or no gratitude and those who are totally grateful.  So many have all the reason in the world to feel bitterness about their circumstances in life.  And yet, they find their way past the bitterness and are filled with gratitude for the help we bring.  It is their faith which leads them to see God’s hand in the help they receive.  Am I appreciative of all that I have?  Do I recognize the blessings God has bestowed on me?  Do I give glory, praise and thanks to God each and every day?

I pray for each of you that you may find the time to spend with your family this Thanksgiving.  As we enjoy our families, let us also take some time to remember those who are less fortunate – those who have no family, those who have no faith, those who are hurting and those who lack basic necessities. 

Lord Jesus, help me to see your hand in all that I have.  Let me see the many blessings in my life.  Give me the courage, the humility and the grace to stop and offer thanks to you for all I have.  Be with those who find themselves suffering during this time.  Let them bear their crosses in faith and see the hope that you offer to each of us.     We pray all of this in your name.  Amen

Deacon Mike

November 18 – Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

November 17 – St. Elizabeth of Hungary

Our readings recently have been increasingly about faith and the importance of trust in God AND following where God leads us.  Our second readings from Hebrews have reinforced that Jesus is our model and salvation.  Our first reading this week closes with,  “Those who lead many to justice will shine like the stars forever.”  This is where the readings about the end of time become less about something we hope will be in the far future and more about the way that we are living our faith now.  We need to lead the many to justice.  We are called to lead others to justice.  We are called to help them see His Presence in our actions, our care for the poor, the struggling, the sick, and all who are dependent on our compassion.  We are called to live our faith, reflecting the love of Christ here and now, that we might shine like the stars.

St. Elizabeth is a kindred spirit to the work we do in SVdP.  She was the daughter of the King of Hungary. But she led a life of prayer, sacrifice and service to the poor and sick. Seeking to become one with the poor, she wore simple clothing. Daily she would take bread to hundreds of the poorest in the land, who came to her gate.  She lived a short life dying at the age of 24 in the early 1200’s.    She shared the zeal – the passion – Vincent had for serving the poor.  She is the patron saint of Catholic Charities.  Like St. Vincent, she saw the need to live our faith now in obedience to the example of Jesus.  Do I look to live my faith today, by bringing justice or do I rely on the hope of the future?  Do I let my prayer lifeform my actions and lead me to compassion and mercy for the poor and struggling?

Lord Jesus, help me to see the injustices of society and help me to work against them. Let me see the hope of the future but understand my call to live today.  Help me to submit in obedience to the example of Christ in bringing justice and compassion to all who are in need.  Let me act with the passion, zeal and conviction of St. Vincent and St. Elizabeth of Hungary.  We pray all of this in your name.  Amen

Deacon Mike

From the Deacon’s Desk:  Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts

                       

November 11 – Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jesus calls the attention of his disciples to the poor widow in today’s gospel.  There are three aspects to the poor widow we should take note of.  First is why she is in poverty?  It is the injustices of the societal norms of the times which place her in poverty.  Second, despite these injustices and obstacles which she faces, she still is generous and caring for others.  She gives even when she would have every reason not to.  Third is her faith in God.  She was rich in faith while those who gave only from their surplus were poor in faith.

As Vincentians, we often times find these same aspects in the lives of the poor we minister to as well.  Many are victims of social injustice and an economic system which disadvantages them.  Despite the obstacles, so often we see great faith and generosity in those we serve.  How many times I have heard it asked, why they gave that money away when it could have helped them.  And the reply is so simple – because someone else needed it.  We would do well to learn from the poor, – faith and generosity grounded in trust in the Lord.  Do I call out the systems and practices which work against the poor improving their lives?  Do I recognize the generosity of self-sacrifice?  Does my faith persist even in the face of injustice?

Lord Jesus, help me to see the injustices of society and help me to work against them.  Give me the courage to give sacrificially as did the widow.  Grace me with faith so strong that it persists and increases in times of sorrow and pain.  We pray all of this in your name.  Amen

Deacon Mike

November 4 – Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jesus provides us with clarity this week as the scribes try to trip him up.  Which commandment is the greatest, they want to know?  Realize that we are not just talking first out of ten.  No, there were 613 laws which Moses gave in the Torah.  But Jesus did not focus on the 613 or the details of them.  Rather, he went right to the source of all law, God himself.  God, the source of all freedom and salvation, the source of redemption, and the perfection of love itself.  We are to love God with all our being.  Our focus is to be on God alone, for His love for us commands nothing less.  And our love of Him – when true and complete – cannot help but bring us to love of our neighbor as ourselves.  For when we are truly focused on God alone, we cannot help but recognize God in our neighbor.

As Vincentians, it is in the poor, the vulnerable and the marginalized that we find and share the love of God.  It is through our ministry that we come to know that it is in the Lord that we find our strength.  It is here that we find the immensity of His compassion and mercy.  Do I seek God’s mercy for those I minister to as well as for myself?   Are my eyes opened to His unending love for all of us?  Is my focus completely on His love for us and my love for Him?

Lord Jesus, open my eyes to your love for me.  Give me the humility to seek only your love and your will.  Help me to reflect that love in all that I do.  Let me love you with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, and all my strength.  And let me love my neighbor as myself.  We pray all of this in your name.  Amen

Deacon Mike

October 28 – Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In our gospel this week we hear the story of the blind Bartimeaous, who throws away his cloak in total trust, obedience and faith in the Lord.  He doesn’t walk away because the cost is too steep (the wealthy man).  He doesn’t place conditions for following (James and John).  His cloak is all he has, but he does not hesitate.  He has total faith and total trust in Jesus. And he follows him with total commitment.  We too are called to bring our needs to Jesus and to have total trust that he will provide for all that we need. 

As Vincentians, we should not look within ourselves for answers to our problems or those of our brothers and sisters in need.  We should look only in one place.  We should look to God, turning to him in prayer, and listening intently for the answers he provides.  Do we have total trust that God will provide us the answers we need?  Are we willing to walk away from any conditions on our requests to God?  Are the prayers we lift up to our Lord filled with requests or filled with a seeking of His will?

Lord Jesus, help me to trust in you as Bartimeaous did.  Give me the courage to let go of all that keeps me from a total commitment to you.  Help me to seek your will in all things. We pray all of this in your name.  Amen

Deacon Mike

October 21 – Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In our gospel today we hear “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask you.”  How many times do we approach God in this way?  I know I certainly do so repeatedly ‘even though I know better.’  But as Jesus tells us, “we do not know what we are asking.”  In other words, be careful what you wish for.  Our Responsorial Psalm gives us the proper attitude and approach we should come to God with.  “Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.”  We should come to the Lord humbly seeking His mercy placing our trust fully and completely in Him.

As Vincentians, this captures the essence of our ministry.  We come to God, seeking mercy for ourselves and for those whom He brings before us.  Even when we do not understand or like where God is leading us, we must trust completely in His Divine Providence.  Every time we give over to God that which belongs to Him (everything), we grow a little more in holiness.  Do I trust in His ways at all times?  Do I walk in humility before God?  Am I willing to offer myself sacrificially that His mercy and goodness may be seen by others?

Lord Jesus, help me to always place myself before you in service and gratitude.  Allow me to grow each day in humility, sacrificing my needs and desires that I may make know your mercy in the lives of others.  Give me a heart that fully commits to you and trusts in your ways.  We pray all of this in your name.  Amen

Deacon Mike

October 14 – Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
In our gospel this weekend we hear the story of the rich young man who comes to ask Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. He is a good and virtuous person who obeys the commandments, is already generous and appears headed in the right direction. But Jesus tells him he must get rid of all his property and come and follow Him. Are we to take from this that we should have no money or material goods? Of course not. But what we must rid ourselves of
are any barriers or obstacles that keep us from fully committing to Jesus. Fully committing means giving ourselves over to Him that He may use us as He sees fit. It is about trusting completely in Him and submitting fully in humility to Him. As Vincentians, we are called to approach the poor and vulnerable in complete humility and trust. We are to be a vehicle for Christ to work through. One problem we can have when caring for the poor is we care for them instead of allowing Christ to care for them through us, and allowing them to see the face and love of Christ. Mother Teresa tells us “The poor are hungry
not only for food, they are hungry to be recognized as human beings. They are hungry for dignity and to be treated as we are treated. They are hungry for our love.” Do I minister with complete love, coming with humility and trust in God? Do I set my prejudices to the side?
Lord Jesus, help me to minister with complete humility and trust. Help me to remove the barriers in my life that keep me from fully committing to you and to the poor. Let me be consumed by my love for you, that I may become that which you give to me. We pray all of this in your name. Amen 

Deacon Mike