May 31 – Pentecost Sunday
Potential! That’s what that frightened band of men – the apostles – that’s what they had until that Pentecost so long ago. The Spirit descended upon them and suddenly this cowardly, frightened group became enabled and emboldened by the Spirit to do all that they were called to do. Their potential was unlocked and unleashed. Their fears were overcome! He gifted the apostles with the Holy Spirit to guide and protect them, and so too He gifts us. We are reminded on this Pentecost weekend that the presence of the Spirit of God is a fact. We are encouraged to trust in the presence of that Spirit that formed the followers of Jesus – that made it possible for them to jump into the whole experience of being church – to realize their full potential. We are emerging from the darkness of a terrible pandemic. God has armed us with greater knowledge of how to protect ourselves and others. He calls us now to trust in Him. He is with us – here and now. The question is whether we throw ourselves into the Spirit of God and let that Spirit move us and form us and make us what we are supposed to be? God is here in our midst regardless of what we do or who we are or how we act. He calls us out of the darkness and into the light. He fills our hearts with the fire of His love and calls us to be the renewal of the earth. We need to embrace and realize our potential!
As Vincentians, we renew our commitment to take Christ out into the world, confident that the Spirit is with us and in us. We are a sent community whom the breath of God has touched, a community of Vincentians called church, sent to bring hope into the midst of despair. In new and creative ways, we bring hope to so many in need. It may be someone who is hurting financially, emotionally or spiritually – someone who is in need of the presence of Christ in their lives. We may be the lifeline God is extending to them. We may make the difference in their lives by how we react. The Spirit – and our spirituality – must become a part of the very fabric of who we are. For God has sent His Spirit into our hearts. Will I submit to God’s will in my life and in the lives of others? Will I let the Spirit work through me to bring hope to others? Will I allow my potential – the potential given me by God – to be fully realized during this time of need?
God our Father, thank you for the gift of your presence in our lives through the Holy Spirit who walks with us and the Eucharist – the very Body and Blood of your Son – which nourishes us for the journey each day. Help me to find ways to be your light shining through this pandemic to bring hope to those who are hurting. Allow me to open myself up that you might use me fully and completely as I minister to others – helping them to see your Love and compassion through me, that they may recognize the Hope present in their lives and find Faith once again. Let me always recognize your presence in my life that I might share that very presence out with others. I pray all of this in your Son’s name. Amen
May 17 – Sixth Sunday of Easter
As we come to the end of the Easter season, fear and uncertainty are replaced by hope and confident love. The significance of Easter is that we have reason for hope. Hope that is born out of the love of God. Hope that is born out of the sacrifice of Jesus. Hope that is made possible through the grace of God and hope that is reachable by loving God and following his commandments. Our joy is found in the hope given us through the Easter event, a hope that radiates in ordinary day to day living that prompts us and others to conversion, to interest in faith in God, to the possibilities of a new start – a new beginning. This year more than ever, we are faced with new beginnings. As we emerge from the fear and uncertainty we have faced over the past many weeks, we are called to “sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts”, to embrace the Advocate whom He gives us to lead us forward, and to trust in His love and care for us to carry us to new joys, new ways and new hope. Our hope is in Jesus Christ!
As Vincentians, we need to lead the way out of this pandemic through our love and hope for the Lord. We need to “cry out to God with joy”. We need to look to the Spirit in prayer seeking wisdom in the decisions we make. We need to act with patience and kindness as we lead others to the light of a new day. Am I the humble but passionate servant of the Lord each and every day? Will I, like the apostles before me, emerge proclaiming goodness and love with conviction and mercy? Will I trust the Lord that He will lead myself and those whom He brings before me to a new day drenched in the joy and hope of His love?
Lord Jesus, we turn to you in praise and thanksgiving! Draw us from the darkness of fear, uncertainty, and confusion. Allow us to emerge in confidence embracing the new day you place before us. Instill in us the confidence and passion of the apostles at Pentecost. Grace us that we might be your shining lights illuminating your glory, your will and your love for all to see. Guide me in my ministry that I may come in humility and charity to those whom you bring before me. Allow your Spirit to guide our actions and words allowing them to touch ourselves and others with the transformations you seek. I pray all of this in your name. Amen
May 10 – Fifth Sunday of Easter
May 10 – Mother’s Day
This Sunday we celebrate Mother’s Day. It comes just a little more than a week after the Bishops of the US and Canada consecrated our countries to Mary, the model for all mothers and the Mother of us all. Jesus tells us in the gospel, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God, have faith also in me.” During these challenging times it is easy to lose our faith, to become fearful of the unknown, and to be unsure of where to turn. Our Psalm says “Lord, let your mercy be upon us, as we place our trust in you.” It is in Jesus that we can place our trust because as He tells us “I am the way and the truth and the life.” Mary understood this as she took all things into her heart – but her heart was not troubled for she had total trust and obedience to our Lord. Even when she did not understand, she said “let me be the handmaid of the Lord” without hesitation or reservation. Mary embraced God in her heart and turned it into the ardent love of a mother, a love inspired by God’s love for us. We are called to follow Mary, trusting completely in God’s plan for us, our Lord’s love for us, and the Spirit’s protection for us.
As Vincentians, this week let us reflect upon the will and love of a mother – our mother the Blessed Virgin Mary. Let us seek her guidance and protection as we place our trust only in God. Let us turn in humble prayer ever more fervently as we seek God’s will for our neighbors and ourselves. Let us resolve to bring a mother’s love to all those to whom we minister being relentless in our love and our desire to provide for their needs. We say that no act of charity is foreign to the society. Do we seek to provide the true support each of our neighbor’s needs, even when it seems insurmountable? Do we turn in prayer, asking for guidance in all our decisions? Do we always remember that the most important help we bring usually comes from our heart and not our ‘wallet’? Do we offer a listening heart, taking all things in and trusting in God?
Lord Jesus, thank you for the grace of mothers and the merciful and compassionate love they teach us. Help me always to turn to Mary, our Blessed Mother, seeking intercession for those who are most in need. Give me the persistence and determination of a mother to continually seek what is truly needed for your children. Give me the wisdom to provide guidance to those whom you bring before me, that I may help them to address their needs completely. Let me seek your will and respond without hesitation or reservation. I pray all of this in your name. Amen,
May 3 – Fourth Sunday of Easter
This week we hear about a voice that is truer and sweeter, more powerful and strong, steadier than any other voice – the voice of the Good Shepherd – the voice of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Good Shepherd. Our shepherd into eternity! From our very birth He begins to call to us. During these times of fear, uncertainty and separation, it can become harder to hear His voice. But it is His voice that cuts through the darkness when we listen closely. Perhaps one of the blessings of these times will be that we became better listeners – better at prayer. Through prayer and a focus on His voice, Jesus will lead us through these times if only we let him.
As Vincentians, do we listen intently for the voice of the Lord? Only in prayer, discernment and openness of heart can we hear the truth of His voice above the thoughts and sounds of our own desires; and the doubts and fears we are confronted with daily. Do we truly look for His guidance in the decisions we make daily for ourselves and our clients? The pandemic has turned lives upside down. Patience, compassion and trust in God must be our steadying influences. As Jesus walks with us, we are called to walk with others listening to their stories and offering them the calm and the hope of our Lord Jesus. And we only can hear that when we listen intently, wait patiently and walk humbly. Am I a good shepherd to those I minister to, trusting in God to lead the way? Have I made my ministry even more grounded in prayer as we have been forced to find new pathways?
Lord Jesus, Help me to overcome my fears during this time. As I am separated from the celebration of your liturgy, let me draw ever closer to you in prayer. Open my ears that I may hear your will for me in all decisions I make. Give me the courage to hear and share the truth of your words. Allow me to submit humbly to all you call me to and all you ask of me. Allow me to take the time to seek your wisdom, listening constantly that I may not go astray. Give me the grace to spread your calm and your hope to all I encounter. Make my heart burn with the desire to do your will always. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
April 26 – Third Sunday of Easter
April 24 – St. Vincent DePaul birthday
“Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?” This week we hear the story of the Road to Emmaus which we are so familiar with. Jesus walks with the disciples listening to their stories as they struggle to understand recent events. He helps them to deal with their fears by first walking with them, simply being present, and listening. Then he helps them to understand their struggles by building relationship and trust through conversation focused on truth. He brings them comfort, peace from their fears and truth which opens their eyes to His glory. He gives them a passion, a burning desire born out of that truth and his love for them. During these difficult times, He walks with each of us as well, listening to our fears and offering us His truth, love and mercy. When we focus on Him and our relationship with Him and one another, our hearts burn with desire for understanding. We also thirst for the nourishment of His body and blood in the Eucharist. Our eyes and our hearts will be opened wide on that day we once again share at the Eucharistic table.
As Vincentians, we are confronted with many who are fearful of new challenges in life. We need to offer our presence and listen to their stories. We need to offer relationship and presence to them, walking with them in their time of need. Do I simply offer help, or do I offer myself, uniting fully to those I minister to? Do I listen to their stories with patience and mercy? Do I help them to see past the pain of today to the hope of tomorrow?
Lord Jesus, help me to overcome my doubts and fears, trusting always in your goodness, mercy and love. Allow me to be the wounds of your cross, which help strengthen the faith and hope of others. Let me be the presence others need, building relationship and trust through mercy and compassion. Give me a listening ear and a truthful tongue, just as you had on the Road to Emmaus. Help me to minister with patience and humility, always helping others to see you in all things. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
April 19 – Divine Mercy Sunday
“Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” It is a clarion call to have faith, to believe, even in the face of serious doubts. We find ourselves in challenging times as we struggle with the fear and uncertainty bred by this horrible pandemic. As we enter into the season of Easter we are reminded though of the mercy of God. “His mercy endures forever.” Our Psalm reminds us. We are called – particularly in times of struggle – to see beyond our fears and recognize the hope of our Lord Jesus. On this, Divine Mercy Sunday, Jesus is patient with us as he was with Thomas. He understands our doubts and calms us with His words “Peace be with you!” He is well pleased with those who have total faith with no doubts, but is merciful to those who have doubts and continues to call us to Him in merciful love.
As Vincentians, we minister to those who are hurting and suffering in life. Especially now, we encounter neighbors who have not faced such concerns in the past. As we minister to them and help them to see the hope of tomorrow, we look to grow in holiness by overcoming our own woundedness, fears and prejudices. We are the wounds of Christ that they may see His love and goodness through us and rejoice in the hope he brings them. In the strength of their faith, we are reminded of Christ’s call to us to live in faith even when it is difficult. Together, we say to one another, “Peace be with you!” and we offer the assurance of Christ’s abiding and enduring love and mercy. Am I patient with those I minister to, as Christ is patient with me? Am I merciful to others as He is to me? Does their faith and woundedness help me to be strengthened in my faith and trust in God?
Lord Jesus, help me to overcome my doubts and fears, trusting always in your goodness, mercy and love. Allow me to be the wounds of your cross, which help strengthen the faith and hope of others. Help me to minister with patience and humility, always helping others to see you in all things. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
April 12 – Easter Sunday
At the Easter Vigil we transition from total darkness, gradually into light; a light ushered in by the Paschal Candle and the Easter Proclamation known as the Exsultet. “Be glad, let earth be glad, as glory floods her, ablaze with light from her eternal king. Let all corners of the earth be glad, knowing an end to gloom and darkness.” Easter ushers in newness of life, hope and great mercy! But it is hard to see this year. And yet, we know the hope of Christ and hear his words, “DO NOT BE AFRAID!” Perhaps this year, more than any other we have experienced, connects us more closely to those first Christians than ever before. A friend reminded me of this with this note:
“The very first Easter was not in a crowded worship space with singing and praising. On the very first Easter the disciples were locked in their house. It was dangerous for them to come out. They were afraid. They wanted to believe the good news they heard from the women, that Jesus had risen. But it seemed too good to be true. They were living in a time of such despair and such fear. If they left their homes their lives and the lives of their loved ones might be at risk. Could a miracle really have happened? Could life really had won out over death? Could this time of terror and fear really be coming to an end?
Alone in their homes they dared to believe that hope was possible, that the long night was over and morning had broken, that God’s love was the most powerful of all, even though it didn’t seem quite real yet. Eventually, they were able to leave their homes, when the fear and danger had subsided, they went around celebrating and spreading the good news that Jesus was risen and love was the most powerful force on the earth.”
“This year, we might get to experience a taste of what that first Easter was like, still in our homes daring to believe that hope is on the horizon. Then, after a while, when it is safe for all people, when it is the most loving choice, we will come out, gathering together, singing and shouting the good news that God brings life even out of death, that love always has the final say!”
As Vincentians, we have a special responsibility to push past our fears with the sure hope we know Christ brings to us. During these times, so many find themselves confronted with circumstances they never expected. We are their assurance of hope and help. For many though, the first thing they need is our presence and listening ear. We need to give voice to “Do not be afraid!” Do I make myself truly present to those in need? Do I listen to help relieve their fears and suffering? Do I offer to them the hope and light of Christ?
Lord Jesus, you are the way, the truth, and the life! Let me see in your resurrection the hope of tomorrow! Take my fears and cast them to the side. Grace me with the patience and compassion to be present to those who are suffering. Help me to lift them up as you lift me. Praise and glory to your name, for in you and through you we shall arise from this darkness to be with you in paradise. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
April 5 – Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday has arrived. Things are moving and changing so quickly and yet time seems to be moving so slowly. We go from our Lord’s jubilant entry into Jerusalem to less than a week later hearing the cries of “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” Our second reading from Philippians is iconic. In short order it recounts that Jesus went from being God to being slave; from being put to death on a cross to be exalted by God the Father and recognized by all as Lord and God. Indeed, it portrays the greatest humility and the greatest glory both displayed as one. The events, the meaning and the necessary response can overwhelm us. The followers of Jesus at that time, including the apostles were filled with fear, lost their way for a time, and only found their way back by turning to God in patience, in trust and in prayer. For it did not make sense and they had no answers. Their salvation was in loving one another for they had not yet seen God’s answer – the Resurrection! What a long week it must have been for them, feeling like an eternity with no good outcome. We too have faced a long and confusing time with the pandemic which has struck the world. As their Lord was taken from them, our churches and the Eucharist himself has been taken from us. Fear can embrace us if we let it. We can feel powerless in the face of all of this. I wish I could provide answers to you. But the only answers are in patience and trust and prayer. We need to care for one another now more than ever, holding each other in love and trusting in God’s love for us. We do not know the outcome individually or collectively, but we know that God has our backs!
As Vincentians, we encounter others through our ministry who face fear, uncertainty and upheaval in their lives in ways we often can only imagine. Now more than ever we need to be a beacon of hope, reminding them that they matter, that we love them and so does God. We need to help them to find patience, trust in God and prayer. And so often in our attempts to do so, they actually help us to the very same. When we turn our fears over to Him, He walks with us enlightening us and embracing us in the warmth of His love. Am I able to trust in both my ministry and in my life in God’s will? Do I lose sight of being truly faithful in ministry and life, to God and trusting that IN HIS TIME He will respond to our needs and the needs of our neighbors? Do I turn to God in prayer, joining my suffering to that of the suffering servant Jesus, accepting all that he gives me and awaiting the glory of His mercy?
Lord Jesus, guide me in right paths. Give me the patience to listen for your will for myself and for our ministry. Equip me with the right words and actions guided by your Spirit in all that I do. Give me humility that I might never lose sight of your will in all things. Help my unbelief that I may believe and trust that you will not fail me if I keep my eyes and ears and heart totally focused on you. In the absence of your presence in the Eucharist, let me join you in Spiritual Communion that I might never be separated from you. I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul. Come at least spiritually into my heart and let me embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Help my suffering and the suffering of others, that we might accept these crosses and embrace them as you embraced yours. Let our suffering connect ever more fully to that which you endured for us. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
March 29 – Fifth Sunday in Lent
Our gospel this weekend is the story of Jesus bringing back to life Lazarus from Bethany. Of particular note is the end of the passage when Jesus cries out in a loud voice “Lazarus, come out.” And when Lazarus came out, he instructed them to “untie him and let him go.” There was no need for Jesus to call to Lazarus to come out, nor to have other unbind him. These actions were not for Jesus’s benefit, but rather for ours. While he calls each of us from the death and darkness of sin (particularly through our baptism), we each also have a responsibility to help one another overcome the sins and challenges that bind us up each day. We are to free others from their difficulties in life. In so doing, we come to believe because we see the power of God manifested through those actions. During these difficult times, when we are separated from one another, we need to reach out in friendship and love to support one another. We must listen in prayer for the voice of our Lord over the noise of the COVID-19. He tells us, “Do not be afraid, for I am with you always!” He calls for us to embrace one another during the difficulties of our lives.
As Vincentians, our call to holiness comes through the unbinding of the poor and less fortunate. As we unbind them from their challenges in life, they unbind us from our prejudices, from our pride, and from our self-centeredness. We grow in our humility and patience and the Spirit of God comes to dwell fully in us and we come to know the Lord that we may believe. We become as the woman at the well, the man blind from birth and, Mary from the gospel this week, saying, “Yes Lord, I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God.” We must tap into our charism of friendship to both our neighbors and to one another. As Jesus reaches back to each of us through the Eucharist (the Thanksgiving of love eternal), we must become like Eucharist to one another. We may be separated in distance but we must be one in thought and caring. Do I make extra efforts to call others, be sensitive to others, and address the needs of my neighbors, brothers and sisters? Do I embrace others from afar with zeal, love and concern?
Lord Jesus, grace me with your presence even absent the sacrament. Help me with my fears. Let me help others with theirs. Allow me to find new ways to be your presence to others. Let me be your instrument that others may come to know you through me. Reveal to me your spirit of faith and hope through those whom you bring to me. Allow me to join the woman at the well, the blind man and Mary of Bethany proclaiming your goodness and testifying to your Word though my words and actions. Now more than ever, let your love for us and our love for others overcome our physical distancing. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
March 22 – Fourth Sunday in Lent
We are in the midst of our Lenten journey. Our readings this week take on a tone of calling us out of the darkness into the light. “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” This passage in the second reading is a reminder that it is Christ who is our hope and our light. In the gospel he heals a blind man giving him sight. During this moment in history, a moment of darkness as we grapple with COVID-19, it is through prayer, through Christ and in Christ that we find hope and light. He calls each of us as well to be His light, lifting one another out of the darkness.
As Vincentians, now more than ever, our neighbors in need find comfort in our presence in their lives. We offer the hope of Christ. Many who have not faced challenges before may now find themselves confronted with new circumstances. Our prayers, our presence and the light of Christ which we make apparent through our ministry. We may be the only light present in their lives at this point. We must trust in the guidance and protection of Christ to inform our ministry during this time. Do I make myself available to others to be the presence of Christ in their time of need? Am I willing overcome my fears, and find ways to meet the needs of those who are most vulnerable?
Lord Jesus, help me to see your light and goodness through the darkness. Give me the courage find ways to minister to others, overcoming all obstacles. Allow me to place my trust in your guidance for my ministry. Help me to be the light and presence that others might find your hope in their lives as well. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
March15 – Third Sunday in Lent
Our readings this week speak to a constant tension that exists in our relationship with God as we journey from sinfulness through conversion toward complete humility, trust and obedience to His will and plan for us. The first reading talks about Massah and Meribah, which mean to test and quarrel. They are a reminder of this tension where the people would put God to the test and quarrel at times with how he cared for them. We are thankful for the blessings he bestows upon us and readily trust Him when things are good. But we struggle when things don’t go according to our plan for life, and begin to question anew His care for us. We need to listen for his voice and guidance in all things, and soften our hearts to accept His will for us. We need to maintain hope through the difficult times, realizing that He will lift us from our sufferings to ultimate joy.
As Vincentians, with every neighbor in need, we enter into situations where people are challenged to see God’s plan for them. We become present to them in their time of need just as God is always present to us. We ask them to trust us and allow us to help them just as God asks us so often to trust him. Through prayer we discern what God’s will for their situation is. It can be challenging for them to understand and for us as well. Do I seek God’s will in difficult situations for neighbors in need AND for myself? Do I trust that God will be present in both easy and difficult times? Do I listen for His voice, with an open and loving heart?
Lord Jesus, help my heart not to be hardened. Give me patience with those I minister to when they struggle with trusting me. Give me patience to trust in your will, not putting you to the test nor quarrelling with your ways. Help me to make myself fully present to others that I may be more aware of your continual presence to me. Grace me with humility to submit fully to your will trusting in your love for me always. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
March 8 – Second Sunday in Lent
This week we find ourselves between extreme opposites. We go from the depths of the dessert where we are confronted with temptation, despair, hunger, weakness and darkness as we come face to face with the devil and all his cunning; to the transfiguration moment, when we come face to face with God in all His glory and majesty. In the later, we are reminded of the promise and hope that is offered to us when we are confronted with the dark moments in our lives. Each of us I suspect has had transfiguration moments in our lives to a greater or lesser degree. Some are simply aha moments when the presence and reality of heaven are apparent. Others are truly transformation moments which are life altering for us. All are moments of grace bestowed upon us by God to provide us the hope, encouragement and strength to continue in our journey toward heaven.
As Vincentians, we are blessed with the opportunity to on occasion be the tool that God uses to provide transformative moments to those whom we encounter in our ministry. It may be neighbors in need or other Vincentians – or simply someone observing that which we do. The moments may be small glimmers of hope brought about by the food we offer or the words we speak. On occasion we may be blessed to see lives truly change before our eyes. In all instances, we are challenged to be open to the movement of God in our lives and through us into the lives of others. When we open ourselves to be His vessel, we allow Christ Himself to shine through for all to see – including ourselves. Will I humbly submit myself to God’s will for me and others? Will I make the hope of Christ evident through both my words and my actions?
Lord Jesus, use me as your vessel. Allow me to empty myself of my concerns, my prejudices, and my self-centeredness that I may make room for you to be truly present. If it be your will, use me to be a vehicle of transfiguration moments for others that they may come to know you and love you and serve you. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
March 1 – First Sunday in Lent
On Ash Wednesday, in our Gospel Acclamation, we hear the refrain from Psalm 95, “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” Immediately after the gospel, in the prayer for the blessing of ashes, the first words we hear are “O God, who are moved by acts of humility and respond with forgiveness to works of penance, lend your merciful ear to our prayers.” We enter into Lent by first going into the desert with Jesus to contemplate the temptations in our lives and how we are to respond. Do we follow the example of Adam and Eve, not listening to the voice of God, turning our hearts away, letting our pride control us? Or do we follow the example of Jesus, who chooses always and everywhere to submit in obedience to God’s will, embracing humility and prayer as His shield against the temptations of Satan, while responding with mercy and compassion for those he meets.
As Vincentians, we go into the desert of poverty, pain to suffering, each time we go on home visits or care for those who are suffering and vulnerable. Each time we see the face of Christ – even if we don’t recognize it at first. We are called to listen with a merciful ear, acting with a tenderness of heart as we seek God’s will, and respond with kindness and humility. We listen for His voice that our hearts might be moved through prayer away from sin, and we might be healed through our care for others. Do I enter into each encounter through prayer and humility, listening for His will that my heart might be moved to act with mercy and compassion? When I look at situations of suffering and the challenges of others, am I able to see the reflection of my poverties that I might seek God’s forgiveness and surrender to His will?
Lord Jesus, I pray this Lenten season that you will shield me from the temptation of pride and help me to grow in humility. Help me to hear your voice, following in the footsteps of Jesus, seeking your will in all situations. Allow me to be a vessel serving you in whatever way you call me to. Let me look at those whom you bring before me, and see in them what it is that you call me to. Help me to recognize Lord that as I serve them, they serve me. In Christ’s name! Amen
February 23 – Seventh Sunday Ordinary Time
Our first reading this week kind of sets the table for us. It comes from Leviticus which is a very important book from the Old Testament but a seldom read book in our lectionary cycle. You could think of it as a book of rules for conduct by God’s people. But it is truly more than that. It is a handbook on holiness – a guide for living a life in accordance with God’s will for his people. The quoted section really summarizes the message of all of Leviticus. God calls us to holiness. Not holy behavior or practices, but holiness as in being like God himself. “Be holy, for I the Lord, your God am holy.” We are called to nothing less than likeness to God. In our second reading Paul asks us the question – and reminds us, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells within you?” We are a temple of God, a temple into which we place God every time we come to the altar and receive the Eucharist. God gave us the Eucharist that we might take him in and become more like him. We are called to bring his light and his hope to the world. Our gospel concludes our readings saying “Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Nothing like a high bar to shoot for!! But as Vincentians, this is exactly what we seek. To grow in holiness and to become perfect like our heavenly Father. How do we achieve that? By letting His light and His image shine through every word and action that we undertake. The question we should ask ourselves every day and after every visit – did I love as Jesus would have? Did I embrace “Father forgive them for they know not what they do?” Did I love as Jesus loved?
Lord Jesus, allow your light to shine through me. Help me to embrace all that you are. Help me to let go of my prejudices, my fears, and my imperfections that I might strive to be perfect. Grace me with patience, humility, zeal, gentleness and mercy that my every action and word may be infused with your Eucharistic love. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
February 16 – Sixth Sunday Ordinary Time
Jesus tells us, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.” What are we to make of this? Jesus is telling us it is about more than laws or rules. We follow those out of obligation, fear or both. He is teaching us that our actions must be driven by more than that – they must be driven by love and desire – desire to please God, to glorify God and to love God. The laws and teachings that God gives us are to teach us how to accomplish this. As we embrace God’s laws, we may begin out of obligation but as develop habits that incline us to do good (definition of virtue), those virtues lead us to desire and love of God. This is the fulfillment of what God calls us to.
As Vincentians, we have the Rule, the Manual, and the Home Visit at the very core of who we are. Vincentian virtues and the Vincentian Pathway guide us as we develop those habits which lead us to holiness. In ministry to the poor and those in need, we sometimes find discomfort as we learn to love as God loves. Our goal is to grow in holiness as we move from ministry done because we ‘know it is the right thing to do;’ to ministry born out of unconditional love and mercy, that has at its core a desire to serve Christ in the poor. Is my ministry born out of an obligation to do ‘right’, or a desire to love God in others? What challenges do I face as I travel this journey of growth?
Lord Jesus, soften my heart that I might see Christ in those I serve. Help me to grow in my desire to serve. Give me the courage to confront my prejudices that I might overcome them. Give me the will to serve humbly in service to you. Give me the passion to set the world on fire with your love! We pray all of this in your name. Amen
February 9 – Fifth Sunday Ordinary Time
In our first reading from Isaiah we hear these words from the Lord “share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless, clothe the naked when you see them, and do not turn your back on your own.” These are all about living out the Beatitudes we heard in last week’s gospel. This week’s gospel has Jesus providing his ‘follow up’ to those Beatitudes. It is his call to action that we must be light for the world. We are to take the blessing he has given us and carry it out – caring for others.
As Vincentians, we are graced every day with the opportunity to live out these Beatitudes through our ministry to others. We do so with humility, realizing that only through prayer and the nourishment of the Eucharist are we able to embrace that which God gives us. We proclaim His goodness and love, showing His light to the world, not through our words but through our prayers and actions. Our ministry will only be as good as our devotion to the source of the light, Jesus Christ. Let us come often in prayer, praise and worship, seeking strength through the Eucharist that we may share it fully.
Lord Jesus, you are the source of all goodness and light. Draw me into your Eucharist that I may be infused with the strength of your love, driven by the depth of your mercy and compassion, and fueled by your immeasurable hope. Give me the strength to live the Beatitudes that your light might shine through me. Never let me lose sight of my love for you, my need for you, and your will for me. Let me be your humble servant. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
February 2 – Presentation of the Lord
This week we celebrate the Presentation of the Lord. It is a Feast which used to be called the Purification of Mary because of the prophesy of Simeon. His prophesy points to the suffering Jesus will endure which leads to the sorrows Mary will endure. Our reading from Malachi talks of the refiner’s fire which purifies. These readings – these thoughts are not for the meek or faint of heart. The suffering which Jesus endured was for the purification of our sons. He took on that which he did not have to so that we might have our burden lightened. Mary accepted her sorrows out of obedience to God’s will and acceptance of His Providence. In the presentation, Jesus and Mary both model for us complete humility, a complete embracing of and submission to the Father’s will, and complete self-sacrifice that the burden for others might be lessened.
As Vincentians, we are called to accept this role in relationship to those in need. The Letter to the Hebrews says “because he was tested through what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.” We are called to help others through the experiences of our sufferings. In turn, through their suffering they teach us to embrace acceptance, patience and hope. How do I use my suffering and my pains to help me to minister to others? Do I listen to their story that I might share in their pains and learn through their hopes, their fears, and their acceptance? Do I seek to find and embrace God’s will in all things?
Lord Jesus, purify me of my sinfulness, my selfishness and my pride. Allow me to take on the suffering of others as Jesus takes on my suffering as his own. Give me the humility and patience of Mary to take all these things into my heart, accepting and trusting in your Divine Providence. Help me to lessen the burdens of others by graciously accepting their pain as my pain and showing them the light of your love. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
January 26 – Third Sunday Ordinary Time
Our readings this week send us a clear message that there is but one purpose, one will, and one leader. “The lord is my light and salvation!” Paul tells us “that there be no divisions among us and that we be united in the same mind and purpose.” Our ‘calling’ does not belong to us, but to Jesus Christ. Each of us is called to a unity of purpose – a purpose of loving Christ and reflecting his light out to others! Through prayer and discernment we come to know the will of God. Through humility, we submit to that will and seek to set our own agendas aside. His will calls us to charity for one another, forgiveness of each other and mercy and compassion particularly toward the most vulnerable among us.
As Vincentians, we seek consensus in our decisions because it is not about a ‘vote’ of our personal preferences, but rather about collaboration with one another and with the Spirit to discern God’s will. This only happens when we discern our decisions through prayer. It comes by seeking and growing in the virtues of charity, humility, simplicity, gentleness and selflessness. We should have a zeal to seek God’s will above our own. This is why conference meetings where cases are discussed and discerned in prayerful consideration are essential for our spiritual growth. It is why prayer before, during and after home visits is a must. Do I seek God’s will in all things or do I seek to impose my will? Are prayer and discernment at the core of all my actions? Do I see SVdP as a calling to a way of life, or simply an opportunity to help others?
Lord Jesus, help me to seek out your will above my own, that I may be united in spirit and thought to the broader Vincentian family. Allow me to set aside divisiveness, to enter into prayer and reflection, that I may allow your Spirit to enter deeply into my very essence guiding my thoughts, my words and my actions. Through humility, give me a spirit of cooperation, a spirit of forgiveness, and a spirit of mercy and compassion. May I continually come to reflect your will with greater frequency each and every day. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
January 19 – Second Sunday Ordinary Time
“Behold the Lamb of God!” Such simple and yet powerful words. We typically think of a lamb as a meek and innocent animal. It is the animal that throughout history has been the most popular ‘sacrifice.’ John’s clarion call in this gospel of the true nature of Jesus for us –as our servant and the sacrifice of God for our sinfulness: a sacrifice made that we might benefit – is a stark reminder to each of us about how we should approach others as well. Jesus did not come from a place of power or judgement – although he clearly could have. Rather he comes from a place of humility, a place of mercy and compassion, a place of forgiveness and acceptance and a place of encouragement and hope. In this gospel, Jesus has just finished his forty days in the desert, tempted by Satan. He overcomes Satan not through displays of power but through continual deference to the will of the Father, through humility, prayer and sacrifice. He conveys his strength through patience, kindness, love and truth. Jesus is the Lamb! We hear that twenty nine times in the Book of Revelations alone. It is intertwined within the liturgy of our Mass – the great sacrifice of the Lamb at the altar! His sole motivation was complete agape love! Through His sacrifice, he draws each of us in, refreshing our souls and renewing our hope simply with the power of truth presented through humility, service and sacrifice! Love – unabated and unblemished!
As Vincentians, when we minister in service to others in need, do we come as a lamb? Is there an innocence to what we are about or do we have our own agenda? Do we stand ready to sacrifice and suffer for others that they might benefit? Do we serve without judgement or high expectation? Do we offer ourselves fully and completely without condition or restraint? ‘Behold the Lamb!! Come follow me!’
Lord Jesus, I thank you for your sacrifice for me! I humble myself before you, asking that you help me embrace sacrifice for others, that through my suffering I may become ever more connected to your cross and they may come to see your presence. Help me to overcome my judgements and expectations. Instill in me a spirit of charity and mercy. Give me the grace to act with kindness and gentleness. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
January 12 – Baptism of the Lord
This week we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord. A baptism he did not have to have. And yet he did because it was the will of the Father that he be connected to us in our humanity and we be connected to him. Through his baptism, he ushered in the hope of the future. The Spirit descended upon him as He does on us. In Baptism we are graced with the desire of our faith and the protection and guidance of our Lord. In Baptism, Jesus claims us and says this is my brother / sister with whom I am well pleased! In His baptism he models for us the depth of humility that carries an unconditional acceptance of the will of the Father and a commitment to the sacrifices ahead. He embraces our weaknesses, our fears, our sins as his. His humility broke the sin of Adam’s pride. It calls each of us by our baptism to strive for the same humility in our lives. It calls each of us to follow our Lord and Savior as we embrace the Divine Providence of God.
As Vincentians, we are called to be the beacons of hope to those whom we encounter. Through our faith and trust in God, we help to instill in others a desire for healing and hope. When we embrace the challenges of our neighbors in need as our own, we make present to them the love of God. In humility we are called to walk with them, trusting in each other and in God’s plan for each of us. Do I embrace my neighbors by showing them my trust in God that they too may come to trust in Him? Do I bring God into all my visits through prayer – before, during and after – that the Spirit might guide us?
Lord Jesus, I pray that I may get out of the way today and let you lead me where you will. Let me seek the wisdom of those to whom I minister and share with them the gifts with which you bless me. Let me witness to your Word Lord through my words, my actions, and my love. Let humility wash over me as it washed over you, and grace me with total trust in your will. Let the waters of my baptism cleanse me and prepare me that I may be sufficient in service to you. We pray all of this in your name.
December 15 – Third Sunday of Advent
Our second reading this week come from the Letter of James and counsels us to patience. “Be patient…see how the farmer waits…do not complain about one another…take as an example the hardship and patience…the prophets.” Like the farmer who waits for the harvest – sometimes for longer than he would like – we too must wait, but with the assurance that God does provide us what we need. It may not always be in the way or time we would like but He is always faithful and provides for us. Secondly, we need to be patient with one another, not judging and always acting with mercy, compassion and forgiveness. Finally, we need to be patient as the prophets were, enduring the hardship, the scorn and the ridicule that sometimes comes with the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ. Many have suffered greatly but we all rest in the assurance of God’s faithfulness and the hope of His coming and salvation.
As Vincentians, our patience is sometimes tested. It is hard to see where help is coming from, or how we will overcome the challenges some are confronted with. Prayer and patience of the cornerstones of working through many of the situations we face. We need to be patient with the mistakes our neighbors have made and decisions we may not agree with. Likewise, we need to be patient with each other and cautious not to be judgmental. Our ministry can be quite challenging at times, causing us or our neighbors to suffer emotionally, financially and otherwise. Do I exercise the patience, humility and trust needed to persevere? Do I have confidence answers will come? Do I offer understanding, tolerance and hope in the face of adversity and tension? Do I see my suffering – and that of my neighbors – as being connected to the suffering of Christ?
Lord Jesus, grant me patience, tolerance, forgiveness and mercy that I might reflect your love out to those I minister to. Allow their presence, their humanness and frailties, their vulnerabilities and their failures to help me to see in them the very same in myself. Allow them to see in me your face, your love, your sacrifice and your hope for the future. Allow this Advent season to be transformational for me as a Vincentian and for those whom you bring before me as children of God. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
December 8 – Second Sunday of Advent
December 9 – Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
“We who are strong ought to put up with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please our neighbor for the good, for building up.” These words from St. Paul to the Romans are the lead in to our second reading today. St. Paul is speaking to the Gentile and Jewish Christians, but he is also speaking to us. We who are blest (the strong) are called not just to help those who are vulnerable (the weak) but to put up with or tolerate their failings. Just as Jesus did, and does, tolerate our failings again and again, we must do the same for others. We need to prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ by opening our hearts to let love, mercy and compassion overwhelm it and flow through all our actions. It is in this way that we build up the kingdom of God through Jesus Christ.
As Vincentians, our vocation calls us in a particular way to participate in this building up. Our ministry calls us to move beyond simply helping for our convenience. In the face of failure, we are called to return again and again with patience, tolerance and mercy. Through our endurance and encouragement, we help to bring hope to others as well as ourselves. This is where sympathy moves to compassion, moves to mercy moves to holiness. Do I minister with patience and tolerance? Do I stand in judgement of others, or do I offer mercy as Jesus offers mercy to me? Do I reflect the love of Christ, a love laced with compassion, which He has given to me?
Lord Jesus, grant me patience, tolerance, forgiveness and mercy that I might reflect your love out to those I minister to. Allow their presence, their humanness and frailties, their vulnerabilities and their failures to help me to see in them the very same in myself. Allow them to see in me your face, your love, your sacrifice and your hope for the future. Allow this Advent season to be transformational for me as a Vincentian and for those whom you bring before me as children of God. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
December 1 – First Sunday of Advent
November 28 – Thanksgiving Day
We begin again! It is the cycle of the church. Every year we get a fresh start. In Advent, we look forward with great hope and anticipation for what is to come – the promises of the future. No matter what we have done – how well or how bad – we have an opportunity to start again – fresh – and through no merit of our own. We enter Advent with Thanksgiving on our hearts and minds – thanksgiving for all that God has blessed us with and the hope that He gives us. Our readings this week remind us to take hold of this hope by being earnest in our preparations for the ‘coming of the Son of Man.’ We are to put on our Lord Jesus Christ. Through the Coming of God Incarnate in Jesus His Son, we are giving the model to follow for our lives. Through His mercy He is ever present and available to us. Through the Liturgy of the Eucharist, God invites us into the greatest Thanksgiving of all, giving us the nourishment of Christ himself to prepare us for eternal salvation.
As Vincentians, we are confronted with the neighbors who struggle to succeed. Some we see with frequency and we wonder if they are really trying. In Advent, we are reminded of the importance of mercy and continually offering our help and support to those in need. We are called to provide them with the support and guidance to prepare for their future and to make them future a future of hope. We must set our judgements to the side and continually make available the opportunity to start anew for those who desire it. Do I set my judgments aside, acting always with mercy and compassion? Do I embrace in humility the opportunities God gives to me to be merciful to others?
What I am forever grateful for this Thanksgiving, is that our Lord’s grace and mercy toward me is infinitely greater than mine is toward others at times, and that His mercy even makes up for the shortcomings of my own. I pray each day that He may instill in me a greater sense of that mercy through our Vincentian work.
Lord Jesus, thank you for the grace of new opportunities. ‘Remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Shower your mercy upon me that I might grow in humility, recognizing your presence and goodness in every person you bring into my life. Give me the strength to extend forgiveness, mercy and love to all others. Allow me the grace to extend to others love and mercy in the fashion you shower it upon me. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
November 24 – Our Lord, Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
This Sunday brings an end to our liturgical year. We will begin anew in preparation for the coming of salvation to the world through the birth of our Lord Jesus. Before we do though, we are reminded that our King is a different kind of king. Jesus has been a model, a teacher, a brother and a friend. But He is most importantly our King, our Lord and our Savior. St. Paul’s letter calls us to give thanks because God has made us inheritors of the kingdom of heaven through His mercy and sacrifice. Jesus is a king who dies for his servants rather than one who has his servants die for him. He does not display his power but rather his mercy. He does not ask to be served but rather offers himself in service. He has no expectation of repayment, although he pays the ultimate price. His interest is not in saving himself but rather saving each of us! We join with the good thief in praying “Jesus remember me, when you come into your kingdom.”
As Vincentians, we seek a unity with Jesus through our ministry to the poor and vulnerable, recognizing that it is in relationship forged through humility, faith and compassion that Jesus is most readily found. Like Jesus, we need to display mercy and not power. We need to offer ourselves in service. We need to have no expectation of thanks or repayment for that which we do. For our service is offered in thanksgiving for what Jesus has done for us. Do I seek to bring the mercy and compassion of Jesus to all I encounter? Am I willing to sacrifice for others? Do I seek God’s will in all decisions, and offer my service in humility and gratitude?
Lord Jesus, you are the King of kings! You gave yourself that I might have salvation. Give me the grace to offer mercy as you did. Instill in me the charity of heart and action that others might see your presence in all I do. Allow my service to be an offering of gratitude and praise for your great glory. “Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom.” We pray all of this in your name. Amen
November 10 – Thirty-third Sunday Ordinary Time
Our readings look to the end times but address our behaviors in the here and now. We are to be faithful, diligent and persistent. It is important that we engage fully in society today, being productive and engaging in work that we not be burdens to others. We should act with the confidence of what is to come, but the wisdom and persistence to recognize and follow truth even in the face of persecution. Our confidence comes from trust in God and a willingness to accept and embrace our crosses of those challenges which come into our lives. The readings bring out the importance of the dignity of work, both for ourselves and for others. It is through work and perseverance that we connect to both our crosses and the hope of the future.
As Vincentians, it reminds us of an important aspect of discernment. We need to help our neighbors in need but not to the point of enabling. Our objective should always be to restore dignity and hope by giving a hand up and not simply a handout. Our objective is not to create or enable continued dependence on us. Sometimes the answer needs to be no to continued assistance but yes to encouragement and support. It takes discernment, patience and honesty (simplicity) in some instances to help our neighbors (and ourselves) to understand what is truly needed. Do I properly discern what is most needed for those whom God brings before me? Do I approach them in humility, but with honesty and patience when what they are asking for is not what they most need? Do I provide true help, or do I simply enable?
Lord Jesus, help give me the grace to enter into discernment of your will for those who come to me for assistance. Give me the wisdom to see what their true needs are that I might help them properly. Help me to always seek to restore dignity and hope to those in need that they might find their way back to productivity and faithfulness. Help me to grow in the virtue of simplicity and patience. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
November 10 – Thirty-second Sunday Ordinary Time
Our readings this week are about belief and hope. Belief in what we have been taught and hope in the resurrection. Our hope is based on a deep faith and trust in a loving God as the Source and Goal of all living. It is a confidence of one day experiencing something which is at present beyond our grasp. Paul tells us throughout his letters the importance of preparing for this time. He says in the second reading: “We are confident that what we instruct you, you are doing and will continue to do.” What we are instructed to do is to follow Jesus in faith and total trust, accepting what he gives us and calls us to. Perseverance, trust and steadfastness are the cornerstones of our belief.
If we truly believe that the resurrection – which God gave to us as the ultimate reflection of his love for us – is our hope for eternity, then his other teachings – which we receive through the Liturgy of the Word – provide the doorway through which we realize that hope. And the very being of Jesus – which we receive every time we celebrate the Eucharist – connects us completely to that hope driving us to a response which prepares us for the reality to come. We realize the hope of the resurrection through the choices we make in this life.
As Vincentians, as we confront difficult challenges in our own lives and the lives of others, we continually face the questions – Do you believe, do we trust, do we have hope? How faithful are you to God and His will for us and others? How do you honor our beliefs and live them out in daily life? Do you serve the poor without prejudice or judgement? Do you find yourself able to look past the injustices of this world to the mercy of heaven? Do you find yourself embracing those you serve in love? The answer to these questions may be your best indicator of how fully you believe in the hope of the resurrection.
Lord Jesus, help my unbelief that I may come to believe, that I may come to trust, and that I may come to submit fully to your will for my life and others. Allow me to share your love with all those I meet without judgement or prejudice. Let mercy be my guide that it may also be my salvation. Give me the grace and courage to embrace your hope and to be a reflection of that hope to those you bring before me. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
November 3 – Thirty-first Sunday Ordinary Time
“You have mercy on all because you can do all things.” Our first reading this week from the book of Wisdom presents God’s mercy and compassion more clearly than perhaps any place in the Old Testament. In these passages we hear about the gentleness and patience and generosity of a loving and merciful God. It points to the mercy Jesus shows in the gospels. For the second week in a row, he shows mercy to a tax collector – the group of perhaps the ‘greatest sinners’ of the day. But Jesus takes his mercy even further this week with Zacchaeus, expressing his desire to eat at his house. This was a sign of friendship and even intimacy. Jesus wants to be in Zacchaeus’ life despite his sins and shortcomings. Jesus has great patience and overwhelming mercy just as he did with the prostitute and so many others. As we all come to Jesus as repentant sinners, he replaces our guilt and shame with love and mercy that heals our wounds.
As Vincentians, we are called to be merciful as the Father is merciful. Not only are we called to be merciful though, we are called to seek out those who are hurting and in need of mercy, approaching them with patience, kindness, gentleness and generosity. We are to seek friendship that they may find the hope and healing that comes through merciful love. Do I offer the mercy of Christ to all those I encounter with patience and kindness? Do I seek out those who are hurting the most that I might help them to find the hope of Jesus Christ?
Lord Jesus, be merciful to me, a sinner! Give me the grace to accept your mercy and to repent of my sinfulness. Help me to find the patience and gentleness as I encounter others that allows them to feel your loving presence. Make me a vessel of your mercy and compassion that others may find hope and healing. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
October 27 – Thirtieth Sunday Ordinary Time
In our gospel this week we hear the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector – both of whom come to the temple to pray. The Pharisee thanks God for not making him like the rest of humanity, and reminds him of all the good things he does. The tax collector prays with humility, asking for mercy as a sinner.”
Each of us has a choice to make every time we come to God in prayer. Will we be like the Pharisee, giving thanks for all the blessings we have, and ‘remember’ our obedience to God and all that we do for Him? Or will we be like the tax collector – coming in humility and asking for mercy for our sinfulness? Truth be told, I suspect we all have some of the Pharisee in us – I know I do.
As Vincentians, we do many good works. We are generous. We are kind. And we are hopefully patient. But it is easy to sometimes forget that what we do is by the grace of God. Sometimes it is easy to become judgmental. This is why our prayerful reflection with each other, about our visits with those we serve, are so important. It is here that we search out how Christ was present in them and manifested himself to us through them. It is here that we recognize our pride that gets in the way and that we work to wash that pride away by growing in humility. It is through the poor that God gifts us with humility, if we will be present to them and to Him.
How have your encounters with those in need helped you to pray more like the tax collector and less like the Pharisee?
Lord Jesus, we thank you for the gift and grace of the vocation you have called us to. Lord, help me to recognize your presence in all those you bring before me. Help me to be present – without judgement – to those in need. Help me to learn humility and faith through their example before me. Be merciful to me, a sinner! We pray all of this in your name. Amen
October 20 – Twenty-ninth Sunday Ordinary Time
Our readings this week call us to prayer, to persistence, to the truth of scripture and the Church, and to faithfulness to God’s Divine Providence. All of these tie together, and are grounded first in our understanding of scripture and Church teaching, recognizing what is true and right. This allows us to understand God’s will for us (Divine Providence) when we pray. Our payer needs to be persistent and not simply convenient. When we pray, seeking God’s will rather than our own, and we pray with persistence, we trust in the presence of the Spirit and the hope of our Lord.
As Vincentians, we must carry both the simplicity of the truth of faith with us when we minister to our neighbors in need, as well as a persistence and patience in prayer that seeks God’s will and justice in all situations. Our faith and trust in God, shown through humility and mercy, is the greatest gift we give to others. Do I prayer before, during and after every home visit? Do I truly trust in God, seeking His will in all things rather than trying to convince Him of the importance of my request? Do I look to understand God’s will by first understanding His teachings that I might know Him? Am I patient and persistent in my prayer, offering it in truth and seeking truth in return?
Lord Jesus, increase my understanding of your Word. Allow me the grace to remain faithful to your teachings, seeking always to accept and embrace your will for me and others. Give me the strength to remain steadfast in my prayers seeking your will not mine. Allow me to join my prayers to those of my neighbors that together we may strengthen each other in seeking and accepting your will. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
October 13 – Twenty-eighth Sunday Ordinary Time
“Stand up and go, your faith has saved you!” We hear the story of ten lepers cured, nine of whom failed to return to give thanks. Why did they not return? We don’t know. Perhaps they were angry they were sick in the first place. Maybe they weren’t sure they were healed permanently. Maybe they were coming but had not made it back yet. It is easy to get wrapped up in wondering about the nine when our focus should be on the one. When we focus on the nine, we fall into the very trap they fell into – failure to have gratitude for the blessings which are bestowed upon us; recognizing where all those blessings come from.
As Vincentians, we are often times confronted with a neighbor who does not show gratitude for the help they have received. We don’t know why they do not show the gratitude. There may be any number of reasons or hurts they are dealing with. We need to pray for them. We need to be thankful and rejoice for and with those who do show gratitude. Most of all, we need to be thankful for the blessings God has bestowed upon us, the grace he gives us to share those blessings and the healing he does in our lives. Each time we come to receive the sacraments of Penance and Eucharist, we are cleaned, healed and nourished by our Lord. As we minister to others, we should do so with faith that God will lead us in the right decisions. We must recognize that the good we do is a gift from God to us. How often do we remember to give thanks for these opportunities to be his healing hands to others who in turn heal our sores as well? Do I show gratitude for the many blessings in my life? Do I focus more on those who do not say thanks or those who do?
Lord Jesus, increase my awareness of your loving actions in our lives which allow me to minister to others. Increase my willingness to submit to your guidance in the actions I take in ministry. Let me seek that guidance through prayer and discernment. Let me call out to you in faith as the lepers did. Let me move forward in faith. And let me return to you in thanksgiving for the directions you lead me in. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
October 6 – Twenty-seventh Sunday Ordinary Time
In our first reading we hear words of frustration and hopelessness – “How long O Lord, I cry for help”. How often has each of us felt frustration such as this? But God says to the prophet and to us later in this book, trust me – I have this! I have the answer, but you must have faith! I’ve got a plan! A clear vision of the future.” In the gospel, the apostles ask Jesus to increase their faith. But increasing faith is what WE must do for ourselves. St. Pope John Paul II said that “Suffering is an invitation to be like the Son by doing the will of the Father.” Through suffering our faith grows and we are connected to the cross of Jesus. Our blindness to His presence during our difficult times makes him no less present. But the strength of our faith during those times makes us more present and trusting in Him. We are to listen for the Lord, be patient and be faithful, and trust in his plan…and be careful when we hear His voice not to harden our hearts.
As Vincentians, we deal with so much adversity and see hopelessness and despair. The greatest gift we carry to those in need is the gift of faith and hope. We are to carry the answer of God to those in need – do not despair! Trust in the Lord always! Listen for His voice! St Vincent modeled throughout his life strength in overcoming adversity by trusting in God’s plan and being His instrument of hope to those who are hopeless. When faced with adversity for myself and others, do I turn to God in faith, seeking His will in all things? Do I trust fully that He will provide me the answers? Am I the face of despair or the face of hope?
Lord Jesus, in our humanity we can feel the frustration and the anger of Habakkuk. We too cry out from time to time as we do not see nor understand your plan for ourselves and so many in suffering. Give us the courage to increase in faith by embracing suffering and hardships. Sustain us in your love that we may come to accept your will especially when we do not understand. Let our doubt and our fear be replaced by your certain hope, with faith and trust in your desire that we all be enveloped in your loving embrace. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
September 22 – Twenty-fifth Sunday Ordinary Time
September 27 – Feast of St. Vincent de Paul
This month we celebrate the feast days of our founder Frederic on September 9 and our patron St. Vincent on September 27. Frederic, along with a group of friends sought to grow in holiness by the activation of their faith. They were instructed to seek spiritual guidance in their ministry. They met as friends to discuss and debate their actions and how it helped them to grow spiritually. They wished to live the gospel values, growing in relationship to one another and to those they ministered to. They were guided by the wisdom of St. Vincent de Paul, who recognized that growth in holiness came by growing closer to Christ – and Christ was to be found in the poor and those in need. And so he went to the poor – not for the poor but for Christ. He recognized that it was Jesus – God himself – who was the source of all goodness and all that he had. He sought fervently to grow in the virtues of humility, simplicity, gentleness, selflessness and zeal – particularly in humility. He sought submission to God in humility that we might come to trust completely in His Divine Providence. His wisdom and vision inspired Frederic to found the Society and to join the network of Vincentian organizations dedicated to holiness through care for the less fortunate.
As Vincentians, we join ourselves to Frederic and St. Vincent, accepting in humility the charism they hand on to us. We accept the Rule as our guiding principles, looking always to follow the Vincentian Pathway growing in holiness, living in friendship, and ministering to neighbors in need. We invite others to join us, but have a responsibility to communicate clearly and effectively the vocation to which we invite them. Likewise, we should constantly discern how God is speaking to us through the ministry we do. Am I more interested in helping the poor or growing spiritually? Do I embrace the virtue of humility, constantly seeking God’s will for me? Do I accept with zeal, obedience to the Rule, and the FULL Vincentian charism to which I am called as a vocation and way of life?
Lord Jesus, give me the grace to gladly accept all that you ask me to do. Grant that I might grow in humility so as to embrace all that you ask of me in SVdP. Help me to become part of a network of friends living gospel values for your glory! Together, let us open our hearts of mercy and compassion to those whom you bring before us. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
September 15 – Twenty-fourth Sunday Ordinary Time
Our readings this week speak to mercy and forgiveness. The scribes and Pharisees are angry that Jesus eats with sinners. Jesus responds with a parable that gives three examples of rejoicing over that which was lost but is now found. He challenges us to not focus on the errors of the past but rather on the victories of today. We should rejoice when someone finds their way forward and not judge them or condemn them for their past. And we should recognize that each person has great worth. God calls us to embrace each person for their true value as a reflection of God – just as He embraces each of us with overflowing love and mercy.
As Vincentians, we come face to face every day with individuals who are trying desperately to ‘find their way home.’ We should embrace them with total love and mercy, devoid of judgment of decisions they have made in the past. We work to seek out the poor that we might help them to move forward and that we might rejoice with them. We see in them the presence of God and the hope of His love. We should approach our work with great humility, recognizing that it is God who both graces us with the capacity to help and graces those we help with the capacity have hope. He gives us the opportunity to minister to and rejoice with our brothers and sisters one at a time. Do I humbly accept each ‘success’ as a gift from God and rejoice giving glory to Him for the opportunity to help and the hope that is shared? Do I look beyond the depth of poverty before me, to see the individual joys for the grace that they are?
Lord Jesus, help me to rejoice in the success of each person that we help. Allow me to focus on the victories one person at a time without judgment of past mistakes. Give me the passion to embrace each person in love and mercy, recognizing your presence within each individual. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
September 8 – Twenty-third Sunday Ordinary Time
On the surface our readings this weekend appear to be almost anti-Christian as they imply we must hate our mother and father, sister and brother. The point Jesus is making though is that we must let nothing stand in the way of our following Jesus if we wish to be his disciple. His call is not to hate our parents, but to hate anything which stands in the way of our listening to and following His call. We must not allow the insignificant events of our lives, the desires and distractions we are all drawn to, to cause us to lose our focus. We must not only be vigilant, but we must also be intentional in our desire to follow Jesus.
As Vincentians, we sometimes find ourselves confronted by situations and people who create challenges for us. Jesus challenges us to seek His will in all cases, and to be obedient to His will even when it is not comfortable or convenient. It is only through patience, prayer and humility that we are able to continually move forward to grow in holiness by discerning and following His will in all circumstances. Do I seek God’s will in all things? Do I accept that which Jesus calls me to, even when it is uncomfortable? Does my love for Jesus transcend all else in my life?
Lord Jesus, give me the courage to seek only your will in my life. Allow me to humbly submit to you, even when I am drawn in other directions. Help me to diminish in my own desires that I might increase in my complete love for you. Give me the grace and humility to set myself to the side so that I might be your disciple in all things. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
September 1 – Twenty-second Sunday Ordinary Time
Our readings this week are all about the virtue of humility. We are all called to humility by God. We must take care not to exalt ourselves – or claim a higher place than others – and we should take care to exalt or elevate others – especially those who are in need. Humility calls us to a strength of character to set ourselves to the side in deference to others – and most importantly, to the will of God. In humility, we seek the will of God for us in all things recognizing that it is only by and through God’s will that we are able to do anything.
As Vincentians, we are called specifically to a charism to care for those in need. God graces us with the privilege to be His instruments in bringing peace and hope to those who He brings before us. He blesses us with the opportunity to grow in holiness by growing in humility through our service to the poor. When we embrace them in love and compassion, we embrace Him. Do I truly seek His will in humility, welcoming all challenges he brings to me? Do I exalt the poor and those in need, seeing in them the presence of Christ? Do I place their needs before my needs?
Lord Jesus, give me the humility to trust in you and to see your presence in those you bring to us. Help me to exalt others and their needs above my own. Allow me to honor you and glorify you by my obedience to your will for me. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
From the Deacon’s Desk: Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts
August 25 – Twenty-first Sunday Ordinary Time
“I am the way, the truth and the life, says the Lord; no one comes to the Father except through me!” Jesus tells us this week that some who are last will be first and some who are first will be last. He tells us the gate is narrow. Getting to heaven is not as easy as simply saying you believe. Yes, we need to believe in the “Truth” of Jesus. But we also need to adopt His way and His life to follow that truth. We all can complain from time to time like the Hebrews did about how hard the life of Jesus is. Discipleship is not easy. It requires effort and persistence on our part to stay strong and keep having “drooping hands and weak knees.”
As Vincentians, our primary purpose is to develop our spirituality and holiness. We adopt a way of life that takes us to the heart of Jesus – with the poor and suffering – that we might imitate the compassion and mercy of Jesus. We seek a virtuous way of life that allows us to develop the fortitude to stay true to our Lord, living the truth in His way, following in His footsteps. Do I approach each day seeking to live as Christ did? Do I strive to grow in humility by seeking and embracing God’s will for me? Do I trust in His Divine Providence?
Lord Jesus, give me the courage and the strength to follow in your footsteps. Help me to choose the narrow gate, that I may approach the kingdom of heaven giving glory to God. Help me to embrace those in need as you did in mercy and charity. Give me the humility to trust in you and to see your presence in those you bring to us. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
August 18 – Twentieth Sunday Ordinary Time
“I have come to set the earth on fire!…Do you think that I have come to establish peace on earth? No I tell you, but rather division!” In case there was any doubt, Jesus makes it clear that he is here to create a new direction for humanity and it won’t be a comfortable ride. St. Paul indicates in the second reading that we look to the great cloud of witnesses – the prophets, the martyrs and all the saints – as examples and support in our endeavor to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, embracing the change to come and allowing our hearts to be set on fire. Jesus invites each of us to join in his mission of passion, love and mercy, rooting out sin and darkness, to replace them with hope and joy.
Saint Vincent is our model as Vincentians. He invites us to embrace the mission of Christ by embracing those in need, helping them to find hope in the future by making Christ present and visible to them today. St. Vincent said, “So, our vocation is to go … to set people’s hearts on fire, to do what the Son of God did. He came to set the world on fire in order to inflame it with His love.” We are both the carriers and the recipients of the flame of Christ. When we become infected by His love, we grow in holiness and share that love out broadly. Do I allow myself to embrace the passion of Christ in humility? Do I carry that fire into the world, fighting for those who are in need with zeal? Is truth and justice more important to me than being comfortable and not rocking the boat? Will I stand up for Christ as Christ stood up for me?
Lord Jesus, help me to embrace the fire of your love. Help me to be an instrument of your disruption of discrimination, prejudice and injustice in the world. Allow me to be a Voice of the Poor acting with zeal and passion. Give me the grace to submit humbly to all that you ask of me that I might be a light shining forth with your goodness and love. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
August 11 – Nineteenth Sunday Ordinary Time
“Stay awake and be ready! For you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” Our gospel acclamation captures the warning of the message in our readings this week. Tragic events over the past weekend in El Paso and Dayton make the reality of that warning both personal and real. None of us is assured tomorrow. Our earthly life can be taken at any moment – by violence, by a tragic accident, by an act of nature or by a failure of health. Suffering and sacrifice are part and parcel of our faith. Often, like this past weekend, it is difficult for us to make sense of the suffering. It is faith that allows us to endure all that we must for God. The faith of Abraham that St. Paul describes in our second reading. A faith that believes in the hope and promise of God even when that promise is not visible to us. It is a faith born out of love and trust, girded by humility and acceptance of God’s plan, and fueled by passion and hope for the future. Faith gives us hope when all us seems to have failed.
As Vincentian’s, each day we are called to grow in holiness and as such to grow in faith. We are carriers of that faith to all we encounter including one another and those to whom we minister. Our actions and words become the evidence of God’s presence among us. More than anything, it is faith, hope and trust which we share with others through the love of Christ. Do I help others to find hope even in the darkest of times? Do my actions convey a trust in God’s plan for each of us? Does my humility convey a willingness to accept all that we are asked to endure?
Lord Jesus, help me to accept suffering as Christ accepted the suffering and pain of my sins. Give me the humility to accept your will, your plan for me and those around me even when I don’t understand, even when it hurts. Give me the trust and conviction of Abraham. Help me to grow in my faith and holiness particularly when times seem dark. Allow me to see the light of hope to carry me forward. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
August 4 – Eighteenth Sunday Ordinary Time
“Vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!” How close to home does this hit for us? Our society teaches us the importance of possessions and the need to pursue them for both our desires and our ‘security.’ Both our first reading and our gospel point to the foolishness of pursuit of earthly riches. Jesus tells us in the gospel this parable of the rich fool, that our possessions and accomplishments will not benefit us on judgment day – particularly if they get in the way of doing God’s will. When we get wrapped up in our pursuit of earthly treasures, we lose sight of the heavenly ones. We spend our time preparing for our future – our retirement, when the reality is that our true focus should be on our eternal future – our salvation.
As Vincentians, we are constantly dealing with people who have no possession to speak of, and little hope of gaining many. The “Hidden Rules” of poverty teach us that people in poverty value people and relationships as their possessions. Often, faith is all they have left and growing in their relationship with God gains greater meaning. These readings seem to point to the wisdom of valuing people and relationships more than our ‘earthly possessions’ of things. When I minister to those in poverty, do I see the wisdom of valuing people, relationships and spirituality that they can teach me? Do I sometimes allow my desire for material riches to outweigh my desire for spiritual riches?
Lord Jesus, help me to keep my focus always on you. Help me to grow in the virtue of simplicity, not desiring those things which get in the way of keeping my gaze on you. Through those I minister to, allow me to see the value of spiritual riches, and relationship to you through relationships with others. Help me to never lose sight of what is truly important in life for me and for those to whom I minister. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
July 28 – Seventeenth Sunday Ordinary Time
“Lord, teach us to pray.” Jesus can be constantly found in prayer throughout his ministry. Seeing this, the apostles sought to learn how to properly pray. His gift to them and to us is the Our Father. It is a prayer which offers praise to God, gives glory to who He is, and properly makes requests. Prayer must be at the forefront of each of our lives. Authentic prayer recognizes who Jesus is and submits humbly to His will. It recognizes that it is only through His will that we are able to accomplish anything as He is the source of all goodness.
As Vincentians, prayer is essential to guide us to right decisions and to avoid burnout. Without prayer, we can easily be overwhelmed by the need before us. Prayer must be in all things we do. Especially as we visit our neighbors in need, we need to pray before during and after each visit. Do I pray before during and after home visits? Do I pray as Jesus taught us to begin the day and end the day, giving him praise and seeking His will?
Lord Jesus, teach me to pray. Give me the humility to understand that you are the source of all that I need. Help me seek your will for myself and for our neighbors in need. Help me to embrace that which you place before me with boldness and passion. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
July 21 – Sixteenth Sunday Ordinary Time
We hear this week the familiar story of Martha and Mary when Jesus comes to visit. Martha works hard to prepare everything and make things nice for the Lord. Mary spends her time at the feet of the Lord listening to him. Who has the better part? Martha the servant or Mary? Jesus tells Martha Mary has the better part. He is not suggesting we should not serve others or care for others. But he is saying we should not lose sight of our need to place ourselves in the presence of the Lord, seeking his will for us in all things. When we become too focused on doing good, we can lose sight of the source of all goodness.
As Vincentians, many of us are drawn to SVdP out of a deep desire to help others. St. Vincent reminds us that the poor are our masters and we are their servants. They are our masters not because of who they are, but because of Jesus’ mercy and compassion for them, and His desire that we care for them. It is easy for us to get out of balance, becoming totally focused on providing service to others. We can become like Martha, losing sight of the source of our goodness and the reason for our service. We need to keep a balance by spending time at the feet of the Lord being present to His will for us. Do I spend time in prayer every day? Do I receive the Eucharist with frequency? Do I spend time in adoration? Do I pray before, during and after each home visit?
Lord Jesus, thank you for the grace of your presence in my life. Help me to take time to sit in your presence, listening for your will in my life. Help me to spend time in prayer and adoration before you, seeking always to know and do your will. Let my service be in response to my love for you. Let me come humbly to you seeking always to be your servant and your presence in the life of those you bring before me. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
July 14 – Fifteenth Sunday Ordinary Time
We hear the story of the Good Samaritan this week – one of the most familiar in all the gospels. It comes in response to the question from the scholar of “Who is my neighbor?” after Jesus gives him what we know to be the ‘most important commandment’ – “love God…and love your neighbor as yourself.” The reading gives us two questions to contemplate. First, who I am in this story – the priest, the Levite or the Samaritan? It is easy to say the Samaritan for we certainly would like to be. But am I? Or do I hesitate to help someone in need because I am too busy, or I am concerned for my safety, or it might be too big of a challenge, or any of a myriad of other reasons? Have I gone on the other side of the street – or rolled my car window up – to avoid being confronted with potential need? The second question relates to “who is my neighbor?” Does it make a difference who is asking for or in need of the help? Is it only those I like, or is it those who Christ brings into my life?
As Vincentians, we are called to minister to all whom Christ brings before us. We are not to judge how worthy or unworthy they are to receive help. Do I set aside my prejudices especially when the person in need is different than me? Do I base my help on how much I like them? Do I make myself available to help others when they need help, or do I insist on helping only when I have time?
Lord Jesus, help me to see those who are in need whom you bring before me. Allow me to be open to their needs. Help me to set aside my schedule and my needs that I may tend to the needs of others. Allow me to be like the Good Samaritan who brings your love to others. Stripe away my impatience, my fears, my prejudices and my pride leaving me to humbly serve in your name with kindness, generosity and compassion. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
July 7 – Fourteenth Sunday Ordinary Time
“Peace be to this household.” This is the greeting Jesus calls the 72 he sent out to extend to others in our gospel. WE ARE THE 72! You and I as followers of Christ through our baptism and confirmation. St. Paul wishes “peace and mercy” to all who follow his instruction to boast only in the cross of Christ. We do this when we work with the will of God. Throughout our Liturgy of the Mass we pray for peace, hear continually about peace, extend a sign of peace to one another, and remove the biggest enemy of peace – sin itself – in the very sacrifice of the mass and celebration of the Eucharist. For Christ himself is the source of all peace. Not just peace from war, but comfort and security, kindness and mercy, peace which fosters generosity, cooperation, joy and hope.
As Vincentians, we are called to bring this peace in a special way to our neighbors in need AND to one another. Do I bring comfort and hope to those I minister to? Do I participate in the friendship and community of my Vincentian family, through the actions I take and the attitudes I have? Do I nourish myself from the source of all peace frequently, that His peace might flow into my heart and through me out to others?
Lord Jesus, you are my peace! Help me to boast only in your cross. Help me to embrace your cross with passion and zeal. Help me to be an instrument of your peace, bringing comfort, mercy and hope to all I encounter. Help me to embrace and reflect a spirit of friendship within my Vincentian family that I may be a conduit of your peace. In humility, help me to always seek only your will that I might follow that will with zeal and passion. I pray all of this in your name. Amen
June 30– Thirteenth Sunday Ordinary Time
Jesus is on a mission and not everyone is happy with what he has to say. He is heading toward his final destiny on earth. Along the way challenges will come for both him and his followers. Many follow Jesus when things are good but fall away when times get difficult. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Galatians that our ‘freedom’ in Christ also calls us to be focused in our behaviors. We must be mindful of the challenges that are to come staying true to our faith and Christ’s call to us.
As Vincentians, we too can sometimes lose our focus, forgetting that we must always serve one another through love as Paul tell us. We lose sight of Jesus as the source of all goodness. We can forget the importance of seeking His will through our prayer for both ourselves and our neighbors. We must be guided by the Spirit in all that we do. Do I stay faithful to God’s will in all situations, even when challenges occur? Are prayer, humility and truth the cornerstones of my ministry each and every day? Do I help to illuminate God’s presence to my neighbors in need even when it is difficult to see?
Lord Jesus, you are my inheritance. Help me always to listen for your will, following where you may lead me. Grant that I may never waiver in my desire for prayer – constant communication – with you. Allow me to be a true messenger of your love through both my words and deeds. Lift me up when challenges come that a may always focus my gaze only on you. I pray all of this in your name. Amen
June 23 – Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi Sunday)
Do you believe in miracles? This week we celebrate the greatest miracle of all time – when Jesus makes himself present to us through the transformation of bread and wine into his Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, to be with us in the most intimate way. This miracle happens every time we go to mass, and so often we look right past it. Jesus uses miracles to reveal his divine power to us and to show his infinite mercy. While this miracle tops them all, there certainly are other miracles which happen in our lives and the lives of others. Some are big – perhaps a healing of amazing proportions – and some are small. The question is, ‘Are we open to seeing the miraculous graces God bestows in our lives or the lives of others?’
As Vincentians, we should continually pray for God’s mercy and intervention into the lives of those we minister to, those we serve with, and those who are in need (including ourselves). We bring hope to those we serve precisely because of God’s mercy. We should be bastions of that hope understanding that through persistence in prayer, submission of will and faithfulness to our Lord, all things are possible. We need to keep our eyes open to see the moments when God’s mercy graces a situation with miraculous intervention, whether large or small. We should rejoice in those moments and give praise and glory to God. Do we take the time to see and appreciate the grace of God in all situations?
God, your Son revealed to us your glory and mercy through the use of miracles that we might see and believe. He comes to us through the miracle of the Eucharist. We pray that your mercy may be revealed to us and graced upon those who are in despair. Intercede that healing may come to those who are suffering and that your glory may be made known to them. Help me to be aware of your miraculous presence in the work we do. I pray all of this in your Son’s name. Amen
June 16 – Holy Trinity Sunday
This week we celebrate the mystery of the Trinity – the union of three persons in one. Father, Son and Holy Spirit all working together in total harmony. Each compliments the others. The three are inextricably linked. One does not act independent of the other two. Total alignment. St. Catherine Sienna says “The Father is the table. The Son is the food and the Spirit dwells within us.” The Spirit, without the Father and Son would have no purpose. The Spirit is the outpouring of love from the Father and the Son.
As Vincentians, we too have a trinity we embrace tightly along with the Holy Trinity. It is the Essential Elements of Spirituality, Friendship and Service. These three are also inextricably linked. Our spirituality provides a foundation firmly grounded in God’s love for us. Friendship gives us community and support which helps us to live out our spirituality through practical growth in our Vincentian Virtues. Service is the outpouring of love from our Spirituality and Friendship. Without our spirituality and Vincentian friendship, our service would have no purpose. Do I focus on growing in holiness and connecting in friendship? Is my service a consequence of my spirituality and friendship?
Lord Jesus, the unity, harmony and unconditional love of the Trinity is what I seek. Help me to grow in such love for my fellow Vincentians and for those to whom I minister. Grace me that my ministry may become a reflection of the Trinity. Help me to grow in holiness, in true and complete friendship and in compassionate caring for others. Grant that the service I provide may be an outpouring from my spirituality and friendship. I pray all of this in your name. Amen
June 9 – Pentecost Sunday
Potential blossoms into passionate performance!! Jesus has taught the apostles, he has given them both the example of his life as well as experiences in ministry, he has given them the plan for the future, and now he has equipped them with the inspiration and confidence of the Holy Spirit. They have been emboldened to take all that Jesus has given them, and they have gone out as He instructed them with confidence and passion.
As Vincentians, we have been gifted with the instruction and guidance of Vincent and Frederic. They have given us the Rule, the Manual, the Society, and the example of their lives to form us as Vincentians. They have given us the plan to grow in holiness and serve our neighbors in need. And we have been gifted and emblazoned with the Holy Spirit to walk with us as we journey forward. Do I accept the gifts that have been graced upon me by God? Do I embrace the ministry as a Vincentian being guided in all ways by the Rule and manual? Do I go out to my neighbors with confidence in God’s Providence and the presence of the Spirit the guide me? Do I realize my potential with passionate zeal emboldened by God’s presence in my life?
Lord Jesus, you have blest me with the Spirit as my guide, my advocate, my protector, and my strength. Help me to embrace the Spirit in my life and ministry. Help me to recognize the gifts and talents you have given to me that I may use them to the glory of your name. Let me be your vessel to bring the Good News to all those I meet, that they may come to know you and love you, and find their hope in you. I pray all of this in your name. Amen
June 2 – Ascension Sunday
Jesus finishes his ministry here on earth. He sees his apostles for the final time but assures them that they will have a new presence of God, the Holy Spirit to be with them and to guide them. He instructs them not to try and go forward without the Spirit. For their power and strength comes not from within them, but from God himself. In this, they take great joy! We too are called to recognize in humility that we are nothing without God. He is the source of any good which we are able to accomplish. Like the apostles, we should go forward with joy in our hearts for the gift which God has given to us.
As Vincentians, we need to always remember the importance of going first to God in prayer before all visits. It is from God, in the person of the Spirit that we receive the inspiration and guidance we need – the words to say and actions to take. Our joy and the joy of those to whom we minister, comes from the presence and hope of God seen in one another. Do I always go to prayer FIRST when ministering to others? Do I recognize that it is only through God that I can be effective? Do I seek and reflect both His guidance and His joy in all I do?
Lord Jesus Christ, give me your Spirit that I might have the courage and wisdom to make your presence known. Let me always walk in humility seeking your will through prayer. Help me to listen intently with a willing Spirit to go where you lead me. Allow me the grace to go forth with great joy, rejoicing in the gifts you have given me. I pray all of this in your name. Amen
May 26 – Sixth Sunday of Easter
In our first reading from Acts we see the apostles finding the need to have structure and rules around who teaches and how for the church. Some have gone out ‘without a mandate’ upsetting people with their teachings. Through the history of the Church, we have seen the wisdom in having a teaching authority and rules to guide that teaching. Ultimately, the teaching authority always emanates from one place – the Word of Jesus. This can only be responsibly passed on by continually seeking to embrace the wisdom and teachings of both Jesus and those church authorities who have gone before us. We should seek not to change understandings to meet our needs, but rather we should humbly seek to share only the truth as given to us by Christ.
As Vincentians, we too have teachings and wisdom which are given to us by Frederic, Vincent, and the Society through the Rule. It is important that we come to know our charism and how it helps and guides us to grow in holiness. It calls us first and foremost to humility; a humility to submit to the one Rule and to Divine Providence, trusting that God is in control. It calls us to submit to instruction through Ozanam Orientation, other trainings and most especially prayer and meditation, where we are led to a spirit to care for those in need. Do I place myself humbly before God, seeking His guidance and strength in caring for others? Do I submit to the Rule and the charism of SVdP, seeking friendship with others, offering service to neighbors in need, and bearing witness to Christ and His Church, growing each day in the five virtues of SVdP? Do I understand SVdP to be a vocation and way of life – not simply a volunteer opportunity?
Lord Jesus Christ, let me hear your call to my Vincentian way of life. Grant me the humility to place myself before you in prayerful submission to your will for my life. Allow me to embrace ministry to those whom you bring before me with loving compassion, gentleness, patience, kindness and zeal; seeing them as my master and I as their servant. Help me to be a part of the Vincentian network of charity which offers your hope to the world I pray all of this in your name. Amen
May 19 – Fifth Sunday of Easter
“I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” Our Gospel message is so straight forward and to the point! Love one another! No equivocation! No conditions! No qualifiers! Just love one another! At the end of the day this is the greatest need any of us has – to be loved! God made us for love. To love Him, to know Him, and to serve Him! We come to know Him through one another, for we are made in His image and He resides in each of us. We serve Him by serving one another, as He calls us to do in and through the gospels. We need to set aside our pride, our anger, our selfishness, our judgements and our fears. In their place we foster humility, patience, kindness, gentleness, forgiveness and compassion; for these are the places where we find God and His love for us.
As Vincentians, this is the very essence of who and what we are. We come to those who we find hurting and in need. First and foremost we are called to bring them the love of Christ, making His hope for them evident through the spirit we come in. We look for the presence of God in each person, recognizing that we too have many ‘poverties’ to overcome. Together, we life one another up glorifying God by our love for each other. Do I truly walk in humility, setting aside pride and judgement, that I may bring the hope and love of Christ to those whom I encounter?
Lord Jesus Christ, let me love as you have loved! Let me walk humbly, seeking your face in all I encounter. Let me embrace those who are in so much pain, so much need, so much uncertainty with the loving embrace of your presence, hope and mercy that they may be lifted into your light! If it be your will, allow me to be your vessel of love to another in need this day. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
May 12 – Fourth Sunday of Easter
“I am the good shepherd, says the Lord; I know my sheep, and mine know me.” “My sheep hear my voice…and they follow me.” Jesus is the Good shepherd always watching over his flock. A shepherd actually ‘leads’ from behind, allowing his sheep to find their way forward, but being always watchful that they do not stray too far. He guides them with the sound of his voice and the assurance of his presence. I suspect we could say the same things about mothers. They too allow their children to develop their own paths, but they are always ready to do whatever is needed when their children stray too far. A child (even a grown one) always knows the sound of his mother’s voice and is comforted by its presence. On this Mother’s Day, we honor both our earthly mothers and our heavenly shepherd.
As Vincentians, we are shepherds to those we minister to. They often look to us for both guidance and reassurance. Often, what they need more than anything is to know that we care, we are there, and we will not abandon them. Do I seek to be present to those who need me, or do I just want to ‘help’ and move on? Do I offer reassurance, patience, and support in my conversations? Do I seek to guide rather than control?
Lord Jesus, you are my Good Shepherd. Let me seek your voice in humility as I look to serve others, guiding them as they journey through the challenges in their lives. Help me to minister with patience and kindness, gently helping to identify the hope of the future. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
May 5 – Third Sunday of Easter
“Peter, do you love me? ‘Yes Lord, you know that I love you.’ Feed my sheep.” Jesus shows both his love and mercy to Peter – and to us. His only real question to us is “Do you love me?” If we do, then he asks that we care for one another. He knows that we will stumble and fall in our journey to love him and follow him. When we do, he patiently waits for us to rise and continue the journey. Surely if His mercy and forgiveness extends so deeply to those who abandoned him at his time of greatest need and suffering; it extends to us as well. He does not condemn nor ask for an apology. He asks only love – the love which he first gives to us.
As Vincentians, we are called to have the same patience, mercy and love. Especially when our neighbors in need may stumble, we must redouble our efforts to show our love and care for them. In so doing, we reflect the lights and joy of Christ that they might feel the warm embrace of his unending mercy. Do I act with patience when things go awry? Am I compassionate, not condemning, but reaching out even more when I am called to? Do I humbly seek to lift up those I minister to?
Lord Jesus, I do love you, I love you more than life itself. Help me to overcome my failings, offering myself completely to you. Give me courage to always seek your guidance, act according to your will, and offer myself in service only to you; present in those in need. Allow me to embrace the privilege of caring for the poor – my lord and master. Let me be your hands lifting them out of their despair. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
April 28 – Divine Mercy Sunday
“Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” It is a clarion call to have faith, to believe, even in the face of serious doubts. But here is Thomas, one of those closest to Jesus, who had to ‘see’ in order to come to belief. Can you really blame him? The disciples are hidden away out of fear. Their Messiah has been crucified and now here they are telling Thomas about Jesus coming back. I fear I would have had the doubts of Thomas. Sometimes even now for us – or certainly for me – faith can be hard. When we are hurting, or suffering, or things just are not going the way I think they should, the questions creep in and our faith is tested. But notice, Jesus is patient with Thomas and does show him His wounds that he might come to see and understand – and have faith. On this, Divine Mercy Sunday, Jesus is patient with us as well. He is well pleased with those who have total faith with no doubts, but is merciful to those who have doubts and continues to call us to Him in merciful love.
As Vincentians, we minister to those who are hurting and suffering in life. We look to grow in holiness by overcoming our own woundedness, fears and prejudices as we minister to others. We are the wounds of Christ that they may see His love and goodness through us and rejoice in the hope he brings them. In the strength of their faith, we are reminded of Christ’s call to us to live in faith even when it is difficult. Am I patient with those I minister to, as Christ is patient with me? Am I merciful to others as He is to me? Does their faith and woundedness help me to be strengthened in my faith and trust in God?
Lord Jesus, help me to overcome my doubts and fears, trusting always in your goodness, mercy and love. Allow me to be the wounds of your cross, which help strengthen the faith and hope of others. Help me to minister with patience and humility, always helping others to see you in all things. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
April 21 – Easter Sunday
Rejoice and be glad for this is the day the Lord has made!! This week is Holy Week. It is all about the Passion, death, AND resurrection of our Lord Jesus. That last part is most important – for without the resurrection, nothing else matters, and with the resurrection everything is possible. The passion and death on the cross make the resurrection possible. They also give meaning to the suffering we have in our lives. They connect the pain of the cross to the glory of the cross, for it is through the pain and suffering that we recognize the glory. I am saddened for those who have no faith, for their suffering then has no meaning, and the pain must be unbearable. As Catholics, we are called this week to immerse ourselves once again into the passion and suffering of Christ through our focus on the cross, that we might also join in the glory of the resurrection and our salvation – the victory of Christ over sin and death!
As Vincentians, we are called to see how our suffering and the suffering of those we minister to connect us all to the cross, which gives us the hope of the future. We are called to walk humbly in prayer and thanksgiving, rejoicing in the Lord through the way we live our lives and the way we care for others. Do I walk in humility in my ministry, reflecting the joy and hope of our Lord Jesus to all I encounter?
This week, our St. William conference lost a Vincentian – Mary Tom Clemons. Mary Tom was one of the original Vincentians when our conference starting in the early 2000’s. She served for eight years as Vice President until the fall of 2016. She has continually been one of our most faithful and compassionate home visitors. Within the church she was often affectionately referred to as “Sister Mary Tom”. She was not perfect – far from it – and she knew it. What she was though, was Vincentian through and through, even before she was a Vincentian. She has always been a woman of deep faith, a love for Christ and for the less fortunate, and had a heart far bigger then she would ever admit. She was a registered nurse spending the last 20 years of her work life working for the county health department. She knew many of those she served through SVdP through her previous work. Not unlike the rest of us, she complained about this or that, but at the end of the day, she only wanted all of those who were hurting to find help and the hope of Christ. She was never too busy to care or to help.
I suspect the vast majority of our conferences have a Mary Tom. They are a treasure because they show us the way forward in our relationship with God. They help us to see that it is not always easy, and never a straight line. They help us to understand that if we stay in prayer, walk in humility, and fix our gaze on Christ and those He brings before us, that we are on the right path. They teach us that our hope is in the Lord. Mary Tom and those like her provide us the path to follow in how we live our lives. Easter reminds us of the gift and grace God bestows upon us. Mary Tom was at peace with her destiny because she knew her destiny was unity with Christ. This week she joins Him as an honored guest at the Easter celebration. May she rest in peace at the heavenly banquet of the Lord.
Lord Jesus, grace me with humility that I might always walk in prayer, fixing my gaze squarely on you as I care for those you bring before me. Allow me to never be too busy to help those in need. Allow me to be a reflection of your light showing to all the hope and glory of your passion and resurrection. Help me to accept my sufferings with the joy of connectedness to your suffering that through your cross, I might embrace your glory. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
April 14 – Palm Sunday
“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” The words reverberate in the air. They are the words of an innocent and suffering person who does not understand and has, for the moment, lost all hope as we listen to them in Psalm 22. They are the final words of our Lord Jesus, as he takes on the full weight of all our sinfulness. Jesus always looked back to the teachings of the prophets and the psalms as he instructed and informed the present and the future. For one final time, in his final cry, he points to the Psalmist’s cry – and provides an answer. I do not abandon you – I save you, offer you redemption and eternal salvation. Jesus gives meaning to the suffering each of us endures – the crosses we must come to bear. It is the ultimate trust – all must be abandoned and turned over to God – control is out of our hands – and at that moment, we come to understand the immense love and mercy of God.
As Vincentians, I suspect we have all faced painful times in our lives when we have momentarily felt abandoned and had to bear crosses that may have felt unbearable. It is precisely at these times that God walks most closely with us. At the time, it is hard to see and understand, but over time, with the help of others, we come to see God’s mercy in our suffering. We provide that support, helping to carry the cross for those we minister to. It is through our eyes that they can begin to see the hope through the darkness. Am I prepared to sacrifice, to step into service as Simon the Cyrenian did, to help others to carry their crosses? Will they see through me the presence of God in their lives? Will they feel His mercy and compassion? Am I willing to share in their suffering as Jesus accepting mine?
Lord Jesus, help me to see your face, hear your voice and feel your presence in the darkness of my despair. Help me to humbly be your presence to others as they struggle. Give me the grace to accept all circumstances you place before me – both mine and those of others – that I follow your will as you would have me. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
April 7 – Fifth Sunday in Lent
This week we hear about the prostitute whom the Pharisees brought before Jesus. They were trying to trap him to give them reason to discredit him. Their motivation was not pure, but was driven by their pride, arrogance and envy. Jesus confronts them with truth, making them confront their own treachery. They try to use the law to establish their own righteousness. But Paul reminds us in our second reading that our righteousness comes not from the law but only from faith in Jesus. Once the Pharisees walk away, Jesus is left alone with the prostitute. He does not condemn her, but rather offers her mercy and new life by moving forward and sinning no more. Jesus has provided each of us clear guidance on how to live as well, but offer mercy to us in place of judgement when we sin. Paul tells us to walk away from the ‘rubbish’ of sin which is all loss, and to pursue maturity in Christ by following him.
As Vincentians, we are called to set aside our judgement of others as well, and to offer them mercy instead. We give guidance to them on choices that can help them to move forward, and we offer them the support we can to grasp those choices that they may find hope. We continually have to make choices about our resources available to us and how to best share those resources. We need to take care to have our choices born out of faith in Christ and guidance from the Spirit. Judgement of the ‘worthiness’ of this person or that should not be part of the consideration for all people are worthy in the eyes of Christ. Do I set my judgements aside and seek the guidance of Christ in all my interactions with those I minister to? Are prayer, humility and mercy my guideposts in ministry?
Lord Jesus, help me to set aside my judgements of others and situations. Give me the courage to stand up in mercy reaching out to others with the hope and compassion of Christ Jesus. Grace me with the humility to recognize that all I am and I do is only through the goodness and mercy of God’s love for me. Help me to use the gifts He gives to me in pursuit of perfect maturity in Christ by living only in the faith of Christ. I pray all of this in your name! Amen
March 31 – Fourth Sunday in Lent
This week we hear the story of the Prodigal Son. It is a story we are all familiar with and shows the great mercy of God and the importance of forgiveness. Sometimes forgotten is the reason Jesus told this parable. The scribes and Pharisees were complaining because Jesus was associating with and eating with tax collectors and sinners. This is a story not only about forgiveness, but also about who we forgive and associate with. One might say from the parable, it is easy to forgive your son – after all, he was the man’s own flesh and blood. The bigger takeaway from the point Jesus is making may be that we forgive even the ‘tax collectors’ and ‘sinners’. You see, we are all brothers and sisters in the human family and we are all sinners. We must forgive those who are not like us, and welcome them, even invite them into relationship with Christ. In fact, forgiveness of those who are different, and extending Christian friendship to them should be celebrated.
As Vincentians, we are called to minister to the poor, the vulnerable and all those in need. Many of them have made mistakes. Our forgiveness of them and acceptance of them may be the hope they need to recover and move forward. When we give them the gifts of mercy, forgiveness, understanding and kindness, they will give us the gift of humility and gratitude in return. Those are gifts we should pay attention to that we might grow in them as we strive to grow in holiness. Do I welcome relationship with those who I minister to, not only providing help, but providing Christian friendship, forgiveness, and acceptance? Do I celebrate with them in the victories over challenges in life? Do I seek to learn from their humility and gratitude?
Lord Jesus, give me the courage to not only offer help through ministry, but to also offer friendship, encouragement and understanding. Allow me to set me judgements aside and to extend an attitude of forgiveness and understanding. Help me to see the humility and gratitude in those I minister to, that I may extend that same attitude to you. I pray all of this in your name! Amen
March 24 – Third Sunday in Lent
“The Lord is kind and merciful.” The Responsorial Psalm this week is a reminder to us of the mercy which God shows toward us – but it is also the mercy we are called to show towards others. What is mercy at its core? Unconditional love! Compassionate love! The depth of that mercy from our Lord was on full display on Calvary. We did not earn it, and His mercy does not pass judgement on us. Rather, it offers redemption to those who seek it. Jesus took the judgment of our sins unto himself, as God fulfills his fidelity to the saving promises and merciful initiative by which he bound himself to his people in an eternal covenant. In the story of the fig tree, we see that mercy is to be cultivated and formed, giving all the chance to grab hold of it.
As Vincentians, we are called to a life that allows us to be life giving to others – and as a consequence life giving to ourselves. We are called to be transformed and to follow Christ through service to those in need, and so bear witness to His compassionate and liberating love. When we touch another in mercy and compassion, we touch the face of God – and become the light of Christ! Do I minister to those in need with complete compassion and mercy? Do I set my judgements aside that they may see Christ through me?
Lord Jesus, through our work with those in need, let us offer to them our compassionate mercy as given to us by our Lord. Allow them to see Christ in us and us to see Christ in them. Jesus, you are mercy and compassion for us all. Let us fix on gaze on you that we may never be distracted. I pray all of this in your name! Amen
March 17 – Second Sunday in Lent
This week we hear about the transfiguration of Jesus in the presence of Peter, James and John. It is a glimpse of the heavenly joy that is to come. Jesus has just shared with the apostles that he will be killed at some point. They come to this event likely with great fears about their futures. This glimpse of heaven is a reminder to them of the hope and joy of the future. It is that hope that they can hold onto to sustain them through the challenges and uncertainty that is to come.
As Vincentians, we can be the transfiguration event for the people we visit. We bring them hope in the midst of challenges. That is not the only transfiguration that can happen during these encounters though. St. Vincent tells us the poor are our Lord and master. They have much to teach us about humility, patience, kindness, generosity and trust. Do we look for the presence of Christ in them when we visit? Do we seek transformative moments for our souls in these encounters? Do we learn the lessons they offer to teach us?
Lord Jesus, thank you for the presence of your goodness in ly life. Help me to see your presence in each person I visit. Open my heart to the lessons they offer me, particularly in humility, trust and patience. Give me the grace to understand they have more to give to me then I have to offer to them. I pray all of this in your name! Amen
March 10 – First Sunday in Lent
Each year on the first Sunday in Lent, we are reminded of the journey into the desert and the temptation of Jesus. But it is not really about Jesus, for there was never any danger of His falling for the temptations. Rather, it is about Jesus resetting the ‘clock’ for us. Adam, when faced with temptation gave in and fell prey to the devil. Jesus rejected the devil and showed each of us the correct response. Our Responsorial Psalm from psalm 91 says “be with me Lord, when I am in trouble.” Paul’s letter to the Romans says “What does scripture say? The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart…for if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
As Vincentians, one of the greatest temptations we can face is the temptation of pride – believing that we are the catalyst for change and healing and positive answers for those we minister to. Satan works hard to convince us of our own self-worth. He tries to use the good we do to draw us away from the source of all goodness. It is humility which helps us to overcome pride. Reminding ourselves that nothing we accomplish is accomplished without God. It is good in the Lenten season to take time to remind ourselves of the need to keep our focus always and everywhere on our Lord Jesus and to not “put the Lord our God to the test.” Do I thank God every day for the opportunity to be His servant? Do I give credit and glory to Him for what he allows and enables me to do?
Lord Jesus, I pray this Lenten season that you will shield me from the temptation of pride and help me to grow in humility. I praise you and worship you as the source of all that is good. Allow me to be a vessel serving you in whatever way you call me to. Let me look at those whom you bring before me, and see in them what it is that you call me to. Help me to recognize Lord that as I serve them, they serve me. In Christ’s name! Amen
March 3 – Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Can a blind man act as a guide to a blind man?…Why look at the speck in your brother’s eye when you miss the plank in your own?… A good tree does not produce decayed fruit any more than a decayed tree produces good fruit.” These three statements of truth from our gospel this week point to the notion that you have to get your own house in order to effectively help others. It is easy to look at the shortcomings of someone else and be critical. Sometimes we do this to take focus away from our own problems. It is important that we take the time to address our own shortcomings first, that we might see clearly to help others. As we enter Lent, we are given the opportunity to enter the desert and reflect upon our needs and relationship with Christ, and the changes we need to make, that we might be Christ to others.
As Vincentians, we focus on helping others who are in need. This is noble work that we do. We can sometimes get so wrapped up in this though that we forget that our primary purpose is to grow in holiness ourselves. When we lose sight of that, we lose perspective and become ineffective or burn out. This gospel – and Lent – serve as reminders to us to pay attention to our needs and relationship with God. It is that relationship which gives us the strength perspective to effectively minister to those in need. Do I spend time in prayer daily, receive Eucharist frequently, and seek time for reflection and meditation? Do I take time for retreat that I may renew my relationship with Christ?
Father, you are the source of all that is possible. Help me to always bring my needs and the needs of others to you in prayer. Give me the humility to recognize the need I have for you in my life. Grace me with the desire to spend time with you that I might have more to give to others. I pray all of this in your Son’s name. Amen
February 24 – Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you…give to everyone who asks of you, be merciful…stop judging…stop condemning…forgive.” REALLY?? This must be simply metaphorical or a suggestion – right? Jesus is on a roll in his Sermon on the Plain. He follows up what we heard last week (the ‘Blesseds and the woes’) with probably the hardest teaching yet. It is hard for us to embrace the notion of loving our enemies –not just leave them alone, not just respect them, but embrace them and love them. Our first reading gives us the clue as to why we should and must do this. David does not harm Saul (who was trying to kill David) when he finds him sleeping because Saul has been anointed by God. Jesus reminds us that everyone person – even our enemies – is a child of God. To harm even the worst of these is to harm God. To love them is to love God. Many of us do not have ‘true enemies’ – those who are out to kill us. But we can read enemies as a wide spectrum of those who think or are different than us. Those who we are uncomfortable with, shy away from, or try to avoid. These too are children of God whom we are to embrace.
As Vincentians, we are often called to embrace those who are different than us, who we might find hard to understand or embrace. In the poor, the suffering, the sick, the imprisoned, we find people living a reality we are not comfortable or familiar with. Often they are different than us and make us uncomfortable. Especially in home visits we can find ourselves going into places that make us think. But in each instance, we encounter Christ in the suffering for each person is a child of God. God teaches us to embrace them (and Him) if we open our hearts to them. Think of it this way – why wouldn’t we desire to encounter Christ as often as possible? Where ever Christ is – that is where I want to be! In a home visit; in ministering to the suffering; we encounter Christ. And in humility, we learn how to embrace and love those who are different, those who make us uncomfortable, and those who are our ‘enemies.’ Do I look to encounter Christ each time I minister to someone who is suffering? When I go on a home visit, do I view it as a visit to the home of Jesus?
Father, help me to see the presence of Christ in everyone I minister to. Let me seek to encounter Christ in each home visit in humility and compassion. Help me to set aside my judgements, my prejudices and my fears that I may offer mercy, forgiveness and my very self in help of others. I pray all of this in your Son’s name. Amen
February 17 – Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Luke’s gospel this week does not mince words in his telling of the Beatitudes. Where Matthew says “Blessed are the poor in spirit”, Luke is more direct –“Blessed are the poor.” Matthew’s gospel seems to be more about attitudes while Luke is more about choice and action. The message is take care of the poor, take care of the hungry, take care of the weeping – or woe to you. In our first reading, we hear the message “Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord” and our Psalm tells us “blessed are they who hope in the Lord.” We have a choice to make not just about our attitudes but about our actions. If we trust in and follow the call of Jesus, we will find hope and salvation. Woe to those who choose another path.
As Vincentians, we recognize that the poor have much to offer us because they already recognize that trust in the Lord is all we have. We often see the generosity of the poor which is born out of humility and trust in God. They teach us not only how to receive but also how to give. Those who are suffering greatly are graced by God by His presence and faithfulness in their lives as He walks with them and shares in their pain. We have much to learn from the suffering when we come to them in humility, compassion and trusting in God to guide us. Do we come in true humility with trust and faith in God? Do we come with an open heart ready to learn from those we serve?
Father, help me to see your presence in those I minister to. Help me to embrace their pain and their crosses with them that I might be touched by their trust and faith in you. Help me to see their generosity to others so that I too might become more generous. Lord, walk with me as I walk with the poor, the hungry and the suffering. I pray all of this in your Son’s name. Amen
February 10 – Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Our readings this week present to us three men called by God: Isaiah, Paul and Simon (Peter) – all of whom are certainly not the prototypical ‘candidates’ you would consider for doing God’s work. Isaiah was a man of unclean lips (certainly sinful); Paul was a persecutor of Christians; and Simon was a simple fisherman with a hot temper and a stubborn streak. Each of them would likely have been incapable of being competent in ministry to God, much less hugely successful, on their own initiative. But when called by God and led by God, they could not be stopped. We are nothing without Him, but everything with Him. They each humbly accepted God’s will for them and gave of themselves with total commitment to Him. By accepting and cooperating with God’s will for them, they became the very prophets, saints and leaders that God wanted them to be and that we as Church needed.
As Vincentians, we are also called by God to minister to those who are suffering in His Church. We come from many backgrounds and have many deficiencies. I suspect many of us feel unequipped to do this work. But God will and does equip us with all we need when we open ourselves to his call to us. We can take heart from the example of these three who gave of themselves in total humility and selflessness and acted with great passion in cooperation with God. When we do, His strength and goodness will overshadow any deficiencies we have. Do I offer myself in complete humility to God? Do I discern and allow Him to guide all my actions that they may be fully aligned with His will for me and those I minister to? Do I embrace all He gives me with the passion of Peter, Paul and Isaiah?
Father, give me the courage to say yes to your call to me. Help me to recognize in true humility my total dependence on you, accepting that guided by you in cooperation with your will all things are possible. Allow me to submit in selflessness and with great zeal in ministering to all who you bring before me. I pray all of this in your Son’s name. Amen
February 3 – Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sometimes even truth and love are not well accepted in the places you would most expect them to be. Our readings this week carry a message of ‘the scriptures being fulfilled in the hearing.’ That doesn’t mean everyone likes what they hear. And Jesus tells us that ‘no prophet is accepted in his native place.’ When you proclaim the gospels – the truth of Jesus Christ and what he calls us to – many do not want to hear –even those you would think receptive. Our challenge is to hold fast to the truth, delivering it with love and kindness to those who will hear it.
As Vincentians, we will find some we minister to who do not want to hear the truth of their situation or the gospel. One of the virtues we are called to by St. Vincent is simplicity. For St. Vincent, simplicity meant speaking the truth by being open, honest and authentic in all our dealings. He also calls us to gentleness and humility. These speak to how we deliver truth – with kindness and patience reflecting the teachings and love of Christ. Do I seek to be honest with my neighbors in need even when the message is difficult to deliver? Do I discern God’s will in all things that I may act in the fullness of truth?
Father, help me to seek your will and truth in all situations. Give me the courage to be true to the virtue of simplicity when ministering to others. Grace me with the gentleness to deliver even difficult messages with compassion and mercy. I pray all of this in your Son’s name. Amen
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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