12 August 2013
Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
St. Jane de Chantal
A project of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales in Camden, NJ,
DeSales Service Works welcomes volunteers to join
in service, prayer, and learning in our struggling neighborhood.
- Service Word
- Last Week in Camden
- Upcoming Events
1. Service Word Revelation 11:19A; 12:1-6A, 10AB
A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun,
with the moon under her feet,
and on her head a crown of twelve stars.
She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth.
Then another sign appeared in the sky;
it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns,
and on its heads were seven diadems.
Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky
and hurled them down to the earth.
Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth,
to devour her child when she gave birth.
Family is important; that is one reason devotion to Mary could not be more natural and healthy for Christians. Jesus, God become human, has a mother, and he has a family.
We meet so many people whose mothers were unable to be mothers or whose fathers were not fathers. It is heart breaking hearing how a mother felt she had to choose between a son or daughter and a new boyfriend. It is hard to observe a parent clearly too dependent on a child for affection and support. Some families simply run out of resources—material or emotional— when addiction has devoured all trust and hope. Clearly Camden is not the only place where this happens, but wounded-ness lies near the surface here.
Recently I drove Don (a guy I often write about with cerebral palsy, hearing loss, and addiction) to an appointment with his hearing aid doctor. On the way back, he made a sudden request: “Turn here, I want to stop and see my Mom.” In reality she lived nowhere near where we first turned, but she was on his mind because someone had told him his mother had moved—without giving notice or the new address. We arrived at Don’s childhood home, and the new residents confirmed that she was in fact somewhere else.
As a child, he and his two older brothers spent almost as much time removed by child protective services in foster care as they had at this Filmore Street row house. Still he was upset.
I tried to comfort him, saying some people just are not able to give the love, safety, and care that children deserve. I wanted to find a way to also raise the reality that his long standing struggle with addiction likely posed significant challenges for his mother. But I think emotions went too deep for him to hear any of this.
Driving, observing Don’s feelings, I contrasted the treatment he and his brothers received as children with parents I know who give so much thoughtful consideration to how to raise their kids. What a difference.
The Blessed Mother stands everywhere—but especially in Camden and anywhere red, horned dragons threaten—as a sign directing us to her Son and the life he offers the world. This life is not designed for a utopia far away and long ago—but for the real world were evil threatens to devour life and goodness. But we bring it forth anyway, trusting in God’s power and presence.
-What role do you play for various kids in you life?
-Are there forces or circumstances that threaten the good and vulnerable in your daily life?
-How does Mary, the Blessed Mother, contribute to your love of God and neighbor?
2. Last Week in Camden
Joseph’s House is now the owner of a large building ideal for our purposes of aiding people who are homeless. We will now have ample space to offer emergency shelter and to more effectively assist people in breaking out of the cycle of poverty. Thank God and thanks to all supporters.
Watch a great intern slide show to learn more about the program and to see Camden sites.
3. Upcoming Events
I’m on vacation in Virginia this week. I already miss the neighborhood.
In honor of the feast of St. Jane, 12 August, we share a reflection on Francis de Sales from Pope Francis when he was archbishop in Argentina.
There is no danger if our prayer is without words or reflection
because the sucess of our prayer depends not on words or study
but on the simple raising our minds to God. St. Jane de Chantal
Fr. Mike McCue, OSFS