Service Matters – 2nd Week of Lent

21 March 2011

2nd Week of Lent


A project of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales in Camden, NJ,

De Sales Service Works welcomes volunteers to join

in service, prayer and learning in our struggling neighborhood.



  • Service Word
  • Last Week in Camden
  • Upcoming Events
  • Links

1. Service Word   Matthew 17:1-9

Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.   And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him.   Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Lord, it is good that we are here.   If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”  

While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”   When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid.  

But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid.”  And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone.


The Gospels give us a full-bodied picture of the apostle Peter.  It is very significant that the memory of the earliest Christians that the inspired Gospel writers recorded does not edit out the dimensions of Peter’s life that are unflattering.   Frequently we can observe him missing the point, making mistakes, sinning, and failing.   In this scene, the Transfiguration, his comments are no doubt well-intended, but he clearly does “not see as God does but as humans do.”


The Church did not edit out these weaknesses in passing on to us the story of this hero, leader of the twelve and the first pope.   There clearly is a lesson here for today’s community and for each of us in approaching human shortcomings.


St. Francis de Sales offers insight on this topic:

You must hate your faults, but you should do so calmly and peacefully, without fuss or anxiety.   You must be patient when you see them and benefit from seeing your own lowliness.  Unless you do this, your imperfections, of which you are acutely conscious, will disturb you even more and thus grow stronger, for nothing is more favorable to the growth of these weeds than our anxiety and overeagerness to get rid of them.


-How would you rate your ability to look honestly and calmly at your shortcomings?

-Are there things that help you see as God does on an daily—or moment to moment—basis?

-Is there any aspect of your life where it would be good to hear the Lord’s “commandment: “Rise, and do not be afraid“? 


2. Last Week in Camden

The lively group from St. Lawrence University worked hard at all our service sites.   Members of the group were from diverse locations: Upstate NY, Queens, the Bronx, Sierra Leon, Kenya, Senegal, and Devon, PA.   They took on the rehab of Northgate Park as a personal challenge, putting in hours during their week here.  Sallies juniors joined the project Tuesday and Thursday; as did Holy Name Scholars Saturday.  The warm, spring weather make being outside a pleasure.


Saturday I joined students and adults at Georgetown Visitation Academy in DC for part of their homelessness reflection day.   The girls spent the night outside in an encampment that looked very much like one you might see in Camden—except for the liberal use of duct tape on the cardboard shelters. We celebrated Mass with the monastery community and had a discussion over breakfast, sharing experiences and insights.


3. Upcoming Events

A group from Northwestern University is here staying with us and working across the river with “Philabundance,” an agency that gets food to the needy.  Father Judge freshmen are back this week.   DSW year-long volunteer, Tom Briese’s birthday is Thursday.  Happy birthday, Tom!   He and Mike Morgan travel to Virginia Tech, Mike’s Alma mater, for the weekend to present about their year of service in Camden.   Students from the Cristo Rey school in New York City arrive Saturday morning for a weekend of service and reflection.


4. Salesian Peace and Justice Blog

Read past essays from the Peace & Justice Blog.



Thank you, Fr. Mike McCue, OSFS

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