Service Matters – 2nd Week of Lent

5 March 2012

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  Mark 9:2-10

Jesus took Peter, James, and John

and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.

And he was transfigured before them…

Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses,

and they were conversing with Jesus.

Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,

“Rabbi, it is good that we are here!

Let us make three tents:

one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”


Whenever Peter shows up in the gospels, you can be sure that he is going to speak before he thinks; he is going to be well intended, and he is going to be wrong.   He comes across as so human.  In the Transfiguration he, James, and John witness an extraordinary moment with the Lord; they get a big picture view of who Jesus is and what he is all about.   But Peter tries to freeze the moment, offering to build tents for each of them.   This is thoughtful, but clearly he aims too low and misses the point.


It says so much about our religion that we have preserved the memory of one of the key figures in Christianity, Saint Peter, first pope, person with direct contact with the Lord, without editing out these unflattering moments.   Instead we have enshrined them in our most sacred texts and recount them in the oral tradition of weekly Eucharist.


It seems to me that our culture puts a lot of importance on being right, winning, and looking good.  These are good things.  But part of being human is failing sometimes, being wrong.    I don’t mean “human” as a put down or excuse.   Peter gives good example; he is not afraid to fail, and because of that, he learns (gradually) and comes to deep understanding.


In Camden you encounter a lot of failure—as well as a lot of posturing to be cool “top dog,”  “alpha male.”     But you also encounter women and men who have learned so much from life—including failures—and have come to a wisdom, warmth, and genuine humility.   This is one of the most rewarding things ministering in this community.


How well do you do failing, making mistakes, being wrong?

Can you rate your need to “look good” or to appear always “on top?”

Who gives you good example on how to fail, about how to be really humble?



2. Last Week in Camden

Students from Bishop Ireton High School were here three days for a service retreat.    They were great.


Saturday six students and two campus ministers arrived from Rivier College in New Hampshire for a week here.   Sunday students from Temple University arrived for their spring break.   The two groups got to work right away with Ken moving compost for the Cathedral’s peace garden. This city has so much land that is in ruins, overgrown, trash-strewn, or paved over, we make a point to join those taking care of the “green spaces” that exist.    Order and beauty counter the forces of neglect so present here.


3. Upcoming Events

Rivier and Temple have the week of service ahead.   This weekend I head to California for a wedding of a Ireton grad and then a couple days at a Camaldolese Benedictine monastery in the Bay Area.


4. Links

See what’s new on the DeSales Service Works website or our  Facebook page- or on Mike Morgan’s blog


Comedy Central might not be a place you might expect a positive Catholic presence.   Steven Colbert is open about his Catholicism on his show —albeit with his character’s obtuse exaggeration.   In real life Colbert is a main-stream Catholic; it was great seeing him on the first day of Lent with ashes on his forehead.   And last week Jon Stewart interviewed theologian Cathleen Kaveny check it out.



Peace, Father Mike McCue, OSFS

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