24 November 2014
Sts. Andrew Dŭng-Lạc and Companions
Last Week of Ordinary Time
A project of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales,
DeSales Service Works welcomes volunteers to join
in service, prayer, and learning in our struggling neighborhoods.
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- Last Week in Camden
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- Service Word
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.’
Then the righteous will answer him and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’
And the king will say to them in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Perhaps one of the oddest Catholic Christian doctrines has to do with our belief in the real presence of Christ in the eucharist. Maybe it is such a part of the Catholic package, that church-goers forget how bold and really odd the assertion is. We believe that somehow God is really present in the material elements of the sacrament. So much so that we take the words of Jesus from the Last Supper and make them our own, “This is my body.” “This is my blood.”
God, the Almighty, who can be best described by listing all the good, true, and beautiful qualities we humans are aware of, and then imagining these brought to their highest point of perfection. And then God stands infinitely beyond that. We profess that this infinite, perfect, almighty One comes to us in a small wafer of bread and a sip of wine. Hard to believe; easy to miss and forget.
God’s power is such that he can come to us, entering fully into humanity without diminishing his infinite nature.
It is no less odd, and equally foundational, that we also meet God in the least of our sisters and brothers. This, too, is hard to believe and very easy to miss. What kind of Power is he who can identify himself with the least: Whatever you did to these least ones, you did to me.
Sometime the poor, thirsty, hungry, naked, or imprisoned get romanticized. You don’t need me to tell you—but I will anyway from my Camden experience—-all these conditions bring people down. Without regular showers an access to laundry, people smell. People are not always grateful or polite. Hunger, thirst, addiction can make people desperate, selfish, manipulative, depressed. Jail, around here anyway, involves basically living in a slightly larger than average bathroom (stainless steel toilet in one corner), four people, in space designed for three. It has to tax people to the limits of their humanity. It can be hard work to communicate with and understand people who only began to learn English in adulthood and on the job.
-How does your observance of the upcoming season of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany connect you with the Eternal, Almighty, Infinite God who comes to us?
-Where do you encounter the least sisters and brothers?
-Are there ever ways in which the description, least sister or brother can apply to you?
- 2. Last Week in Camden
Returning from the Catholic Volunteer Network convention in Colorado, Director of Operations, Mike Morgan represented DSW at service promotion events at St Joseph’s, DeSales, LaSalle, and Villanova Universities.
Monday and Tuesday students from a freshmen service program at St. Joe’s University called Magis,served here 4:00 -6:00pm both days. Because of the bitter cold they served inside at our grade school’s after school program.
Fr. Judge freshmen and one more Salesianum homeroom served this week. A high school new to DSW, Mt. St. Joseph Academy, served here Thursday. Their servicee director is Rebecca Gutherson who came to Camden couple years ago with a student group from Immaculata University. Now she is back sharing the rich experience she had as a student volunteer. Thursday night McCue, Miranda and Kristin from the Last Stop joined Hal Miller and Radio from Joseph’s House to talk with students at Bishop Eustace HS experiencing a homeless night out at their school. The neighborhood youth group CASA served a great Thanksgiving dinner Wednesday night.
Friday, McCue joined many Oblates, family and friends at the funeral of Fr. Charlie Englehardt, the Oblate accused of sexual abuse in Pennsylvania who died last Friday in prison. Read about this unmistakable miscarriage of justice in the blog: http://www.bigtrial.net/2014/10/a-three-ring-circus-starring-billy-doe.html which reports on the legal system in the City of Philadephia. He is not a big fan of the Archdiocese or the Church in general, so his coverage of this case carries particular weight. No human system is perfect, but let me say that judges should not be elected!
9:45-3:00 Saturday young confirmation candidates from Our Mother of Consolation Parish came for a day of service, community, and prayer. They did many things but got a great tour of Joseph’s House and worked on the grounds of the shelter.
3. This Week
Each year at Thanksgiving the Cathedral parish becomes a hub for holiday food. It comes in from all directions from generous individuals, parishes and other communities, and then we get it to needy people.
Tuesday a Salesianum homeroom will be here—-they will get to assist with our big food distribution day. That night McCue will lead the celebration of Mass and will share dinner with a St. Vincent de Paul Society group at St. Anselm’s Parish in Philly.
Cristo Rey is a high school in Philadelphia in its third year. Service has been part of its identity since its first months after opening two and a half years ago. Wednesday the entire school will serve the needy together as a way of marking there feast day—-last Sunday’s feast of Christ the King. They will take up the grounds work at Joseph’s House.
Saturday Boy Scouts from all over South Jersey will return to North Camden for service in our neighborhood park.
God bless you,
Fr. Mike McCue, OSFS