Service Matters – Octave of Christmas

27 December 2010

Feast of St. John, Apostle & Gospel Writer

Octave of Christmas



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
  • Salesian Peace and Justice Blog


1. Service Word  John 1:1-18

And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us,

and we saw his glory, the glory of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.


God’s Word becomes flesh in the infant Jesus who cannot speak; God enters our world as a helpless baby.  Why would the incarnation take place this way?   Asking the question I have to share my experience of the newborn daughter of my niece Donna and her husband Nick: Natalie Rose Thomas.   Since she arrived October 14th, Natalie has been our Christ-child, a miracle full of grace and truth.


Three observations about God coming to us as an infant:

1. We need God, as a baby needs her/his mother and father.  We might think we have things under control.  But God is the one; all things rest ultimately in his hands.  I imagine none of us has to look very hard or wait long for life to remind us of how much is beyond even our best efforts—health & illness, mistakes & consequences, things in life that stop us with awe & wonder, the positives & negatives of our own make up.

2. Young Natalie is so beautiful; all babies are.  (Naturally in our eyes, she is unprecedented-ly amazing.)   The way we look at her mirrors the way God sees us. The Creator looks at what he has made in wonder and appreciation and says,it is good.” God’s Word calls us to nothing less than peace and fulfillment in the image and likeness of God. 

3. God is Love, and we are most in God’s image and likeness when we love.  Don’t we know from experience that the generosity and the other-focus of love make us happy?   Self-focus, lust, infatuation, perpetual adolescence, grasping for security, endless entertainment seem great, but leave us empty.  Perhaps the greatest argument against restricting priesthood to unmarried men is how the experience of caring for a child calls forth unselfishness, sacrifice, other-centeredness.  (Not to mention the ego adjustments needed to be happily partnered.) It is amazing to see my niece Donna, whom I knew as an infant, a little girl, and an adolescent, mother Natalie’s fledgling life so generously.


Not all parents respond to that call; nothing is automatic.  And service, work, liturgy, prayer, friendships, and community can make a celibate priest or an Oblate sacrificing, other-centered, holy.  God calls; we have to hear; we have to take up our vocation.  Whatever particular form that vocation takes, the call is the same for all.   We begin life as infants, naturally the center of our universe.   We are ultimately depended on God, but he gives us our lives to shape.  God is always calling us to widen our world—beyond self, to family, friends, clan, to those completely different from us —even to our enemy, in tolerance, forgiveness, understanding, even respect or reconciliation.


-Can you identify what you are passionate about in your life? —What gives you energy and excitement, to what do you devote yourself?  —What do these things say about your vocation?

-Can you identify any sin, dissipating passion, or inertia that have kept you from growth?

-What have you done with any anger, fear, lust, or selfish impulses in 2010?

-Have you become more loving and generous in 2010?  


2. Last Week in Camden

We celebrated the holy day with vibrant Masses, with service and gifts for all our neighbors.  We are very grateful for your generosity that helps our struggling neighbors.   Thank you.


3. Upcoming Events

Wednesday students from Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia will be here and will clean up the park across Vine Street from Holy Name School.  We are working with community groups to make this great resource available for kid to use.

Tuesday Kenny and Barbie move to a new apartment.

At the end of each year, Guadalupe Family Services, sponsors a prayer vigil for families of murder victims on Camden Vigil.  So beginning at 1:00 on Wednesday, until Mass New Year’s Eve, we will honor and pray in the Cathedral for each of the 36 victims and the people who love them.  DSW volunteer, Tim Gallagher and GFS director, Sr. Helen Cole, SSJ, will lead each hour of remembrance prayer for peace.


4. Peace and Justice Blog    Read the Oblate Justice and Peace Blog.   A reflection on learning a second language is posted there.



Merry Christmas! Fr. Mike McCue, OSFS

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