Service Matters – Third Week of Advent

12 December 2011

Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe

Third Week of Advent


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    Luke 1:46

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; 

my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

for he has looked upon his lowly servant.

From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me, 

and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation.

He has filled the hungry with good things,

and the rich he has sent away empty.


The responsorial “psalm” for the third Sunday of Advent was actually from Luke’s Gospel: verses from the Magnificat, Mary’s canticle of wonder, grace, and thanks.   This is her response to Gabriel’s annunciation of her role in God’s plan.   The Blessed Mother naturally gets a high profile during Advent and Christmas; and the feasts of Immaculate Conception and Guadalupe bring more focus.   This is healthy for Christians, because Mary continually points us to her Son’s humanity.    The Lord was not some isolated superhero.   He is truly divine and human, situated in a family and a context—like all the rest of us.


It is interesting that the first lines of Mary’s prayer use terms that appear in the new translation of  prayers for Mass: soul and spirit.  “The Lord be with you. And with your spirit.”  “… but only say the the word and my soul shall be healed.”  At first considering these changes, they seemed to be leaving out aspects of our humanity—body, personality, mind, ego, self.    I was afraid they might promote a non-Christian dichotomy of the human person, between the bodily and the spiritual.   However, this gospel clearly uses soul and spirit searching for language to talk about the whole of ourselves, our deepest identity, our unified core.


Another way to talk about this comes from a guy in his late 30s I’ve been talking to recently.   He is addicted but very repentant as he lay on what is, in all likelihood, his deathbed.    He offers a summary of his life saying he “chose to live numb.”   Since teenage he used various illegal and prescription  drugs to numb the pain of various challenges and failures—but they also dulled his joys and relationships.   These chemicals even helped him neglect the disease that is now shutting down various bodily systems and taking his life.   However, his faith is insightful and strong.


Drugs & drink and many other practices can get to our core—our heart and spirit.   God wants to get there also.   The first numb us to challenges and pain; but God makes a home and helps us embrace all of life—challenge, pain, joy, loves.


-“Wake from your sleep,” “Prepare the way,” “Rejoice always, I say it again, rejoice!” “Repent”—(literally: rethink) are constant refrains of Advent.   How can we respond?

-Are there things “numb” your soul or spirit?

-How is Mary, the Blessed Mother, a companion in living your Christian life?


2. Last Week in Camden 

Wednesday Salesianum sophomores had a retreat day here with Oblate Mike Vogt.


Friday DSW supporter Paula Riley and friends from Norwood-Fontbonne Academy in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, had a service learning morning.  They made sandwiches and served people at our sandwich ministry window.   The kids also took part in a “saint search” in the Cathedral, locating images of various individuals in the art of the church and learning about the lives of each.


Friday evening twelve teens from Holy Family Parish in Newark DE arrived with their two great adult leaders for service and reflection.   Saturday was full day of service.   Four of the students had been on their parish trip here in the spring, and came back for more.   Volunteers from Seattle Pacific University joined us for Ken’s presentation and are off to a good start for their two weeks in Camden.

The Parish had a concert and dinner fundraiser Saturday night with amazing music from student guitarists and our parish’s combined choir.


3. Upcoming Events 

Father Judge freshmen will be here Tuesday.   Visitation women arrive Saturday for a full day of service.   The school has collected toys for more than forty of our families, and will bring some of those with them.   They will join Holy Name Scholars also serving that day.


4. Links

Jesuit James Martin, writer for America magazine (and chaplain for Comedy Central’s Colbert Report) posted a thoughtful essay about the new translation of Catholic prayers for Mass An Elegy for the Sacramentary.

Felice dias,


  Father Mike McCue, OSFS

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