Vincentian Reflections

Vincentian Reflections2019-02-19T18:29:31+00:00
2109, 2021

September 26- Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time & September 27- St. Vincent de Paul’s Feast Day

From the Deacon’s Desk:  Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts

September 26 – Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 27 – St. Vincent de Paul’s Feast Day

This Sunday we finish a series of five weeks of readings from the Letter of St. James.  This is a short letter which in many ways is an exhortation to virtuous living and in which James teaches us about faith and it’s connection to works.  Works is the fulfillment, or activation of our faith.  Faith is a gift from God.  When we chose to receive it with humility and thanksgiving, it is evidenced by our works.  If we are not transformed by our faith to put it into practice, than our faith is not true and we have not embraced it.  St. Vincent understood this and sought fervently to find true faith by looking to those Jesus associated with most – the vulnerable in society.  His faith put into practice was the embracing of love itself.  Selfless love seeking the needs of others over even his own.  St. Vincent found that his faith became activated and charged with passion by following the heart of Jesus to its very core.  He sought not just to ‘help’ the poor, but rather to enter deeply into relationship with them as Jesus does with us.  As Pope Francis says, “get the smell of the sheep on you!”

As Vincentians, we too follow the example of St. Vincent, seeking to embrace our faith and activate our faith through care for the poor and the vulnerable.  By doing works of charity we grow in holiness and faith.  By caring for the poor, we walk with Christ and imitate His actions.  Through home visits we meet the poor where they are at, seeking their friendship while offering ours.  We connect our hearts to theirs, and we seek through any and all means to lift them in the hope of Jesus Christ.  When we do, we find that no act of charity is foreign to us.  When done with humility and trust and dependence on God, we become sharers in His Kingdom.  Our faith becomes our works and our works become the fulfillment of our faith.  How do I pursue my faith through my actions, seeking always to be in harmony with Jesus?  How do I reflect the light of Christ to those whom I serve?

Lord Jesus, help me to embrace my faith and to activate it through a life of charity and love.  Help me to humbly embrace your will for me with thanksgiving.  Allow me to be transformed that my works may reflect your works, your mercy and your compassion.  Give me the grace to place the needs of others in a place of prominence in my life.  We pray all of this in your name.  Amen

Deacon Mike

1409, 2021

September 19- Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

From the Deacon’s Desk:  Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts

September 19 – Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

I do not like pain – and I don’t like suffering!  Truth be told, if we are totally honest with ourselves, I suspect that is a pretty universal sentiment.  It’s a part of our human nature.  Pain and suffering are a consequence of the sin of Adam and Eve.  They come as part of the package with sin, death and sickness.  I dare say, many of us have become far more familiar with pain and suffering over the past two years than we wanted to.  Our gospel this week (and last) have Jesus teaching us about pain and suffering.  “The Son of Man is to be handed over…and they will kill him.”  We heard last week that he must suffer greatly, and that if we wish to come after him, we must deny ourselves, pick up our crosses (aka – suffer greatly) and follow him.

The point though, is not about the intensity of Jesus’s suffering – or ours – but rather that he was totally faithful to the Father and trusted that he would be delivered from the pain and suffering.  Pain and suffering causes us to turn inward, focusing on ourselves and what we want rather than others.  Our second reading warns us against becoming inwardly focused.  That’s hard when we are suffering. Satan uses the suffering to distract us from our focus on God and compassion for others.  God calls us though to embrace the pain and suffering, connecting ourselves completely to the cross of Christ.  Jesus did not seek pain but embraced it so that he might lift us past our pain and suffering.  God sent him that he might know our suffering, connect to it, and lead us past it.  When we accept our pain trusting in God’s will for our lives, we are drawn ever closer to our Lord Jesus.  Many saints (Padre Pio among others) are shining examples of embracing the pain in faithful obedience and trust in God.  When we do, Jesus embraces us in love compassion and mercy.

As Vincentians, we are confronted on a daily basis by others who are suffering.  Some provide tremendous witness to us on the acceptance of circumstance and suffering, trusting completely that God will provide.  Others struggle under the burden they carry.  Jesus came in part to lift our burden.  Through SVdP he calls us to reach out in mercy and compassion to help lift the burdens of others.  We are called to shoulder some of their suffering.  We are called to help them to move beyond their pain.  When we help them to see the presence and joy of Jesus in their lives, we give them hope for the future.  Where am I on my journey?  How well do I embrace my own pain and suffering?   How do I give completely and sacrificially of myself to the care of others?  Do I simply help those in need, or do I walk with them as Vincent did, and as Jesus does every day with me?  How do I show them the hope of the future?

Lord Jesus, let me embrace my pain and suffering, accepting it as my cross that connects me to you.  Help me to be the conduit of your hope for those I encounter who are suffering as well.  Grace me with obedience to God and trust in His mercy and compassion. Let my focus always be outward seeking your will for myself and others.  Draw me ever closer to you.  Help me to pick up my cross and be your servant to all I encounter.    We pray all of this in your name.  Amen

Deacon Mike

709, 2021

September 12- Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

From the Deacon’s Desk:  Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts

September 12 – Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Get behind me Satan!  You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”  These harsh words of Jesus to Peter are a stark reminder to us all that it is God’s will and not ours which must always prevail.  Peter thinks he has a better plan and so doesn’t listen closely enough to what Jesus is telling him.      “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”, Jesus says.  Suffering is a part of what we all must face and embrace.  It is often through suffering that we come to better understand our own salvation.  The words in our reading from Isaiah reflect the attitude of the ideal servant of God.  “The Lord God opens my ear that I may hear and I have not rebelled, have not turned back.”  Even though the servant encounters their own suffering in the work they do, they stay true to God’s will for them and others.  They trust in God’s will, and their works reflects their abiding faith in him.  This is exactly what St. James is calling us to in his letter as well.

As Vincentians, we need to continually seek God’s will in all situations.  We need to recognize that it is not good enough for us to say we care about the poor – our works need to reflect that.  As St. James points out, it is of little use to say “’go in peace and keep warm and eat well,’ but you do not give them the necessities of the body.”  We need to trust in where he is leading us and those we minister to.  We need to recognize our dependence on his help. How have I been challenged to set aside my thoughts as I seek to know God’s will?  How do I accept that suffering is a part of the human condition and can help us grow in holiness when we pick up our crosses?

Our closing prayer comes to us from Fr. Mychal Judge, OFM, who was the fire chaplain killed 9/11/2001.  Fr. Mychal’s body was the first one released from Ground Zero and was death certificate #1 for that day.  Dennis Coyne, one of our Conference Spiritual Advisors in the Covington Diocese found this in the St. Anthony Messenger.  It is a perfect prayer for all of us as we prepare for home visits that we might truly seek and follow God’s will and not our own.

“Lord take me where you want me to go, let me meet who you want me to meet.  Tell me what you want me to say, and keep me out of your way.”  We pray all of this in your name.  Amen

 

Deacon Mike

3108, 2021

September 5- Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

From the Deacon’s Desk:  Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts

September 5 – Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Say to those whose hearts are frightened:  be strong, fear not! Here is your God…he comes to save you.”  Our readings this week speak to faith, trust and action.  Faith that we need not be afraid because God comes to save us from all that looks to harm us.  Trust that he will heal us and give us all that we need.  And a call to action for all of us to care for the weak, the vulnerable and the frightened.  A call to act in harmony bringing others before the Lord without regard to their station in life, that he may lift them up; that we may all be opened to hear and see the truth of God’s love for us.

Notice in the gospel though, Jesus took the deaf man whom the people brought to him off by himself to remove him from the crowd.  He took him from the noise of the world that he might be able to hear the words of Jesus, feel his healing touch, and see his loving compassion without distractions and confusion.  It was the faith and love of others though that delivered the deaf man into the presence of God.

As Vincentians, this goes right to the heart of our ministry and how we grow in holiness.  We care for the poor and vulnerable and learn from them the importance of dependence on others.   Not only do we see it in their very lives, but we learn through OUR dependence on others to help us care for them.  We are reminded of the importance for us to act, bringing others before Jesus.  We are called to act with confidence and trust, born out of our faith that God has come to save us and those he brings before us.  Our faith calls us to act on behalf of others helping to quiet the noise and distractions in their lives that they may see, hear and feel God’s presence and saving action in their lives.  We strive to work in harmony with one another, recognizing that we are not the authors of healing, but rather that we bring others before God, seeking His will and healing for them.  How do I work in harmony with my fellow Vincentians to care for those who are frightened and vulnerable?  How do I remove the noise of distractions from my life – and the lives of others – that we may more clearly hear God’s will?  How do I set my prejudices and judgements to the side, seeking only to sing the praise of God from the depths of my soul?

Lord Jesus, help me to view all peoples through your lens of total love, mercy and compassion.  Take away my judgements and prejudices.  Help me to trust in my dependence on you for myself and for others.  Grace me with the zeal to bring others before you, seeking your healing presence in their lives.  Help me to grow in humility, giving praise and glory to you forever.  We pray all of this in your name.  Amen

Deacon Mike

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