Reflection From the Deacon’s Desk: Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts
We celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary this Saturday. She is the Patroness of SVdP as well as for our country. The Feast celebrates the fact that she was without sin (the only human other than Jesus who can make that claim). She was without sin, but she was not without free will. She could have refused God, but she chose to allow God to enact His plan. We too have free will and the ability to allow God to enact his plan in and through our lives – or to reject it. We who are related to God by the grace of our baptism are given opportunity after opportunity to allow his plan to reach its fulfillment within us. Mary had ultimate trust in God’s love and plan for each of us. She gave total and complete submission to His will. We hear throughout the gospels that she “kept all these things in her heart”. She accepts with gratitude all that God gives us and seeks His will in all things. She is the model of silent suffering, merciful kindness, compassionate love, and graceful strength in the face of adversity.
As Vincentians, Mary is our eternal Mother and the embodiment of all we should aspire to be. She shows us the path to pure holiness. Do I accept all that God brings before me with gratitude and without hesitation? Do I seek and follow His guidance in all decisions? Do I allow His plan to become reality through my life? Am I the comfort to others that Mary is to me?
Father, thank you for the gift of Mary, our eternal and loving Mother. Allow me to see in her all that you call me to be. Allow me to embrace your will for my life and for the lives of those I minister to as she embraced your will. Grant me the humility, the gentleness, the selflessness, the patience and the passion to follow in the model of love and compassion our Blessed Mother has shown us. I pray all of this in your Son’s name. Amen
“May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all…so as to strengthen your hearts, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father.” These are Saint Paul’s words to the Thessalonians from our second reading this week. He is looking toward the final judgment and making clear what is most important in the eyes of the Lord – love for one another leading to growth in holiness. As we begin the season of Advent, we look forward to both the birth of a tiny child AND that final coming as well. We enter with a sense of anticipation, but also with a warning in the gospel to stay vigilant – to not become drowsy. Advent is a season not only of anticipation, but also of preparation. We prepare our hearts to receive the hope which Christ brings to us.
As Vincentians, our entire ministry is a response to that call to holiness by responding to God’s love for us by loving our neighbors in the same way. We bow humbly before the Lord recognizing the great gift that He is to us and the hope that He brings to all. This is a time for us to prepare our hearts and souls. What changes do I need to make in my life? How do I reflect the hope of Christ to those who I come into contact with? Do I lift my soul to the Lord daily?
Lord Jesus, thank you for the gift of salvation. Help me to stay vigilant. Allow me to walk humbly, serving you at all times. Help me to abound in love for others so as to be blameless in holiness before God. Give me the grace to prepare fully in anticipation of the hope which is to come. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
We enter our final week of the liturgical year. It is also the week, when more than any other, we pause as Americans to give thanks for all the blessings which we have received and the many gifts we have to be thankful for. Our gospel on Thanksgiving Day recounts the story of the ten lepers who were healed – only one of whom offered thanks for the blessing. All ten were suffering and likely had bitterness or sadness about their lot in life. And yet, when they were graced with healing which gave them new hope and a new beginning, only one found his way back to our Lord. The new Liturgical year offers each of us healing an renewed hope for the future as we anticipate the birth of our Lord. It is only fitting that we bring an attitude of thanksgiving to the fore.
As Vincentians, we have all experienced both those who show little or no gratitude and those who are totally grateful. So many have all the reason in the world to feel bitterness about their circumstances in life. And yet, they find their way past the bitterness and are filled with gratitude for the help we bring. It is their faith which leads them to see God’s hand in the help they receive. Am I appreciative of all that I have? Do I recognize the blessings God has bestowed on me? Do I give glory, praise and thanks to God each and every day?
I pray for each of you that you may find the time to spend with your family this Thanksgiving. As we enjoy our families, let us also take some time to remember those who are less fortunate – those who have no family, those who have no faith, those who are hurting and those who lack basic necessities.
Lord Jesus, help me to see your hand in all that I have. Let me see the many blessings in my life. Give me the courage, the humility and the grace to stop and offer thanks to you for all I have. Be with those who find themselves suffering during this time. Let them bear their crosses in faith and see the hope that you offer to each of us. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
November 17 – St. Elizabeth of Hungary
Our readings recently have been increasingly about faith and the importance of trust in God AND following where God leads us. Our second readings from Hebrews have reinforced that Jesus is our model and salvation. Our first reading this week closes with, “Those who lead many to justice will shine like the stars forever.” This is where the readings about the end of time become less about something we hope will be in the far future and more about the way that we are living our faith now. We need to lead the many to justice. We are called to lead others to justice. We are called to help them see His Presence in our actions, our care for the poor, the struggling, the sick, and all who are dependent on our compassion. We are called to live our faith, reflecting the love of Christ here and now, that we might shine like the stars.
St. Elizabeth is a kindred spirit to the work we do in SVdP. She was the daughter of the King of Hungary. But she led a life of prayer, sacrifice and service to the poor and sick. Seeking to become one with the poor, she wore simple clothing. Daily she would take bread to hundreds of the poorest in the land, who came to her gate. She lived a short life dying at the age of 24 in the early 1200’s. She shared the zeal – the passion – Vincent had for serving the poor. She is the patron saint of Catholic Charities. Like St. Vincent, she saw the need to live our faith now in obedience to the example of Jesus. Do I look to live my faith today, by bringing justice or do I rely on the hope of the future? Do I let my prayer lifeform my actions and lead me to compassion and mercy for the poor and struggling?
Lord Jesus, help me to see the injustices of society and help me to work against them. Let me see the hope of the future but understand my call to live today. Help me to submit in obedience to the example of Christ in bringing justice and compassion to all who are in need. Let me act with the passion, zeal and conviction of St. Vincent and St. Elizabeth of Hungary. We pray all of this in your name. Amen