21 October 2013
29th Week in 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 neighborhood.
- Service Word
- Last Week in Camden
- Upcoming Events
1. Service Word Luke 18:9-14
“Two people went up to the temple area to pray;
one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.
The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself,
‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity —
greedy, dishonest, adulterous — or even like this tax collector.
I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’
But the tax collector stood off at a distance
and would not even raise his eyes to heaven
but beat his breast and prayed,
‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’
Rob is a recovering addict—17 months sober. He lives and works at a recovery house in Philly. He has been through a lot in life—he readily confesses that he’s to blame for nearly all his trials. Sober and clean, he has learned so much from the lost years, the mistakes small and huge. That hard-won wisdom comes with an abiding awareness of God’s presence, merciful action, and love—grace—in his life. Prayer and Catholic faith have a central role in his recovery.
He works with us in Camden twice a week and has become my 12-Step and addiction tutor. There is so much to learn. It’s hard to keep kindness and compassion from crossing over to weakness and to enabling the addict.
There is one guy, Don, I have been working with pretty closely, and have been taken on the roller coaster ride that is his life. He cycles over and over through using crack, doing well, then very well, then falling hard. He’s a great guy when he’s not getting high, but is greedy, dishonest, manipulative and ungrateful when he is. Rob knows this fellow also, I shared my frustration that nothing I have done has helped him. In fact he has really abused kindness and efforts.
“What can I do? What will really do some good?” I ask Rob. “Pray.”
This is bad, but when he said that, I thought, “OK, but what should I do?”
The two people in Jesus’ story go up to the temple to pray. But the one really talks to himself—not to God. The Lord contrasts that with the sinner who is in a much better position because he has an honest assessment of his life. “Off at a distance” and “not even raising his eyes to heaven,” the tax collector has a realistic attitude—for a starting point. But God wants so much more for him and for the Pharisee. He wants them to lift their eyes to heaven and see their Creator, their Higher Power, looking back at them offering forgiveness and love.
Prayer teaches us that, lets us experience that. Prayer reminds us that our lives are always in God’s hands.
-Is there any situation where you could invite God and God’s prespective in by prayer?
-The Pope has been a big promoter of “meat and potato” Catholic prayers—especially the rosary—does that or could it help you stay connected and centered?
-Please pray for “Don” and “Rob” and all us sinners in Camden.
2. Last Week in Camden
The group from Chestnut, Philadelphia, on Columbus Day was great. Thursday the first of eight Father Judge freshmen groups came for service. Sunday another group from Chestnut Hill came for service, this time confirmation candidates from Our Mother of Consolation Parish. They got a tour of North Camden and worked in the community garden.
The DSW community took a get away retreat to recharge and reflect at the old Oblate house in Cape May.
3. Upcoming Events
Thursday students from Alexandria, Virginia’s, Bishop Ireton will arrive for a three day stay. Cristo Rey is scheduled for Saturday. Sunday is our State Street open house.
The Pope’s has a great reflection on the parable of the Sinner and the Pharisee in his Angelus talk for last Sunday.
Fr. Mike McCue, OSFS