1 April 2013
Monday in the Octave of Easter
A project of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales in Camden, NJ,
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 24:1
At daybreak on the first day of the week
the women who had come from Galilee with Jesus
took the spices they had prepared
and went to the tomb.
They found the stone rolled away from the tomb;
but when they entered,
they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
While they were puzzling over this, behold,
two men in dazzling garments appeared to them.
They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground.
They said to them,
“Why do you seek the living one among the dead?
Easter 2013 was one of my worst and one of my best days in Camden. Two people I (and a number of other people in the community) invested a lot of time and hope in both “relapsed” into drug use during Holy Week. Addiction is evil; it has such power to entomb people’s real personality and their goodness. But at the same time, Easter brought out the best of Camden with this parish’s passion-filled celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus and of God’s promise of freedom and life for us all.
Francis de Sales may be best known for his memorable, pithy “good thoughts.” Perhaps the most famous are: “Be who you are and be that well” or, “Nothing is small in the service of God.” Our saint used these thoughts because they can readily be brought into the moments of daily living—to apply their good sense to whatever we encounter. They can orient us to a positive outlook that is mindful of God’s real presence and God’s perspective on life. Some initially seem contradictory or paradoxical—for example “Nothing is as strong as gentleness, nothing as gentle as true strength.” They hope to get us to think, and go below the surface-level understanding.
One he recommended for the beginning of each day, when your feet touch the floor to begin the day is: “Sleep is the image of death, rising that of the resurrection.” It brings the key mystery of Christianity, the victory of Christ over darkness, defeat, and death to the start of the day. Resurrection can seem a pretty abstract concept, especially when compared to the very graphic experience of Jesus’ passion and death on the cross. No doubt that is because human life gives so much opportunity to witness and experience weighty challenge, pain, and sorrow: what Christianity calls, “the cross.”
But it is so important not to miss the equally real resurrections that are a part of human life.
So often looking at Camden, people (myself included) look for all-inclusive solutions: “If we could just get jobs for people, or just eliminate drugs from the situation, or education is the answer! …” These, and other big ideas, have validity. But most often, it seems to me, “solutions” come one day at a time. They come as daily choices to surrender to the “Higher Power” in the face of addiction, to study, to continue to hope despite the dark and setbacks all around.
Just this Easter Monday morning—as I was typing another draft of this refection—one of the guys who relapsed came to the door to confess, to apologize. He did not ask for anything except forgiveness and for someone to hope with him as he walks away from his tomb, into this day the Lord has made.
-Do you have a usual “thought on rising?”
-Where can you see resurrection in your life today?
-Is there any part of your life where a huge stone blocks the entrance/exit to a tomb?
2. Last Week in Camden
Fifteen students from the University of Wisconsin spend their spring break—Holy Week—in Camden. Our school kids loved them, and the feeling was mutual; it was hard for them to say good-bye.
Salesianum School’s service director, Zach Ryan and Oblate Patrick Kifolo led a group of students here from Holy Thursday to Easter morning. Their main project was cleaning up and painting the New Visions Day Shelter’s big community room. Patrick christened it long ago, “a living room for those who don’t have a living room.” New Visions shares the room; so it becomes Joseph’s House homeless cafe location each night.
Speaking of Joseph’s House, director John Klein is moving us steadily forward toward the purchase of a property for Joseph’s House. In a dedicated facility, Joseph’s House will continue to offer the very basic shelter we have offered the past three winter seasons, but it will also expand to assist people with permanent supportive housing and expanded help getting aid, training, medical, and addiction care.
3. Upcoming Events
Tuesday evening students from Holy Family Parish in Newark, Delaware, arrive for a three day stay.
Check out blog entries from last year Summer Internship Program. This year the dates are
Session I May 26-June 8 Session II July 7-28! For more information contact Mike Morgan at email@example.com.
Oblate high school grad (St. Michel in Annecy, Francie 2012) and DSW intern, Raphaël Garagnon, and DSW man, Mike Morgan are volunteering in western Africa, in Benin. Check out pictures from their stay. Mike has a blog: Boy Meets Benin with more pictures and observations on life in a small city in Benin.
Pope Francis continues to delight and surprise the Church—and anyone paying attention. I want to recommend the blog Whispers in the Loggia as an easy place to access the pope’s homilies and reflections—as well as his eloquent actions that speak louder than words. His actions are thought provoking, but his speeches convey also insight and use images from our tradition in practical and moving ways. (South Philly’s Rocco Palmo writes the blog. At times he can focus on gossipy details or can be too intramural. But most often he follows the pope without the “group thinking,” naive, or misleading commentary found in much mainstream media.
I think it shows a sad lack historical awareness that some media keep describing Pope Francis’ actions as “unprecedented” or “first ever.” When you are talking about an institution that has 20 centuries of precedent, there is not much that can accurately be described that way.
Fr. Mike McCue, OSFS.