A Lenten Message from a Parishioner
Henri Nouwen has written: “Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions.”
The season of Lent has begun, a time to face such questions and seek a deeper conversion of heart and behavior. The key to asking these questions and answering them in an honest way is a spirit of vulnerability and an honest recognition of who we are as God’s children and servants of one another.
Unless we start with that kind of self-assessment, all our Lenten prayers and works will have little value. We may change for a short time and “do the right thing” for a while, but we will soon relapse to the way we used to be. We need to step aside from the position we have in our community, from our economic status, even from the way others view us and look up to us.
All those things are mere details about who we really are. Lent requires us to abstract from all the superficial views of ourselves. It requires that we see ourselves essentially, that is, as God sees us. Only from that essential viewpoint can we ask the essential questions.
In my view, if we all took this essential view of ourselves as children of God and servants of one another, our communities would look very different, our behaviors would radically change, the amount of anger, division, blame and fear would be radically reduced, and we would be more at peace within ourselves and with each other.
What is happening in our country, and in the world at large as well, is not merely a matter of politics, or race, or economics. What God wants of us in Lent is simply to ask ourselves who we are in relationship to God and who we are in relation to others.
Asking these questions honestly and then asking ourselves the essential questions that Nouwen mentions above will open us to a better way of living, of seeing, of being. Without such an essential self-examination, we will only contribute to the division, hatred, fear and blame that tear our communities apart and prevent us from being what God wants us to be.
St. Vincent de Paul
Going on home visits for St. Vincent de Paul is often a difficult task. We do not carry checkbooks with us. We’re given a budget for the week, and whether we have one call or eight calls, we try to stay within that budget. About three-fourths of our budget is from our weekly offerings at Mass, the rest comes from the thrift store in Tara Plaza.
One of the most difficult tasks on these visits is determining how to spend the money. In December, we came across a young family with four children: ages 12, 3, 2 and 1. Mom worked part-time with grandma watching the kids. Dad did well with his seasonal job. Unfortunately, although he was a careful driver, someone hit him and he will be out of work for 12 weeks. He has no disability insurance.
Their bills piled up. OPPD sent them a disconnect notice for $427.30 and their rent of $1,129.00 was late. There were other bills to consider also, and this call happened to come just before Christmas.
It’s times like these when there is not enough money in the budget to help with all the calls, and you just want to “fix” whatever you can with the folks you visit. When we visit, we talk with the folks, listen to their needs, suggest other possible solutions or avenues for help, and we pray with them. We are often their only link with Christ.
These visits are difficult, but they are also so rewarding. I have not been on a home visit where I haven’t been blessed. We see the face of Christ in those that we visit. It’s a blessing to go on these visits.
We were able to work with Heartland Family Services to get the rent paid. A prayer group adopted them for Christmas and was able to take care of the OPPD bill, as well as get a few gifts for the kids. It was heartwarming to see so many people come together to help.
You can help St. Vincent de Paul by:
- Volunteer to go on home visits
- Volunteer at the Thrift Store in Tara Plaza,
- Donate to the Store, and Shop at the Store
- Use your SVDP offering envelopes, or put a check in the offering for SVDP
If you are interested in volunteering, please call the church office at: 402-339-3285 or Sue at: 402-709-6975.
If you have large donations, please call the SVDP Thrift Store at: 402-341-1688 for a pick up, or drop your items at the Tara Plaza SVDP Thrift Store.
Please shop the Thrift Store. Watch for the special St. Vincent de Paul Boutique, on Sunday, March 26, 9:00-2:00 at the Steinhausen Center!