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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

"...shouldering burdens that many of us simply can't imagine."

Over the last ten months, the Missionaries of Mercy has been transitioning from a specific, parish-based ministry, to a less geographically constrained entity.  To that end, rather than limiting our ministry to the confines of Charlton, we have heeded God’s call to expand our efforts to individuals and groups within the greater Worcester area. Responding to this call we have been graced to find ourselves fulfilling requests for food, children’s items, bedding, and basic necessities in Southbridge, Oxford, Auburn, and Worcester. We have been, and continue to be blessed with opportunities to cook and serve meals at Abby’s House, Jeremiah’s Inn, and the emergency homeless shelter located in the basement of St. John’s Catholic Church. This shelter, affectionately and aptly named Hotel Grace, opens its doors each night when the temperature dips below 32 degrees, welcoming the homeless with open, loving, and merciful arms.

Through these expanding efforts, we have become ever-more aware of the vast need that exists within our communities, evidenced so clearly through the struggles of our brothers and sisters. Equally so, we have become ever-more aware of our responsibility to go beyond the comfortable, the safe, and the good enough; extending ourselves instead, well beyond that which we deem adequate. In so doing, we have found ourselves less and less attached to the things of this world, and more assigned to those opportunities that God confronts us with each day to serve Him by being of greater service to our brothers and sisters. It is in this service that each of us is gracefully reminded that there exists nothing special in simply doing that which we are all expected to do – “love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34-35), for each of us is called to minister to our brothers and sisters where they are, not where we would prefer them to be. But, if each of us can muster the genuine desire to step outside of the four walls of our comfort zone, be it our home, our job, or our church, then we can experience just how special our brothers and sisters are in shouldering burdens that many of us simply can’t imagine. 

Saturday, October 1, 2016

"...God never ceases to draw man to Himself."

In 1957, Mother (Saint) Teresa wrote “I am told God lives in me, and yet the reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul”. This woman, though small in stature, loomed larger than life to most, and throughout much of her public ministry - replete with amazing deeds of genuine charity, she struggled through a blackness that many consider incomprehensible, at least in their contemplation of who they think this saintly person was.

In truth, all human beings experience a “darkness and coldness and emptiness…so great that nothing touches [our] souls”, but in all too many instances we are simply not aware enough of the real presence of God in our lives to recognize that blackness. Not unlike the man who steps out of his storm cellar after a tornado has leveled everything around him and declares, “there’s nothing wrong here”, so too most of us see ourselves as “nothing wrong here” because we are simply unable to see who we truly are. It’s not that we don’t want to see ourselves, but rather that we are too immersed in the distractions of the world to be able to do so. Without God’s graces and our complete trust in Him, we are simply unable to truly witness to who we really are. Saint Teresa’s gift from God was that she was able to truly see, experience, and live the emptiness inside her – despite a universe of distractions, while continuing to serve our Lord in every person she encountered. She trusted in God unceasingly and because of that trust, though she was unable to see the Christ within herself, she was able always to see Him in the struggling, suffering, hopelessness she witnessed in so many that stood before her.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Joseph's Closet

Over the last five months, we have had the opportunity - through the graces and blessings of the Holy Spirit - to have visited over 2,400 homes in our community. During this time, we have been witness to a significant level of suffering, sometimes physically, most often financially, emotionally and spiritually. When possible we have provided assistance and support by way of empathetic and merciful dialog, prayer (both on-site and via our prayer ministry), and economic assistance.

The economic assistance has consisted of gift cards, (12 to date), clothing and basic furnishings necessary to daily living, and in three instances, short-term accommodations for homeless individuals while we worked to relocate them to more stable living conditions, simultaneously working to connect them with social service agencies. Most recently we supported efforts for a young single mother-to-be by helping to coordinate and provide some needed items for this individual and her child.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

"awesome-sauce"

Approaching a woman early today as she was playing with 4 young children in her driveway, we introduced ourselves, the purpose of our visit and commented about the beauty of seeing her in the yard with these four joy-filled children, all strutting around merrily on their tricycles. She smiled warmly, thanked us and then asked, “why do they make you do this”? Not quite fully understanding the nature of her question I asked her to explain to which she said, “why does the church make you do this, go door-to-door?”. We explained that we choose to do what we are doing because we believe in prayer and that regardless of whether people are believers in God or otherwise, the vast majority of them always welcome prayer on their behalf. We continued by saying that Christ calls us to “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15), and that this journey has been extremely rewarding. She then offered some information about herself and her family and asked if we would pray for them, as she extended her hand and thank us for what we are doing. As we started to depart, one of the children, a girl perhaps no older than 4, called us to us and said, “be careful on the road so you don’t get hit”; we smiled, thanked her and promised we would stay close to the side of the road, which met her absolute approval.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

"...nobody goes door-to-door anymore."

As I approached a home yesterday, while other Team members engaged residents on the opposite side of the street, I was met with a look of shock, followed by a burst of nervous laughter after introducing myself and stating the purpose of my visit. Asking what I had missed, I was informed that the two women – a mother and a daughter, were just discussing their faith journey (both are members of the Charlton Baptist Church) and how sad it was that “nobody goes door-to-door anymore”. It was within moments of that discussion that I entered their driveway after rounding a thicket of bushes extending out onto the street blocking any view they would have had of our presence in the neighborhood.  Immediately, one of the remarked about “God always giving us what we need, when we need it”, as the three of us entered into a beautiful discussion of faith, Jesus Christ and His message of love.