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


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.

Monday, August 29, 2016

“Jesus, I trust in You” …well…sort of.

Christianity at its core, is based upon trust, trust in Jesus Christ, in His love for us, in His promise of salvation, in His forgiveness, in His “unfathomable Divine Mercy”, and in the knowledge that He is with us “always, until the end of the age”. (Matthew 28:20). So vital is this principle that the Psalmist implores us in Psalm 37:3,5 to “Trust in the LORD and do good…Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will act”.

But how many of us truly “trust in the Lord”? How many of us despite our regular attendance at Mass, reading of Scripture, participation in Eucharistic Adoration, and daily devotions such as the Rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet, or any number of Litanies are really nothing more than shallow water swimmers whose “trust in the Lord” is really confined to the four walls of the Church, or the four walls of our family and friends, the four walls of our prayer group or the four walls of our comfort zone? 

Friday, August 19, 2016

"...simply love first"

We as Catholics are blessed with a richness and fullness to our faith that all too often, we unfortunately constrict, constrain, and confine in a manner that Jesus Christ never intended. We have an amazing triad of divinely inspired dogma, doctrine and devotions that when properly embraced, truly set us free to be Christ to our brothers and sisters. Sadly however, too many Catholics become so entrenched in dogma, doctrine, and devotions (i.e. Rosaries, Chaplets, Jesus Prayer, Novenas, litanies, etc.) that their hearts are unable to see what the eyes of Christ call us to envision. 

If our dogma, doctrine or devotions are not drawing us out into the uncertainty of the deep waters, then we reduce them to serving merely as barriers that confine us in the shallows where safety abounds.  If our doctrine, devotions or dogma do not draw us out of our comfort zones into those places we’d much rather avoid, then we reduce them to nothing more than a straight-jacket that constrains us into ourselves. If our devotions, doctrine, or dogma do not physically draw us into the darkness of the world to shed light, then we reduce them to nothing more than a ‘lamp hidden away under a bushel basket’ (see Luke 11:33), whose light is constricted, serving no purpose and having no value.

How can we call ourselves Christians if we are not fully willing to abandon the safety of the shallow water and follow Him? A great lesson that we can learn from our Protestant brothers and sisters is to simply LOVE first, last, and always, then the triad of our faith, (dogma, doctrine, devotions) can serve in the manner truly intended, as a set of wings that enable us soar limitlessly, rather than as a set of shackles that confine us to the four walls of our comfort zone. 

"...dishonor for the sake of the name."

“Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this faithless and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:38). This particular passage is one that if properly considered by the Christian, is one that is full of promise, hope, and undoubtedly, a fair amount of trepidation.  For here, as in so many of Christ’s teachings, there is no ambiguity, no parable that must be “unwrapped”, and no meaning beyond the simplicity of the statement. Those of us who are ashamed of Him, He will be ashamed of when He is standing before the Heavenly Father.
Perhaps we’re thinking, “well, that doesn’t apply to me because I’m not ashamed of Christ and I’ll talk about Him to anyone who wants to discuss Him. I go to Church regularly, I pray every day, I attend all kinds of retreat programs and/or faith study programs and we talk about our Lord at those programs regularly”. This is all great stuff and can be valuable in developing a deeper appreciation for aspects of faith, but, it is sadly nothing more than swimming in the shallow end of the pool, or fishing in your favorite pond, re-catching the same fish every time you visit, releasing them back into the pond when you depart, comforted in the knowledge that they’ll be there next week when you return. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Joy of the Gospel

This past week was one of extremes, tremendously positive on the one hand, and in one instance, one that was anything but, although it was still an encounter filled with beauty - in terms of what one is able to learn of oneself. The purpose of this reflection however is to speak specifically to something that has been a trend throughout our journey within the community, (a journey that has brought us now to 2,188 homes) and that something was viscerally crystallized today in 5 successive encounters with members of the Charlton Baptist Church.

In Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation ‘Joy of the Gospel’, he writes that “We become fully human when we become more than human, when we let God bring us beyond ourselves in order to attain the fullest truth of our being. Here we find the source and inspiration of all our efforts at evangelization. For if we have received the love which restores meaning to our lives, how can we fail to share that love with others?” Truly, a remarkable statement from a remarkable individual that speaks to the very essence of whom Jesus Christ is, and, who He calls each of us to be. Today, as we encountered these 5 consecutive Baptist families, we were struck by the genuine love in their eyes, the burning flame of hope in their hearts, and a peace within their beings that spoke to the clarity with which they see Christ in everything they do and everyone they meet. It was, in every sense of the word, a true encounter with the Risen Christ.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

"...if it does not have works"

Our Apostolate is in the early stages of its endeavor 
to respond in some small way to our Lord’s charge to “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). To date, we have visited 1,502 homes and have received and responded to 524 Prayer Requests. During two particular visits we found families struggling immensely under the weight of severe economic pressure and in both cases we returned (unrequested and unexpected) with gift cards for food and other necessities in the amount of $100 per family. Subsequent to our return, we learned of individuals who hadn't eaten an actual meal in two days. There are others we are witness to and we will continue to do everything within our means to provide some level of relief.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

"...and your joy may be complete"

There are many moments that make up a day, some are significant in their magnitude, others, remarkable merely because of their simplicity. While engaging our brothers and sisters today, one very simple moment struck me as being remarkable and at the same time magnificent - merely because of its simplicity. Walking up a driveway to make contact with a homeowner I could hear Team members Brenda and Victoria speaking with a homeowner on the other side of the street. Though I was unable to understand the verbal exchange they were engaged in, I was not at a loss to recognize a sudden explosive laughter erupting from one of the Team members (Brenda) that was simply and magnificently beautiful. As I continued up the driveway, I found myself smiling, while verbally thanking God for the ability to witness such love, comfort, and joy in bringing Him to those outside the four walls of the Church.

"'s not dogma, doctrine, or devotions"

Yesterday's journey was remarkable in terms of the disparity we witnessed among residents of what is considered to be a somewhat affluent middle-class community. It's certainly not the first time we have encountered such, nor will it be the last, but it provides a stark reminder of the economic challenges and hardships faced by many of our brothers and sisters, while simultaneously calling each of us to reflect upon the blessings we have. It also challenges each of us to go deeper in our engagement with, and outreach to, our neighbors. It reminds those of us whose choose to accept this "call" that we cannot sit within the safety and comfort of the four walls of the Church, merely praying for those who struggle, or supporting causes brought before us at Mass; clearly these are worthy endeavors, but, if we are to truly "take up our cross[es] and follow [Christ]" (Matthew 16:24) then we must walk with Him, and, for Him among our brothers and sisters, “Go[ing] into the whole world and proclaim[ing] the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15).

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

A Missionary reflects on a "...flicker of hope"

I am so blessed to be able to walk this amazing journey as a Missionary of Mercy to help bring our message of hope, faith, mercy, prayer and love to our neighbors. Each time we begin our walk and end our walk, we stand and pray outside in the open to show others that we are not ashamed of our Faith. We ask our Lord to direct our steps and give us the words we need to bring Jesus to them, hopefully touching their hearts. We meet every person where they are at and let them know we are here for them, and we will pray with them and for them.

Every encounter is unique. Sometimes we meet someone who feels that their prayers fall on deaf ears. But they still ask us to pray for them and we always do. Sometimes during our conversation, we will see a little flicker of hope in their eyes.  I truly believe that little flicker of hope, will lead to the lighting of the candle of faith and eventually will lead them back home to God.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Missionaries of Mercy featured on Vatican T.V.

The Missionaries of Mercy were recently featured on Voice of the Vatican T.V. as our Pastor - Fr. Bob Grattaroti, was interviewed during his recent trip to Rome.  At the time of his visit we had just reached 300 home visits, we have now visited 1,304 homes in our Parish.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Let us never be ashamed

"Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this faithless and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels." (Mark8:38)

During a conversation the other night a group of us considered the limits of individual willingness to publicly profess Christ (in word and deed) in any and every aspect of our lives. The discussion began to focus on one's general ability/freedom to speak openly of Christ when in a group of like-minded individuals (e.g. within the four walls of the Church), and, how people often tend to be more guarded with public declarations/actions of the Lord, when outside of that safety net. I began to share some of the experiences we as Missionaries of Mercy have had because of our willingness (despite our own personal trepidation at times) to "put out into deep water and lower our nets for a catch" (Luke 5:4). 

Monday, June 13, 2016

‘Missionaries’ visit Charlton neighbors

The following news article was written by and for the Catholic Free Press, by reporter/staff member Tanya Connor.

By Tanya Connor
CHARLTON – Lay volunteers from St. Joseph Parish are going door to door in town – to share God’s love.
As of Wednesday they had visited 1,092 homes, according to parishioner Thomas Creamer, who started this outreach, with support from his pastor, fellow parishioners and The Catholic Free Press.

“It was one of the responses to our Holy Father proclaiming the Year of Mercy, especially when he says, ‘Let everybody in, and you go out and welcome them,’” said the pastor, Father Robert A. Grattaroti.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

"...I'll take that bag, if you'll still give it to me,"

"...and may those whose hearts have hardened or are experiencing bitterness within their beings, find a seed of hope that may turn them back to You Lord, for it is only in You that true peace rests.  Such were the closing words of prayer as we ended a rather full day of neighborhood visits today in what became a nature-filled journey to 104 homes. 

Accompanied at different times by rabbits, wild turkeys, geese, a "bear", some "deer", the beauty of singing birds and flowing streams that completely soothed the heart and the mind, we found ourselves experiencing a day of quiet calm under foreboding skies. Though the "threat" of the "bear" turned out to be man-made, it's initial appearance prompted one startled Team member to query another with the likes of "I hope you're as much of a bear-whisperer as you are a dog-whisperer. Fortunately, we never had to find out. 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

"what makes a person whole"

Turn on the news, scan your social media, or flip open a newspaper and your bound to find a miracle 
that will both inspire and move you. Someone survives a three-lane rollover, a tornado takes an odd turn at the last moment, inexplicably sparing a mother and her infant child who lay in wait - a short, few feet away. Even now on Facebook the "Missouri Miracle" is again making the rounds - an ABC News Story that aired back in June 2015 about a man who appeared out of nowhere and began praying as workers tried to extricate a woman from a crushed vehicle, then suddenly disappearing after the rescue, even from the photos taken at the crash scene that day.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

"every bit our brothers and sisters"

During his general audience on Wednesday, April 13, 2016, Pope Francis reflected on the calling of Matthew to discipleship by Jesus. A sinner and a tax collector for the Romans, Matthew - a Jew himself - was despised by Jews because he represented the whole of Roman occupation and dominance.  Christ however, sees in Matthew a brother who was created "in the image of God" (Gen 1:27) and it is in that simple recognition of who each of us is that rests the entirety of Christ's ministry.

Christ saw every individual as His brother and sister - created in the "image and likeness" (Gen 1:26) of His Father, while simultaneously witnessing to their dignity as His children - fully participating within His Person in the Most Holy Trinity. In so doing, Jesus took every opportunity to meet His brothers and sisters, sons and daughters where they were at, physically, mentally, and spiritually, rather than where He was.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Q90.1 Radio Spot

We're thrilled, and grateful to our Pastor - Fr. Bob, to be sponsoring two radio spots per day for the next month on Christian Radio The Q 90.1.  Click on the "play" button ">" on the sound App above to hear the radio spot. Thanks as well to our brothers and sisters at The Q 90.1, Charlton.

Friday, April 22, 2016

"yet I live, no longer I"

Each day, as we step further outside of ourselves, the comfort of who we are within the four walls of our home, the four walls of our Church, we travel deeper into the place that our Lord, Jesus Christ calls us to. Each day, His voice is ever clearer, ever the more familiar, and ever the more challenging. For with each step we take on this journey for Jesus, one begins to sense a stillness within one's heart that defies the challenge we are faced with. 

Traveling out on an uncharted course (insofar as our personal experience) should logically create an ever-expanding sense of trepidation, reluctance, and perhaps even resignation, particularly in a world where faith is expected to remain hidden. Yet, with every step, every prayer, and every thought of our Lord's trials in the desert, the challenges to His ministry, the rejections from those He loved, and the suffering He willingly undertook for our salvation, one finds a growing sense of peace, hope and charity settling within the heart that is beyond explanation. 

" deed and in truth"

"Heavenly Father, we offer this journey to You, praying that You will sanctify our actions, inspire our hearts, guide our speech, and uplift our souls, so that our steps this day may serve solely to glorify You. We pray that the hearts and minds of those we engage - whether directly or through some inspired words, perhaps found within the material we provide, may help to open them to the movement of the Holy Spirit - that they may then be blessed with a greater desire for You. And we pray, that all we visit today may find - even if only for a moment, a Peace within themselves that can only be found in You and through You. We ask all of this through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord and Savior. Amen."

And so began the second day of our "Journey for Jesus", walking the road less traveled, as we - within the confines our hearts, minds, and souls - venture into the "desert" - hoping that with every step, every door, and every encounter, we might leave a seed that may take root and one day flourish for Christ.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Did You Know?

That only 24% of U.S. Catholics report that they attend Mass every week. (CARA).

That there are 25 million Americans who no longer self-identify themselves as Catholics. (CARA).

In the United States, Christians will decline from more than three-quarters of the population in 2010 to two-thirds in 2050, and Judaism will no longer be the largest non-Christian religion. Muslims will be more numerous in the U.S. than people who identify as Jewish on the basis of religion. (PEW)

Sunday, April 17, 2016

A Works of Mercy Ministry

The Missionaries of Mercy is a Works of Mercy ministry whose mission is to bring the love and mercy of God to all of our brothers and sisters through the Spiritual and Corporal works of mercy - one prayer at a time, one person at a time, one neighborhood at a time. Through prayer, personal interaction, neighborhood engagement, and helping-hands for those in need, we seek to foster love, restore hope, and enrich souls. 

We will be visiting neighborhoods throughout our Parish, extending the merciful hand of Jesus Christ, His Church, our Pastor, and our parishioners, sharing the Good News, while providing "Hope Bags" containing information about our Church, our Ministry, our Prayer Line - accompanied with refrigerator magnets and wallet cards, as well as information about our Diocese and current affairs via the Catholic Free Press, who is graciously providing newspapers for our missionaries endeavors.


Yesterday at the 4:30 Mass, eight Missionaries were commissioned by our Pastor - Fr. Robert Grattaroti to "go forth and bring the love and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, on behalf of His Church to all the people". Each of the missionaries (Brenda, Jeannine, Kimberly, Melissa, Paulette, Susan, Tom, and Victoria) were presented with a 3 inch wooden cross and a picture identification badge that were blessed in front of the congregation followed by a formal blessing of each team member.

And so begins the journey to bring the love and mercy of God to our brothers and sisters reaching out to them beyond the four walls and safety of our church - meeting them where they are, rather than where we are.

We ask you to Pray for us, pray for our church, pray for our Pastor, and pray for those who are desperately in need of God's Mercy.