Monthly Reflections

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May 2020

A COVID Reflection

by Camille Devaney, IVC Volunteer

It has been many weeks into our “Stay at Home” lifestyle. No contact with my nursing homes or the Domestic Violence Shelter where I normally serve. COVID hasn’t changed the status of the shut-ins; they still need food and some human contact. So, the Catholic Charities Meals on Wheels program continues and that’s how I can serve others.

I have been doing the same two routes, approximately 11 -14 clients. I know every client by name, and they know mine. They tell me about their families, their aches and pains, their neighbors and much advice on “medical” cures. Do you know that sleeping with a bar of soap in your bed makes many pains go away? Where else could I learn what is on sale at the neighborhood markets? Where else could I get hollered at for bringing the wrong meal even if I only deliver and not prepare? AND, where else could I find God every day?

Today’s presider of the livestream mass that I watch spoke about the many gifts we have been given. He made reference to an old movie “Chariots of Fire”. One of the runners knew he was being called to be a missionary, but he also was aware of his running ability. He said, “It makes God happy to see me run.”  The point is God does delight when we use the gifts He has given us.  Personally, I don’t like being home doing nothing and I do like speaking with people.  The presider this morning made me aware that God is happy as I chat with the clients on my Meals on Wheels route.

Today, two different clients invited me in for a visit and a cup of tea or coffee. Of course, I can’t do this, but I did see God smiling.  It is sad not being able to receive the Eucharist, the bread of Life. But I am reminded of a poster in the Jesuit parish in Peru.  it shows a woman with a child and reads (loosely translated): “We cannot have the Bread of Life unless we have Bread for Life.”  The Catholic Charities clients who receive their bread for life are also receiving the Bread of Life. I can find God when I go to mass literally or attend an adoration service, but currently I find Him/Her more profoundly in the face of the men and woman who come to the door.

April 2020

Safe in Their Mouth

by Rich Pozdol, IVC Alumnus

Father “Bo” T.M. Lyons, spiritual director extraordinaire, and I were having a discussion about love. “Do you think everyone knows what love really is?” he asked.

“Probably not,” I responded. “There are some people who think love only has to do with the emotions. They equate love with infatuation. The culture talks about falling in and out of love. It is beyond your control. It just happens.”

“Yes,” Father “Bo” responded. “They often do not recognize that love is an act of the will. Your relationship with God is very much an act of the will. Yet there is an element of trust.”

“I think the love of a mother for her child is an act of the will. Have you heard the expression “The baby has a face only a mother could love?”

“Yes,” replied Father “Bo”. “But I must admit that I think all babies are at least cute, if not beautiful.”

“Young children seem to have an innate sense of love,” I said. “They have complete trust. It is quite beautiful, but sometime along the way we seem to lose that trust. The experiences of the world do the damage.”

Father “Bo” noted, “much of the development of the spiritual life involves putting our trust in God. Believing He loves you, imperfections and all, and trusting Him completely. It seems we have to learn that lesson over and over again.”

“I am afraid that is so,” I replied.

“Here is a bit of wisdom from a four-year old girl,” Father “Bo” said. “In response to the question ‘how do you know someone loves you?’ the girl responded ‘They say your name different. Your name is safe in their mouth.’

Wisdom opened the mouths of the dumb and gave ready speech to infants. Wisdom 10:21

As we face the COVID 19 pandemic, there is a great deal of fear.  I see it at the grocery store as people, almost in a panic, are buying things like toilet paper. Over and over again, friends have been bidding me farewell with “be safe”. How often in the Bible are we told “be not afraid”?

I do not have to tell you what protocols to follow. This advice is everywhere. However, to feel safe we have to place our trust in God.

Entrusting Myself to the Hands of Jesus

I’ve come to think that the only, the supreme, prayer
we can offer up, during these hours
when the road before us is shrouded in darkness,
is that of our master on the cross:
“In manus tuas commendo spiritum meum.”
(Into your hands I commend my spirit.)

To the hands that broke and gave life to the bread,
that blessed and caressed, that were pierced; . . .
to the kindly and mighty hands that reach down
to the very marrow of the soul that mould and create
to the hands through which so great a love is transmitted
it is to these that it is good to surrender our soul,
and above all when we suffer or are afraid.
and in so doing there is a great happiness and a great merit.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ

Holy Week and Coronavirus

by Camille Devaney, IVC Volunteer

It goes without saying that these are strange times for all of us, bringing out many strange emotions for me. Our ministries are on hold for most of us, making me realize how much I miss the presence in the nursing homes and the shelter. Ten years of hearing a Bayside nursing home resident ask me every week, “when are you coming back?” Those words are now a prayer. The first week, the activities director either didn’t communicate well or some didn’t hear well that I would be gone indefinitely. She called the afternoon we were scheduled for mass and asked if we could pray over the PA system so the residents would relax. Probably the simplest and most profound prayer I shared with them.

Like many of us, I “watch” mass from my parish or Loyola Academy. I soon realized that I didn’t miss “going to mass” as much as sharing this experience with others. I found comfort in the Holy Trinity homily when spiritual communion was described, as I heard it, as taking what we derive from mass and sharing in doing the work of God. It doesn’t take ordination for this. In Baptism, we became a member of the Body of Christ.  We are all baptized as a royal priesthood, a holy people and a people set apart to follow Him in the work of salvation. Beside sharing in the community aspect of mass, I also realized the importance, for me, of spiritual direction, a place to share and examine my desires. Again, virtual will not be the same as face to face but better than not at all.

Finally, I don’t do well with long idle days. There is a limit to reading, cleaning and Netflix before I go crazy. The need in Catholic Charities to help with meals on wheels is very high. I decided to take on this ministry at least for now. Again, I was humbled to see how grateful the recipients are for the meal they receive. I have never heard one complaint about not liking something. Some recipients look like very able-bodied persons. I have learned gratitude for what I have and not to judge why someone needs a meal. Jesus didn’t ask the woman at the well why she had so many relationships. He loved her as she was and ministered to her.

See the archives for more reflections.