Vocation Blog

   

There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none, he said to the gardener, “For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree, but have found none.  Cut it down.  Why should it exhaust the soil?”

The gardener  said to him in reply, “Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it.  This tree may bear fruit in the future.  If not, you can cut it down.  --  Luke 13: 6-9

 

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 Story:  Bryan Stevenson’s book, Just Mercy, is about taking a close look at mass incarceration and extreme punishment in America.  He says the problem “is about how easily we condemn people in this country and the injustice we create when we allow fear, anger, and distance to shape the way we treat the most vulnerable among us.” (p.14).

            Stevenson believes that “the true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned.” (p.18)  In a speech he gave at St. Ambrose University this fall, Stevenson emphasized that we have to be in “proximity” to the poor and the marginalized to understand their situation and be moved to do something.

            Sometimes it’s easy for me to get discouraged when working with our youth at the Precious Blood Reconciliation Center or visiting with the young men in prison.  Is my work productive?  Is it bearing fruit?  Am I making a difference? 

            I’ve come to realize that just the act of going to see someone in prison is a corporal work of mercy and the chance to do it should be gratefully enjoyed and appreciated as a gift from God, even if the outcome is not always positive.

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 Reflection:  In this week’s Gospel reading, Jesus warns us that we are all sinners and that we must repent and change our lives.  God gives us an abundance of chances and showers us with love and mercy.

            Just as the person who had the fig tree planted in his orchard wanted to cut it down because it bore no fruit, we as a society are too quick to give up on our youth.  We are impatient for them to make changes. 

            For some of the youth we serve, the workings of grace are obvious.  All they need is a chance.  For others, grace is a potential energy not yet apparent in their attitude and behavior.  Too often our society, including parents, schools, law enforcement, the legal system, and the public at large abandon our youth, leave them for dead, and cast them into the shadows of society.

            For many youth, their problems are “rooted” in poverty, with few resources to help them “grow” and develop.   The problem starts in our schools who are all too quick to suspend and expel students rather than to look for alternative solutions to resolve problems.  One solution is to use peacemaking circles.  Peacemaking circles can take time; so schools think that it’s easier to cut out the problem.  This begins the school-to-jail pipeline, a pipeline which often ends with our youth being tried as adults, ending with our youth in prison. 

 

Ckick below for:

Reflection (Continued)

Scripture Passages to Reflect on Daiy

Lenten practices for this week

This Week’s Daily Prayer

This Week’s Point:  Too often we label someone in such a way that allows us to remain distant from them.  How would I feel if this person were my child? my brother? my sister? my parent? my spouse?  

Mike Donovan has been a Kolbe House volunteer for over ten years.  He goes into the Juvenile

Detention Center twice weekly and visits many who are sent on to the prisons

For more information about Kolbe House, visit www.kolbehouseministry.org

  

These are the young people I minister to.  I’ve dubbed them “The Lost Boys of Chicago” - - young men I met when they were 14 to 16 years old at the Juvenile Detention Center, but who were eventually sentenced to long prison terms. 

            These guys are separated from those they love, and they often become disconnected from family because almost all of the adult prisons in Illinois are located hours from Chicago.  Their families do not have the transportation or the financial resources to visit them.  Some don’t even have the money to accept their sons’ collect calls. 

            Many of these young people are alone and forgotten in the world --  throwaways --  as they serve out their long sentences.  For too many of these young men, I am the only visitor they get all year.

            It is during these visits that I feel closest to God.  I can see God’s face in these inmates.  I can see their goodness.  I always come home from these visits inspired by the patience, perseverance, strength and courage of these young men.  Despite the indignities and injustices they experience while incarcerated, I am always amazed that they never give up on themselves, their families, and most especially God.  I always wonder whether my faith is as strong as theirs.

            We are all given gifts by God.  During Lent, and especially in this Year of Mercy, what can we do to try to help those in need?  How can we make a difference that will bear fruit?

 

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Scripture Passages to Reflect On This Week

Matthew 5: 1-11        The Beatitudes

Matthew 25: 34-40   The Corporal Works of Mercy

Galatians 5: 22-23   Fruits of the Holy Spirit

Corinthians 12: 4-14; 27-30           The Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Luke 15: 1-7

Luke 5: 27-32

Mark 1: 14-15

 

 

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 Lenten Pactices for This Week

 

  • Receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation during Lent.
  • Review the Corporal Works of Mercy.    http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-we-teach/new-evangelization/jubilee-of-mercy/the-corporal-works-of-mercy.cfm    Do at least one in some way –even if it’s a little way.
  • Review the Fruits of the Holy Spirit:  http://blog.adw.org/2013/01/a-brief-treatise-on-the-fruits-of-the-holy-spirit     Ask yourself: “What gifts has the Spirit given to me?  How can I better put them into action in my everyday life?”
  • Attend the Santuario Mass at Kolbe House next Sunday  (March 6th) at 3:00 pm.  For more information about this Mass, call Deacon Pablo at 773-247-0070.
  • Read  Just Mercy.  Write in your journal for 15 minutes about how your feel about what you’ve read..  What did you read that you strongly agree with?  What did you read that you strongly disagree with?  Write  down whatever comes into your mind.   Don’t worry about spelling or grammar.  Keep your hand moving. 
         This writing is for your eyes only.  You will not be asked to share it with or show it to anyone.  Write legibly because you will be asked to  read your journal as a Lenten practice for Holy Week.

 

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This Week’s Daily Prayer

 

 

I have so few ways to pray

 

Lord,

I have so few ways to pray,

but you have so many ways to answer.

 

Keep me alert

to your unpredictable answers,

to your unexplainable surprises.

 

By Your grace, make me one of those surprises,

for the sake of the One who taught us the surprises

of moving mountains, healing touches,

wondrous stories, great banquets,

first suppers, broken bread,

crosses, and resurrections.

 

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This Week’s Point:  Too often we label someone in such a way that allows us to remain distant from them.  How would I feel if this person were my child? my brother? my sister? my parent? my spouse?

 

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Mike Donovan has been a Kolbe House volunteer for over ten years.  He goes into the Juvenile

Detention Center twice weekly and visits many who are sent on to the prisons

For more information about Kolbe House, visit www.kolbehouseministry.org

VOCATION DIRECTOR
FR. TIMOTHY MONAHAN

 

 

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