When I think about being a Permanent Deacon, a job comes to mind. A Waiter! He is preparing the Lord's Table, working hard to make sure everything is just right. His mission is to take care of the guests by helping them go through the menu and make just the right choices. How can I help you today!!
This is my weekend for ministry at the hospital. My last trip went very quickly as they were unable to retrieve a list for me and I could only see two patients. This week was a completely different story. I picked up the list and there were quite a few of people on the lists provided. I had three lists, one from Good Shepherd Parish in Berlin, Holy Family in Gorham, and Catholics with no parishes. There was a total of ten people on the lists.
My first patient to see was someone whom I've seen before. He's been in there for a while and the last time I saw him I was truly impressed by his positive attitude despite his health condition. I met another man who struggled with his health but had no complaints, we talked for about 20 minutes. I met another man who caught me off guard, he was on the list but he called the Church "a racket". This one challenged me and all I could think of was "don't worry about the words to say...!" I relaxed and didn't try to challenge him, he wasn't too happy but was very respectful of me. He even thanked me for being respectful of his wishes. I told him I would pray for him and he said " it can't do any harm!" I did my best and said goodbye to him. The other people were very respectful and then I met someone who was another challenge.
The woman was leaving the hospital and I asked if she wanted to receive Communion and she declined. She was definitely preoccupied with her health, and definitely frustrated. I wished her well and told her that I would be praying for her. This visit was very tough for me, as I had waited several minutes to see her to make sure I saw everyone. I knew her husband quite well but with what was weighing on her mind I really could understand a little what she was going through.
The trip was very different from any that I have had at the hospital. This was definitely the longest visit of them all. For the most part,I just talked with all of them with no expectations. I'm not really sure what kind of impact I had and I guess I just have to leave it in the hands of the Lord. I've been told that at times the greatest impact we can have is when we expect the least. I'm not really on any high from the trip, and that's probably how it has to be at times.
Now that I'm back on line something very special that I read last week really stirred up something inside of me. I'm sure that I have mentioned to you all that I have been keeping a journal since the start of the year. What I have written will never be enough to produce the Great American Novel, but it will probably give you some insight about the real me. I've learned that change will always be a constant in my life. The journal book I use I bought from the Word Among Us, and what I really love about it is the unique quotes that they insert at the top of the pages. No, I'm not getting an endorsement fee to plug their journal. Anyways, on Sunday the 17th at the top of the page I read this quote......
"Think well, Speak well, Do well.
These three things, through the mercy of God,
will make a person go to heaven.
-St. Camillus De Lellis
Wow! Piece of cake right? Such a simple little formula to make it to heaven. Sign me up I'm on my way. Right???? Well, how could something so simple be so challenging? Shouldn't this be very easy. Well!!!!! Yeah, I know often times we neglect to take care of the little things. What I find so fascinating is the simplicity of it all. We as Christians I think try to over complicate things and fail to do the little things right, yours truly included.
Ever since I read this I've tried to follow this very little recipe to create eternal glory! I'm really trying to get it right, after all we only have three little things to do and mixed in with the grace of God we will be there. Good luck to all of you, the secret recipe is out!
A summer ritual that Terry and I enjoy is a trip to Old Orchard Beach in Maine. We both have been going to Old Orchard at least once a year for probably as long as we have been alive. I'm sure our French Canadian heritage has something to do with that. I just love the atmosphere and the large crowds. Yeah! I know it is commercialized etc. etc. but it still is a must go place in the summer. I also have another reason to go there, Pier Fries! They have to be the best fries in the world. Pier Fries, vinegar, and salt a wonderful summer tradition. I love the waves, excellent for body surfing (no bogey boards for me) and you definitely will see someone from home any time you go there.
Well, if you haven't noticed I haven't posted anything for some time. It isn't because I've had writers cramp, it's much worse. Our hard drive was fried by a power surge and so today is the first day were back on line since last Tuesday. I hope you all survived the heat and I will be posting again soon, got to catch up on lost time.
Keeping still, has to be one of the toughest thing for a jittery person to do. For several weeks now I read the daily Scriptures before reading the reflection from the Word Among Us! Yesterday was one of those days that I had to sit back and write down the passage from the Bible that got to me.....
" The Lord himself will fight for you; you only have to keep still!" Exodus 14:14.
At times I can be very impatient; something that I am working on. I want details, I want answers, I"m trying not to let emotions get the best of me. Last week I had a situation with another store that could have gotten out of control. It was a perfect time to keep still, and not let this turn into a fight. Fortunately, by the grace of God I kept still and dealt with the situation of taking proper care of the customer, and not with the emotinal baggage that was inside of me.
At morning prayer today I shared the passage with Mike and he really liked it also. He then found me a little impatient about something and he said....remember keep still! Well, I obviously still have work to do.
Growing up, the word attitude is one I've heard many times for very different reasons. You know the terms, change your attitude, boy do you have an attitude, and so on. Several years ago I made a change in my workplace and the first change was my attitude. Working for a large corporation can be very frustrating at times, with the only constant being change is the norm. I decided that I have two choices in life, to live with and accept the changes that will always come before me, or make a career change. I decided the first choice was the only choice and I'm glad that I'm still with this company. I even put a message on my cell phone that read "attitude is everything" and I would always see it whenever I turned on the phone.
Today I went to the hospital for weekend ministry. I was warned that the hospital had made changes (remember change is the norm) and we now have a new procedure to get our list of Communicants, and with a new change it didn't go very smoothly. I had to wait a half hour and then because of the new system she was unable to retrieve a list for me. Our parish director had given me two names that she wanted to make sure I would go see. I got the room numbers for those two and headed to the fourth floor.
We almost had a class reunion of sorts as the lady at the desk, a nurse, and myself had all gone to school together since the sixth grade.The main topic was the new computer program which wasn't on any ones top ten list of favorites.
The first gentleman I saw was bedridden with some issues in life, but his attitude really stood out with me. His faith, his Love of the Lord, and his positive attitude was just wonderful. We both grew up on the east side as we spoke of times when we were both young. He was much older than I, but his eyes lit up like a teenager whenever we spoke of our first home.
I wasn't there for very long with only two people to see and one them was sleeping, so I prayed outside her door. When I left I spoke to the receptionist and she mentioned that she just had her first cold in 15 to 20 years and I said " wow, you have really been blessed!" She mentioned that she was old school, she said "sick home, or sick at work, might as well be at work!" Again another person with a wonderful and very positive attitude on life.
For the last month I have been the Lector at the 9 am Mass on Sunday morning. In some ways it is a routine and then again not. The very nice part is seeing all the faces at a very well attended Mass. The best way to describe it is that there is "life" in the celebration. It is wonderful to see all the familiar faces, just like Cheers where everyone knows your name. But, do you know what is even better? When you look around and see someone you know and think wow, have they come back?
I have been talking with my assistant manager about seeing different faces and commenting that I think there are more people attending Mass on Sunday's. She felt the same way, but you know you are never really sure if it really is happening or just wishful thinking.
Yesterday I had a service call to do at the home of friends and customers. They had a blind in their bedroom that wasn't working right and I went to get information to find out if it is still on warranty. After struggling to remove the blind and retrieving the numbers, the couple said "we are going back to Church, my son recommended and encouraged us to go back." They were so excited to share their story and the enthusiasm was contagious.This was one of the couples that I thought were coming back to Church. The husband asked me about my vocation and I had a few minutes to explain it to him, but I was really excited to see that spark and that look in their eyes.
Imagine that, it wasn't wishful thinking and they're excited to share the Good News of coming Home! There is definitely something special happening here in Berlin/Gorham, a renewal, a revival, a new Spirit! I'm so excited to witness it. My former Pastor mentioned a phrase "Ministry in the marketplace", it happens and it is real. So next Sunday look around, look at the many faces, maybe you'll see someone you haven't seen before. Say hello to them and don't be surprised that the Spirit moves them to share their joy and excitement with you.
Ever since I received the recent email from the diocese I couldn't get the title out of my head. Where have I heard something that relates to this. "Everything you need to know!" Then it hit me, Christology class. Huh! Yeah Christology class. Fr. John brought up something very moving in the class about revelation. He said that God is constantly revealing himself to us throughout the ages and we are receiving a little more each and every time we get closer to Him. Of course we won't ever get the total picture until we meet face to face but we are getting closer.
All the Candidates received this letter that reveals to us what we should be expecting in the coming year. Ironically, we are only getting to know everything we need to know for now, and later on we will obviously know more. I think this is a good thing, sometimes knowing too much can be overwhelming.
So I guess we know enough of what is to be for now, and it's time to enjoy this hot weather, the garden growing, the beautiful flowers, and the time spent with family and friends.
Tonight I attended Mass in Gorham. I'm trying to take advantage of attending Mass at least once during the week. After Mass I met up with a good friend that I've known ever since I started school. We both grew up on the east side and we both share a Love of Our Lord. We shared stories of our families and our dual needs for prayers. On my way back I thought about how much we need each other and I remembered a sign that I saw at a park in Lancaster today. The sign read " It's not me, it's not you, it's us! " Bonsoir et Adieu mes Amis!
Tonight after the 4 pm Mass we had a gathering to welcome Fr. Kyle Stanton our new Associate Pastor and to say goodbye to Fr. Steven Lepine. At the reception, at least a dozen people mentioned that they saw Mike and I in the picture. Terry and I looked at it yesterday and we both thought Tom looked like he was flexing his muscles. Tom is the one to right of the Bishop as you are looking at the picture. Don't we look like the best body guards a Bishop could ask for? While checking out the rest of Parable I noticed the picture of the food distribution event that we had in Berlin. I saw a tall gray man to the right with a gray hooded sweatshirt (Boy's in the hood remember) and a dark blue vest. Wow! I didn't think I was that gray. Yeah, it's me smiling as usual. Anyways, tonight I have to say that I am most proud to be part of something very special, and that without a doubt this group of men are probably some of the finest men this state has ever seen.
Good day my brothers, God Bless you and until we meet again on the 20th......
Adieu mes Amis!
PS Terry and I are headed to my best friend's house for......you guessed it, a fire!
This morning I shook up my routine a bit, instead of beginning with morning prayers I got up took a look outside and then looked at the dogs and said "do you want to go for a walk?" If anyone of you know anything about dogs, it's that they go ballistic at the thought of going for a walk. We traveled together and headed to the park where other dog lovers gather on a Saturday morning. It had been some time and we were joined by three other people and four other dogs. Every one got along great, and it was a really great distraction.
I got back around 10 and sat down to do my morning prayers. I think the change was good, I was relaxed and the walk put me in a really great frame of mind. After the prayers I read the Scripture readings for the day. I ended with the Gospel of Matthew today and there it was....."What you hear whispered..." Flashback time! Didn't I just hear someone last week remind me to listen to that voice that whispers to you! On this journey that I'm on I have noticed that words or messages seem to keep popping into my life. I kinda of wonder if it's because I haven't quite caught on the first time.
Today's Gospel was so special, one that really tugs away at your heart. "You are worth more than many sparrows!" mt 10:31 a phrase that I have heard at least one hundred times in my life and yet did I really ever hear it or believe it? Today for probably the first time I heard it and really believed it. Like my relationship with my wife & my best friend, my relationship with Jesus is growing and becoming so important in my life. It truly is something I never want to let go of.
In one of our classes Deacon Greg mentioned that there were no coincidences. I obviously needed to change things up today and to get myself ready to hear the little whispers of Our Lord. Today for a least a few moments, I listened and it was great!
Bonsoir et Adieu mes Amis,
PS This french stuff is really catching on, check out the latest issue of Parable.....Priez sans cesse (Keep praying, pray without ceasing)
It's Friday and it's time to reflect on the holiday shortened week that was. Monday was awesome. Praying in the Adoration Chapel with Mike M. and attending Mass at 8 am. I was able to also attend Mass on Tuesday evening down in Gorham. Fr. Mark was the celebrant and two words were used that caught my attention. On Sunday he had spoken about paradoxes, how at parades horses have been used for so many years especially when the warriors or kings would come back victorious from battle. Fr. mentioned how our Lord used that when he entered Jerusalem triumphantly, yet not on a horse. The paradox of Jesus using an ancient tradition and turning them upside down, and yet without the fanfare and extravaganza that we are all accustomed to.
Tuesday night Fr. Mark spoke two words in his homily. One I was very familiar with "Nike" and one that I was totally unaware of "Nika". He explained that Nike was from the Greek language, the goddess of victory. I'm now sure that the selection of the name was carefully thought of by the founder of the company. Then Fr. explained the word "Nika" which is very similar with Nike, with the exception of just one letter. The word Nika means "Jesus Christ conquers" in Russian. Wow! As a salesperson some of my thoughts were moving as to t-shirts being made and cute slogans. This could really take off! Wait, shouldn't someone else have thought of this already and done it? Again, without fanfare the message can get out and it all depends on us.
On Wednesday I got the chance to talk with Fr. Steve about his soon to be move to another church as pastor. It was nice to have a one to one with him even though it was only for a few minutes. I promised to pray for him and support him in any way that I could. I guess sometimes it is time to let someone go and yet stay as close as possible. He shared how he handled the looming death of another friend and how important it was to have even a few precious moments with them.
Lastly today, and this has been a Spirit filled day. I met with a friend who confided in their struggles again. I spoke to this person by relating the life of St. Therese the little flower and how this person needed to focus on the little gifts we receive each and every day. This person was encouraged by the support and asked for my prayers. This morning before prayer time I read the Scriptures which spoke of not worrying about what to say, and sure enough the words came to me and the hope that only Jesus can bring was conveyed.
Today made me realize and reflect on what a friend commented to me about this blog. He said that I noticed that you seem to find the Lord in the little things that happen in life. And so it happens through the intercession of St. Therese I passed on her message of looking for the many little gifts or messages we receive each and every day. I guess today the radar was fully functional at least for the right moments.
For quite a few years now our parishes have had a good old fashioned 4th of July family picnic in the back yard at Holy Family Church in Gorham. Terry is working today so I decided to attend the affair. This was the very first time that I participated in this event.
I had to bring a dish and wasn't quite sure what to bring so I stopped by a store to pick up a few things and offered them. Even though most of the people had already eaten I noticed before I left that all the food that I brought was gone, I guess I chose wisely.
The event was great! I got a chance to talk to many parishioners, friends, and even had a chance to do a water balloon toss. We did well but didn't win, but I didn't get wet either! I felt a nudge from inside to be there, to be visible, to share, and have fun. Next year I will be making a dish, arriving earlier, but most of all I will let as many people as possible know that they should just be there also.
For several months now Terry and I have been planning and really looking forward to heading back to Canada after three years. We planned this way back promising to use our tax refund to get our passports. So yesterday was the big day. Three years of staying out of Canada because we didn't have a passport or a card. We left early with my Mom and my cousin. The trip there is about two and half hours. We arrived at the border across from Beecher Falls Vt. and we were met by a very friendly Canadian Border guard. He asked us the typical questions that we were expecting and he threw in one about pepper spray and mace being illegal in Canada and to declare it isn't a problem, but to not and they find out we had it certainly would be. No problem for us, as we have never had this. We asked a question that was on our mind, about whether or not passports were really necessary. His answer was "NO!" He said our media was supplying us with misinformation, probably to scare us our avoid us spending dollars in Canada. Anyways we arrived at the reunion about 10 am and had breakfast with some of our family members. People continued to arrive throughout the day and it was everything we had hoped for, family, beautiful weather and my Mom smiling all day long. The joy in her face was so priceless we stayed until about 8 pm. A trip to Canada wouldn't be complete without Canadian curd cheese, the kind that is used in making poutine (a french Canadian tradition). We were unsure because of the time whether or not the dairy would be open and sure enough it was. We traveled back home after a short break and arrived back late, and both of us were sleeping by 11:30 pm.
Today I was lector again for the third straight week. I replaced someone a couple of weeks ago and I was scheduled the last two weeks. Fr. Mark was the celebrant and again he didn't disappoint in his homily. I will need to ask him how he can do it so well with no notes. The man is simply amazing. He gets to the point and the message is so clear. Mass moved along quickly and at the end of Mass he made his final announcements and then looked at his watch and said " Mitch, we still have 15 minutes left, do I do another homily?" I said "Yes!" He said "No!" On the way out he reminded me the answer is always...."No!" We were all at the entrance of the Church and talking with everyone as they left and unlike times in the past, I get the sense that people wanted to talk, to share, and just say Hi! Maybe it was because of my reading for the past few weeks, maybe it was because it was a holiday weekend, and maybe it's because the Spirit is moving all of us in this direction.
After Mass as I was walking to my car I saw my best friend's uncle who is battling cancer. He nearly died a while back and I was shocked to see that he attended Mass. We talked, we shared, we laughed, and best of all we were together. I touched him on the shoulder and told him I would pray for him. Again, the Spirit is there and stirring something inside of all of us.
I went to see my folks after Mass and they asked me to go out to dinner with them. I told them I would be back after I changed and they said 12:30 would be great. I picked them up and they said "You pick Mitch!" I said let's go to Mr. Pizza in Gorham. We arrived and sat down, looked at our menu's and then a lady came over to hug my Mom. It was my cousin from Virginia. Coincidence, I think not! We had another little reunion sharing, breaking of bread, laughing, and being there with each other.
This has been my weekend so far, a little bit of everything, kinda like a smorgasbord of life. Looking back I couldn't help but think of what my friend Steve said at the funeral on Friday, "listen to that inner voice,.....and just do it, whatever the Spirit moves you to do!"
Today I pushed hard to get out of work early to attend a funeral of a friend. Paul was a very good man who had a passion to run and was the High School coach for the Cross Country team. He had been battling cancer for some time and unfortunately lost that battle, but he left his mark in this world. The attendance was fitting for a man who gave so much to many youth in Berlin.
The Mass was very touching in so many ways. There were so many former and current athletes who came to pay their respect to their coach. Fr. Steve was the celebrant and he spoke very well, especially when he tied in St. Paul's letter to Timothy about fighting the good fight.....and running the good race.
Another coach and very good friend of mine also Steve paid his tribute to Paul and also spoke with words that touched the heart. He began by quoting the coach "there are two types of people in this world, those who just do it, and those who say they can't! Paul was one who just used his gifts and lived to the fullest with no regrets. Then Steve, a faithful man, asked us this "When you hear that inner voice speaking to you, listen, go out there and feed the hungry, hold some one's hand, do whatever it takes. Don't make excuses, don't whine about it, JUST DO IT!"
Needless to say something was stirring very deep inside of me and I just had to share it with all of you. A few days ago I mentioned how I was asked "How are you going to do it?" Amazingly today I was inspired again by St. Paul by reading his likely response to that question....."I CAN DO ALL THINGS IN CHRIST!"