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The Holy Year of Mercy

THE HOLY YEAR OF MERCY
 "BE MERCIFUL EVEN AS YOUR FATHER IS MERCIFUL." (LUKE 6:36) 

"Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36) - See more at: http://www.portlanddiocese.org/holy-year-mercy-announcement#sthash.d7h3i...

A SPIRITUAL WORK OF MERCY

In those who are homeless, the face of Christ is revealed.  Recall the story of Christmas.  When Mary and Joseph sought a place to stay, they found no room in the inn. The Christ child, then, was born in a manger in a stable. His very birth showed forth his humility and his wish to witness the infinite love of his Father for the downtrodden and the homeless.  Sheltering the homeless allows a person to live with self-respect and dignity.
 
 “… Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today, I must stay at your house.”  (Lk 19:5) 

OPENING PRAYER

Blessed are you Lord, Ever-faithful God. You are the source of every grace and blessing.  Many in our world are lost and alone, having no one to protect them from the trials and hardships in their lives.  Help us to offer shelter, both physical and emotional, to those who are left alone to weather the storms of life.  Lord, hear our prayer. Amen.

READING

LUKE 2:4-7

And Joseph, too, went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.  While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son.  She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM
PSALM 27:1,4-5

The Lord is my light and my salvation.

The Lord is my light and my salvation,
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is my life’s refuge,
of whom should I be afraid?

R.  The Lord is my light and my salvation.

One thing I ask of the Lord;
this I seek.
To dwell in the Lord’s house
all the days of my life,
To gaze on the Lord’s beauty,
to visit his temple.

R.  The Lord is my light and my salvation.

For God will hide me in his shelter
in time of trouble.
He will conceal me in the cover of his tent
and set me high upon a rock. 

R.  The Lord is my light and my salvation.

INTERCESSIONS

For all who lack shelter or lodging: may the Church be a sanctuary where they can find protection and refuge, we pray to the Lord… 
 
Like the prodigal father who forgives unconditionally: may we welcome home to the Church all of her sons and daughters who have been away, we pray to the Lord… 
 
For all who are stewards of various material blessings and riches: may they use their resources to offer hospitality to the homeless, we pray to the Lord… 
 
For our homeless brothers and sisters who, like Lazarus, lie at the doors of our homes, cities and nation: may we open our hearts to welcome them and our doors to house them, we pray to the Lord… 

CLOSING PRAYER
WHERE SHALL WE GO?

O Lord, to whom no one is a stranger
and from whose help no one is ever distant,
look with compassion on those without a place to live;
restore them, we pray, to a home of their own,
and give us a kind heart to help the homeless in their need.
 
We ask this through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen

WORKS OF MERCY
WEEKLY SUGGESTIONS TO CONSIDER

September 4: Offer to help an elderly neighbor with household tasks or yardwork such as mowing or raking.

September 11: Volunteer or contribute to a homeless shelter.

September 18: Visit a loved one in a nursing home or stop by an elderly relative or neighbor’s home for a visit.
 
September 25: Consider becoming a homemaker or companion through Catholic Charities Maine’s Independent Support Services or S.E.A.R.C.H. programs, which both help seniors remain in their homes.  http://www.ccmaine.org/a-z-services. 

REFLECTION

SHELTER THE HOMELESS
Brother Irénée Richard, Saint Martin De Porres Residence

Father Timothy Dempsey, founder of a soup kitchen in St. Louis said, “When a man’s hungry he doesn’t need a lecture; he needs food.”  Founded in Lewiston in 1991, St. Martin de Porres Residence for the homeless will soon celebrate its 25th anniversary of doing the corporal works of mercy.  During those years, thousands of individuals have come through our doors seeking assistance. Each of these individuals has suffered some type of hunger. Some hungered for acceptance; others hungered for freedom from their addictions; some hungered for mercy; others had a hunger to return home to their families; all hungered to regain their independence and a more stable life.

Our ministry is very simple. We welcome our guests with open arms. No matter what they have done or what their issues are, we accept them where they are at, without judging them or labeling them. They are our brothers and sisters going through rough times, and we are here to say that you are okay, and things will get better if you sincerely work at it. For many of them, we become their second family. I recall this rugged young man who was rough around the edges telling us: “I have a family, but they don’t love me the way you guys love me.”

My inspiration for St. Martin’s is the result of my own encounter with a young man bouncing from one place to another, not having a place of his own.  For whatever reason, he was asked to leave his home in Vermont at age 14.  He had issues with drugs, and in order to survive, he became a hustler.  We journeyed TOGETHER for three years until his untimely death by accidental drowning at age 31.

There are three things in our relationship that stand out and that I will never forget. First, when I told him to come to the priory after work to join me for dinner, he was surprised and said: “You will wait for me?” Today, our volunteers who prepare the evening meal, as well as the house attendant, sit with our guests for dinner.  Second, on one of his visits to the priory, he said to me, “Brother, there is one thing I like about you; you don’t try to shove the Gospel down my throat.” My response was that I did not have to because the fact that I was taking time to listen to him was Gospel.  And so, at the residence, we do our best to emulate the words of St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel at all times and, if necessary, use words.”  Third, he asked, “Why are you doing this?” And I responded, “It’s because I love you and care about you.” He looked puzzled. I then asked if I had said something wrong. “I don’t know what love is,” he said.

We, at St. Martin’s, do our best to show compassion and mercy. I assure you that it is not always easy. This young man changed my life. He taught me that one does not need a degree in theology or sociology to help a neighbor, to be merciful, to show compassion.  A Dominican friar once asked St. Dominic where he had studied, St. Dominic responded: “My son, I have studied from the book of charity.”

I leave you with these words of St. Vincent de Paul: “When you leave your prayer to care for a sick person, you leave God for God: to care for a sick person is to pray.