Don’t you love this snow? I do because every Tuesday I get to go with the grade school kids to Ski-Club. One of the things that I love about this parish is that it’s in the middle of the
I think we all have that experience of not wanting to go down the hill, either because we experience a moment of sheer beauty – a mountaintop experience – or of the presence of God, in a moment of intimacy with another. We want to stay there forever. But ultimately this faith is about mountains and valleys. I found myself later in the week going down into the Valley.
On Friday, the Connections group, who are married couples in the parish, did a service project called Labre. The name comes for Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, the patron saint of homeless people. It is a program started by students of St. Ignatius to befriend the homeless and now other schools are picking it up. We met at
The primary purpose of Labre is not just to feed and clothe the homeless, but to befriend them. One of my greatest memories is when the two kids from John Carroll pulled the van to the side of the road and got out to check on a guy that was walking across a field under one of the overpasses. It turned out it was one of their long lost friends. He was mute, he literally couldn’t speak, so he began writing on a pad and explaining where he had been and where he was “living” now. He had the warmest smile and his eyes spoke volumes. We also met a couple guys who lived under a bridge. One of whom was from
I found myself truly humbled by both the homeless and these College Students. The kids from John Carroll gave up their Friday nights every week to go down into the Valley and be with the homeless. Students from Ignatius do this every Sunday and there was a student from Case who was hoping to begin Labre there.
As the night came to an end, I was freezing and hungry myself. It was a much different experience than being on top of that hill at Boston Mills looking for Adventure. Now I was coming up from the Valley counting my blessings.
Lent is a time for both Mountain Top and Valley Experiences. Jesus often went up to the Mountain to pray as He did in today’s Gospel when he took Peter, John and James with him. He invites us too, to come with him to the Mountain in prayer. To experience God in the wonder of nature, or in your room at night before you go to bed or in our Blessed Sacrament Chapel during a Holy Hour in the middle of the night. He does take us to be with him. There are many times where he probably invites you during the day to sneak off for a little while with him and go up to the Mountain. But we are also called to come down from the Mountain and go into the Valleys. How do we do this? In Lent especially, we Fast and Give Alms. We are called to go into the Valley and experience some sense of discomfort for a chance to see the Face of Christ in the Poor. Fasting and Almsgiving shouldn’t be done just to prove that we can do something… like boarding down Peter’s Pride. Fasting and Almsgiving should help us to encounter the poor. It should be done in connection with the poor. Does your Fasting and Almsgiving in some way connect you more with the poor? Find a way to connect it. Find a way this Lent to go into the Valley and encounter the Face of Christ in the Poor. Pray on the mountain top with the Lord, but also go with him too into the Valley by Fasting and Almsgiving. You may find yourself grateful for everything that you have even with all of this snow.