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Vocation Reflection: “How to Survive (or Thrive Through) Midlife Crisis”

By Jarek Pachocki, OMI - Vocation Director
"When you reach a certain age in life you might experience a crashing transition of identity, purpose and self-confidence, often referred to as a midlife crisis. (…) The experience of Covid19 pandemic might intensify this painful experience even more. So how does one survive a midlife crisis? You can dye your hair, buy a motorcycle or a boat, travel the world… or you can take more fiscally affordable approach and actually thrive though the experience.” 
Read the reflection here (published on Friday May 7): https://omilacombe.ca/become-an-oblate/

I also invite you to join the conversation at our next Vocations Café this Friday, May 7 at 2:00pm Eastern Time. It will be streamed LIVE on OMI Lacombe Canada Facebook Page fb.me/missionaryoblates This time I’ll be chatting with Fr. Shanil Jayawardena OMI from the General Service of Oblate Communications in Rome.

 

Thank you for praying for and encouraging vocations to the Oblate religious life!

Jarek Pachocki OMI
OMI Lacombe Canada - Vocation Director





ABIDE IN ME!

Listen to Jesus this Sunday as he begins one of His most amazing statements: “I am the vine; you are the branches...” (John 15:5). Today’s Gospel text is part of Jesus’ “farewell discourse” during his Last Supper with his disciples. Jesus has already told his disciples about his departure and asked them not to be troubled or afraid because he assured all his disciples that His father will send the Paraclete to be their advocate.  Then Jesus said: “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in them bears much fruit.” Jesus uses the metaphor of a vineyard to tell them that they must remain in his love and act as his disciples. What Jesus wants to teach us in today’s gospel is the extreme necessity for us to remain or abide in Him. So, what does it mean to abide? It comes from the Greek word “meno”, which means “remain, live, stay, dwell.” John, the evangelist used these metaphors in his writings to help us see the reality of our relationship to the Lord. Abiding simply means we belong to Him; it denotes our connectedness. This connectedness and intimacy with the creator are crucial in our Christian- spiritual journey. Firstly, we are called to remain in God. For me, it is not just a belief in Christ rather it is having a conscious awareness of His presence throughout our life. It is also a self-realization of one’s own inadequacy to live and move without His presence (Acts 17:28). The German- American existentialist philosopher Paul Tillich describes God as “the ground of all Being.” The idea is that everything we are – our very life and existence, not only comes from God but remains completely connected with God in every way. Nothing, including us, exists apart from God. We need to embrace this truth in our lives.

 

Secondly, in the second reading St. John in his first letter points out to us that to abide in God, we must also love one another- the commandant of God. John reminds us that: “…our love is not to be just word or mere talk, but something real and active. Only through this can we be certain that we are the children of truth.  In other words, we need to become conscious of our Christian responsibility towards our neighbors. Our belief in Christ is simply reflected in our concrete works of charity and mercy towards our neighbor. John continues to remind us that: “Whoever keeps his commandments lives in God and God lives in him.”  what proves that we are really in Christ is our ability to keep His commandments in our lives. Our obedience to this commandment of “love” is our concrete expression of love for the Creator and others. Pope Francis puts it beautifully, “Abiding in the Lord means finding the courage to step outside of ourselves to take care of other’s needs and give a Christian witness in the world.” Let us become aware that like branches that do not bear fruits without vine, without Him we can do nothing (Jh 15:4). Let us deepen our communion with Creator, who invites us daily to abide in Him and find courage to witness our love for the Creator in and through our love towards our neighbor.

 

By Vijay Deivanayagam, OMI – Vocation Contact Central
(431) 373-6342

vijayreia@gmail.com

 


JESUS HAD BEEN MADE KNOWN TO THEM IN THE BREAKING OF THE BREAD (Lk 24:35)

Again, we are faced with Jesus’ loved ones not recognizing him immediately. This seems so  strange considering the time they had spent together and the intimacy of their work. However, it was not a coincidence that this was when then two finally recognized Jesus. It is through the breaking of the bread that we are able to see Christ; to recognize him among us. Why is this? The Eucharistic table is where we will come together; I believe this is the first place we will “see” the face of Christ in each other.

 

Jesus is made known to all of us through the Eucharist. Every Sunday when we come together to hear the word of God and share in His body and blood. In the prayers spoken, in our movements, in our being with one another. This is why we celebrate, so that we can encounter Christ. It is when we gather we find out where and how we are needed to serve; this is where we see the needs of our community. How could we understand the needs of the community if we don’t gather? In THE EUCHARIST: SOURCE AND SUMMIT OF THE LIFE AND MISSION OF THE CHURCH, a document written in preparation of the synod on the Eucharist; we hear “The Eucharist is the basis for the missio ad gentes and the means to bring it to perfection.” This comes under the title “The Social Meaning of the Eucharist”.

 

 

We have an opportunity like no other through the Eucharist, to hear what God is calling us to. As we are in community, it will become apparent not only the needs of those among us, but also, the gifts and opportunities in others. It is here at the Eucharistic Table; with our sisters and brothers, we will understand the mission of the church and the role that of each of us are called to within that mission.

 

By Serena Shaw

Vocation Team - Oblate Associate

780-231-3066

seshaw@shaw.ca

 

 






SIR, WE WISH TO SEE JESUS

 

 

The Greeks, the new converts to Judaism came to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. They had seen or heard about Jesus and the extraordinary things that Jesus had done. These Gentiles were curious to see or have a conversation with Jesus. They approached Philip, one of the disciples of Jesus with their request to see Jesus. According to John, the Greeks never got an audience with Jesus. Philip took their request to Andrew, and, together, Andrew and Philip told Jesus, but Jesus did not say yes or no. Instead, he said, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”   Probably, Jesus used the image of the grain to speak of his forthcoming passion, death, and resurrection to his disciples.

What do you make of this reference to a grain of wheat falling to the ground and dying today as we reflect on this passage? What does it mean for us today as we enter this Sunday? Somehow death and seeing Jesus are interrelated and interconnected. As followers of Christ, if we want to see Jesus, we must learn to die like the grain which dies and bear fruits. Seeing Jesus means dying to all parts of our life that blinds or hiders us to see a new life. Seeing Jesus means learning to die to resentment, hatred, self-centeredness, obsessions and compulsions, discrimination, and indifference to bear the fruits of love, peace, justice, forgiveness, unity, and solidarity. Henri Nouwen in his prayer ‘A cry for Mercy’ elucidates, “Yes, Lord, I have to die…. There is so much in me that needs to die: false attachments, greed and anger, impatience and stinginess”. Therefore, in dying to self-life, we discover an abundant and new life as St. Francis of Assisi beautifully says, “it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”

As followers of Jesus, we are challenged by the message and example of Jesus today. The Lenten journey requires us to live more intensely the rhythm of dying and rising so that we may continue to witness Christ and Christian virtues in our lives. As St. Pope John Paul II says, “We must also let him be “seen” somehow through the eloquent witness of our own life (Novo millennio ineunte).

The season of Lent is to give us time once again to die to our old sinful ways of life and rise out of the tomb with Jesus to a new way of life – renewal attitude.  The second preface of Lent states, “For you have given your children a sacred time for the renewing and purifying of their hearts, that, freed from disordered affections, they may so deal with the things of this passing world as to hold rather to the things that eternally endure”. May this Lent be a time of special grace for each of us. As we are approaching the paschal feast of death and resurrection of lord Jesus Christ let us prepare ourselves for that celebration by dying to sinful ways and rising to new life with Jesus.

By Vijay Deivanayagam, OMI

Vocation Team - Central
(431) 373-6342

vijayreia@gmail.com

MEANING OF THE TABOR EXPERIENCE

Today we journey to the mountaintop twice.  In the first reading, we climbed the mountain with a heavy heart along with Abraham because his child Isaac was to be sacrificed. In the Gospel reading, we climbed up again to pray with Jesus in the company of Peter, James and John.

In biblical tradition, mountains are the usual settings for supernatural revelations and theophanies. On Mount Tabor, the apostles got a glimpse of the glory that belonged to Jesus as the Son of God. So wonderful was this experience that Peter exclaimed, “Lord, it is good for us to be here.” Surely, it is good for us to be here this Sunday morning/ noon because here we can get a glimpse of our glory, for we too are children of God.

This Tabor experience came at a crucial moment in the life of Jesus that is at the start of his journey to Jerusalem. Up to this time, Jesus had been working mostly in Galilee. Even there he had a lot of opposition from the religious leaders. Jesus knew that his journey to Jerusalem would end in a violent death. It seemed that he climbed the Mount Tabor to pray about it.

The most important thing in Jesus’ life was his relationship with his heavenly Father. That relationship was well grounded from the beginning. However, when the powers of darkness appear to attack Jesus, it was to the Father that he turned for guidance and strength. We don’t know exactly what happened at Mount Tabor, but we do know that Jesus heard again the words of affirmation he had heard at his baptism: “You are my Son, the beloved; my favour rests on you” (Mark 1:11). At Mount Tabor, Jesus felt himself comforted and affirmed by His heavenly Father’s presence and support. By this, he knew that the Father was pleased with him and would give him strength to face the challenges ahead. He knew that with God on his side, he could face anything.

Like Jesus and the three apostles on Mount Tabor, we too can experience moments of light and joy. Like Jesus, when moments of darkness or dark shadows come, we must do what Jesus did. We must seek God in our prayer. When we do so, we will surely hear a voice whispering to us in our hearts, “You are my beloved son, or my beloved daughter.” When we hear that inner voice, we will know that we are at home with God and will have nothing to fear. Once we come to the deeper knowledge and experience that we are born out of love and we will die into love, for sure all forms of evil will lose their power over us. It is comforting to know that the road we are travelling every day is marked by the feet of countless holy people who have gone before us. Let us walk boldly with the grace of God.

By Fr. Susai Jesu, OMI
OMI Lacombe Canada Vocation Team - West


"CLEAN, UNCLEAN"

As students of theology, we were sent to different ministries for experience during our summer vacation. We used to call it a summer exposure program. As oblate scholastics, we had the opportunity to explore a different kind of ministries like prison ministry, HIV and AIDS ministry, parochial ministry, youth ministries.

When I was doing my 1st year of theology, I was sent to work in the Leprosy Rehabilitation Centre for a month in Bengaluru, India. My main work was there to help the nurses to clean the wounds, ulcers and apply medication. It was painful and hard for me even to see the deep sores, ulcers, skin lesions, physical deformities and nursing them. What pained me during my stay with them was how they were treated by society - us. They were ostracized, expelled from homes and towns, they did not have a place to go, elderly parents were neglected, their children were not accepted in schools because of fear of transmission, scared to employ them, and were segregated from society. Imagine the pain these people would have to go through every day in their lives. it is no different from the time of Jesus. Leprosy was regarded as impure and understood as the punishment of God.

The first reading gives us the background of the sad state of lepers in Palestinian society. When leprosy was identified in a man or woman, he or she had to live alone (Leviticus 13:46).  Lepers were expelled from the city. Everywhere they went they had to shout out loud, “Unclean, unclean!” (Leviticus 13:45). The Talmud (the Jewish oral law) required that a leper had to stay six feet away from other people and 150 feet when there was the wind. According to the Mishnah, anyone who touched a leper, was near a leper, touched anything that a leper had touched, or entered his/her home was ceremonially unclean. As a result, the Jewish rabbis avoided lepers.

In this context, we are invited to read this passage of Jesus healing the leper. We can see how Jesus moved with compassion when he heard the cry of the leper, ‘’Lord, if You are willing, you can make me clean’’. He ignores the Mosaic Law prohibiting him from touching a leper, stretches out his hands, and touches him saying “I am willing; be cleansed.” Jesus’ compassion moved Him to act and do something for this man. He touches him and heals him. That leper was given a brand-new life at that very moment.

Grant R. Osborne a theologian and New Testament scholar calls this act the 'love hermeneutic’ that is the willingness to break Jewish taboos to help the suffering. We perceive Jesus’ willingness to touch and show compassion to all those who have been rejected, abandoned, and forgotten. As followers of Christ, we need to have this attitude of willingness: willingness to show compassion towards the outcast, abandoned, rejected, and forgotten. Like Jesus let us reach out and touch the poor and the needy in our midst. Besides, the Lord invites each of us to feel our own needs and to ask for his healing touch. Like the leper, may we turn to Jesus in faith and let our lives proclaim his gifts of mercy, forgiveness, and spiritual rebirth.

By Arokia Vijay Deivanayagam, OMI
Vocation Team – Central Phone: (431) 373-6342
Email: vijayreia@gmail.com


GOD CONTINUES TO CALL

“The Lord heals the broken-hearted, and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147: 3

The Psalm used in this weekend’s liturgy praises God for the compassion, tenderness and care God shows Israel. It also expresses, in the poetic language of the Psalms, what we see of Jesus’ ministry in the Gospel. His proclamation of the Good News is accompanied by healing and forgiveness – Jesus heals the broken-hearted, binds their wounds, lifts up the downtrodden and shares with everyone he encounters the beauty and joy of God’s love.

Our world today stands in need of the compassion, tenderness and love of God. For the poor, the homeless, those with mental and emotional illness and those on the margins the pandemic has made their situation even more precarious. We also recognize that large numbers of people are subjected to racism, homophobia, ageism, and discrimination of many kinds.

Just as Jesus reached out to those least touched by the society and institutional religion of their day he continues to call disciples to follow his example and be instruments of God’s compassion, tenderness and care. Two hundred and five years ago St. Eugene de Mazenod and Fr. Henri Tempier responded to that call and the seeds that grew into the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate were planted. God still calls men and women to live the Oblate charism of “proclaiming Good News to the poor” as vowed religious and Oblate Associates. Just as it did in post-Revolution France, the world today is in need of people to live that charism and help transform our world. Is God calling you to “heal the broken-hearted and bind up their wounds”?

By Richard Beaudette, OMI
Vicar1@omilacombe.ca


Vocation Reflection: “Call to Conversion and Vocation”

By Susai Jesu OMI - Vocation Team (Contact West)

"Jesus proclaims conversion. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent and believe in the Gospel.” Jesus calls his first apostles. “Follow me and I will make you fishers of people.” These two moments - of conversion and vocation - have a determining importance in the life of every Christian. The whole purpose of life and salvation develops inwardly in every Christian.”

Read the reflection here: https://omilacombe.ca/become-an-oblate/

Thank you for praying for and encouraging vocations to the Oblate religious life!

Jarek Pachocki OMI
OMI Lacombe Canada - Vocation Director


 

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