“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of our faith…”
The Great Cloud of Witnesses
The Peace and Justice/Gospel of Life Apostolate is a seminarian-led apostolate that works to create opportunities for seminarians to have encounters with the poor, and creates opportunities to be formed/educated about different issues of social justice, the difficulties and challenges of the impoverished and different ministries engaged in such work. But to keep our work grounded in Jesus Christ, once a month the Apostolate “hosts” a holy hour to keep the focus of prayer in our work. Last year, the holy hours were themed along the “Works of Mercy.”
This year, the holy hours are themed around “The Great Cloud of Witnesses,” where each month one of our deacons shares a reflective meditation on some Saint or holy person of our Catholic Tradition who committed their life to service to the poor.
It is a major temptation in ministry and especially in work with the poor, to get pulled into activism, or be driven by political agendas or ideologies. But rather, we need to be grounded in and driven by Jesus Christ and His Church. And while forming ourselves in the theory of Catholic Social Teaching, and learning about the Works of Mercy is good, sometimes it can seem too theoretical.
We can learn to integrate our prayer and work and to ground our service in Christ by meditating on the lived examples of the Saints, of real people who strove and struggled with this. Rather than being theoretical they are concrete, real flesh-and-blood people who “put flesh on,” if you will the Works of Mercy and the principles of Catholic Social Teaching. In meditating on their life, work, prayer, and their spirituality, we learn what drives them; we begin to understand something of how their relationship with Jesus Christ shaped their mission to the poor. In doing so we continue to deepen our spiritual roots, so that our mission, our outreach to the poor, our working for justice, our striving to make Christ known to the world will be grounded in an authentic relationship with Jesus Christ, rather than some political agenda!
Our first holy hour was a meditation on the life and work of St. Vincent de Paul. Be looking out for the next post which will share points from this reflection, especially what we as seminarians, on our way to becoming priests, can learn from him!