Posts Tagged With: gospel

Sid’s 40 Day Fast – Day 25

Day 25 – Thursday – 10/18/12

Today is the feast of St. Luke the Evangelist. Yes, that Luke, the one who wrote one of the four Gospels. And when I was praying morning prayer from The Liturgy of The Hours, the reading was from 1 Corinthians 15. The beginning of the reading is what really stood out to me: “Brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and in which you stand firm. You are being saved by it at this very moment.” The fact that the Gospel has the power to be saving us at this very moment is awesome. Like I said, once I read that, I couldn’t shake it, couldn’t get it out of my head. Also, I finished reading Veritatis Splendor (The Splendor of Truth) this morning. At the very end, Blessed Pope John Paul II quotes St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:17: we have been sent “to preach the Gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, lest the Cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” This brings me particular comfort, as someone who has never been a very learned person, nor have I been eloquent with my words. But it reminded me of how Christ is the source of the power that flows when we preach the Gospel, not our own skills.

Later this morning, I’m gonna go do some home visits by myself. Luis left early this morning to bring a lady to the hospital in Saltillo, the nearest big city (500,000) about an hour away. As with all hospital visits, it might take quite awhile, so that’s why i’m flying solo this morning. Gonna try and visit the three home visits that weren’t home this week, and there’s one more we haven’t been to yet, can’t forget them either. Hopefully he gets back early enough that we can do our scheduled rancho chapel visits. This is our last week as a mission team to visit the ranchos, so we want to visit one last time, and say our “goodbyes” before the group gets here. That way, if we lead the groups to visit other ranchos instead of these, they won’t think we forgot to say bye.

Well, Luis ended up getting back alot earlier than I expected. He even got back before our normal scheduled time that we leave for home visits, so it worked out well. Our two rancho visits were also good. At our first rancho, Ojo de Agua, we had all the regulars and then some. And by the time we started, they had even brought food and some drinks! I was amazed. Some people might not think it’s a big deal, but these people are not exactly rich. And for them to even do something as simple as bring a 3-liter bottle of coke, or make some gorditos is a big, big deal. So what I decided to do before I started my talk was to put all of the food and drink on the altar. Then I explained to them about how it was not just something to eat and drink, but a gift and an offering to God. I also explained that it was an image of the early Church, when for the offerings of bread and wine, the people would bring the bread and wine themselves for the priest to consecrate into Jesus’ Body and Blood, The Eucharist. It was pretty amazing. Reminds me of one of our rancho visits yesterday too. Afterwards, an old lady, not much more than 4 and a half feet tall, no less than 80 years old, walks up to my mission partner afterwards and sticks a couple small coins in his hand. And I knew, I just knew instantly that I was witnessing the Bible story from Mark 12, where the widow put her two small coins in the collection, and it was a more generous gift than the many many coins that the rich people gave.

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Desert Day in the Graveyard

Friday – August 10, 2012 – 10:30am – Panteon Santa Ana – General Cepeda, Coahuila, Mexico

Desert Day in the Graveyard

So, my mission partner is about 5 hours away in another part of Mexico with one of our local missionaries riding along. They’re doing the bi-annual (twice a year?) renewing of the Mexican permit we need to have our American van here with us. No van = weekly Desert Day prayer time at a location that I can walk to. So I chose the tried and true local graveyard. Lest you think I’m some kinda morbid sort of person, let me explain myself. The idea of Desert Day is to follow Jesus’ example of escaping the busyness of ministry by retreating to a quiet locale, free of distractions/disturbances, for some much needed time with the Lord. Obviously, the graveyard is very VERY quiet. The people who “live” there don’t make any noise at all. (Ok, ok, corny/bad joke, I know). Also, there are a few really good shaded spots to escape the sun. Last but not least, if you’ve never been to a Mexican graveyard, then you’d never know how colorful and decorated they can be. The graveyard here in General Cepeda (Panteon Santa Ana) has nary a totally plain gray or white tomb. Many are painted various bright and varied colors. And for those tombs that are white or gray, they are usually adorned with a colorful Jesus or Our Lady of Guadalupe statue.

My reflections today centered around two bible passages I received during my Desert Day prayer time as well as a excerpt from the current chapter I’m reading in the book “Catholicism for Dummies: 2nd Edition”.

First passage – John 10:27-28 “The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life; they will never be lost and no one will ever steal them from my hand.”

When I came across this verse, it really struck me. I caught myself thinking that sometimes in life I succeed in listening to his voice, ergo, being his sheep. But how many times do I NOT listen to his voice? Everytime this happens, I am not his sheep. Not out of his decision. He ALWAYS wants me to be his sheep. But he also respects my freewill, and that is how we as human beings are the most unique species of “sheep”. Unlike our animal counterparts, we have more than just animal instinct that guides our decision to follow or not follow him. We have, as previously stated, freewill. So, back to my point, because I have not always heeded his voice, there have been many times that I have not been his sheep. Many times that I have not followed him and he has not known me. Again, always because of my decision and never EVER because of any decision on his part. He always gives me what I need, including every possible chance to turn from my ways and towards his. Sometimes out of my nature of being a “tete-dur”, I choose my way. (“Tete-dur” is a cajun-french phrase my dad taught me when I was a little boy. It means “hard head” 🙂 ) But, the consolation of my reflection on this passage lies in the last verse. If I do choose to be his sheep, I will have life…………….ETERNALLY. I will NEVER be lost or stolen from his hand.

Second passage – John 11:41-42 “So they took the stone away. Then Jesus lifted up his eyes and said: Father, I thank you for hearing my prayer. I myself knew that you hear me always, but I speak for the sake of all these who are standing around me, so that they may believe it was you who sent me.”

This passage was with Jesus, Martha, et all at her brother Lazarus’ tomb, days after he died, moments before Jesus raised him. To me it shows two things, which I just so happen to desperately need, day in and day out, as a missionary. (All Christians need this too). It says to me that I need to be confident that God hears my prayers. And, it tells me that I need to pray not for selfish reasons, but in service to others.

This last passage is from the book I mentioned. “Darkening of the intellect: This wound is the reason many times we can’t see clearly the right path to take even though it’s right under our nose, so to speak. Sometimes, our wounded human nature cloud’s our intellect’s ability to see with precision the proper course to take. Often, we need good advice, counsel, and perhaps even fraternal correction to compensate when our minds are unable to digest the situation or we find it difficult to figure out the proper solution to our problem”

It’s a passage that really struck a chord with me. Currently I’m living out my commitment to be in Mexico until the end of November. What will happen after November, I honestly have no earthly clue. (Maybe a heavenly one?) And it’s frustrating. But, when I read this I felt like it helped me to understand the nature of why it’s hard to udnerstand God’s will and path in our lives. And the compensation it mentions (good advice, counsel, and fraternal correction) is right on the money. I have and still continue to benefit from all three.

And that’s all I got for today. I felt really good about my Desert Day prayer time today. Like God really spoke to me. It’s a great feeling.

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Jesus Parable Comes Alive – part 1

Jesus parable comes alive in the modern version of the biblical story of Matthew 12:41-44. Never discount the power of a small gift, or of many small gifts put together. Be sure to check out “Jesus Parable Comes Alive  (the conclusion)”

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Sid’s August Missionary Fundraiser/Update Newsletter

“The angel of Yahweh encamps around those who fear him, and rescues them.”
–Psalm 34:7—

To all of my friends, family, and loved ones,

It’s good to “visit” with you again. It may not be in person, but I really
do enjoy these letters, which to me are chances to “visit” with y’all and
give updates on my life as a missionary. The bible verse above is one that
I received in prayer recently, during our weekly Desert Day prayer time.
It brought me great comfort, and I hope it brings you great comfort as
well.

Since we last visited, lots has happened! As my last letter arrived, we
had just concluded a successful one week mission trip with a group of
families, mostly from Southern Louisiana. To experience their energy and
enthusiasm was something that was truly inspiring to me. It brought new
life to our mission post here in Mexico. It renewed me as a missionary.
And most importantly it brought the light of Christ to the people here in
Mexico.

After the group left at the beginning of June, I had one week to help
clean up and regroup before heading off to language school. This was
something that I was very much looking forward to. After roughly 3 months
in Mexico, I had picked up about as much Spanish as I could on my own, and
I really REALLY needed some formal study of the language. I spent a month
in Cuernavaca at ENCUENTROS Spanish immersion school. It’s roughly about 2
hours southwest of Mexico City. My host family was gracious and
accommodating. They even integrated me into the life of their local church
parish, which led to opportunities to help the priest as well as speak
(yikes!) at the parish’s charismatic prayer group.

I also had several other small opportunities during my time in Cuernavaca
to minister to the poor and others in need. I learned a lot of Spanish,
and experienced great friendships and fellowship as well. And because of
the cheap cost of travelling by bus in Mexico, I got to go on several
excursions. My two favorites were Teotihuacan (2nd largest pyramid in the
world), and The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Many thanks to my
fellow missionaries Eric and Sarah Baquet for donating some of their
surplus funds to enable me to attend language school!
As I write this letter, I’ve been back at my mission post in General
Cepeda for 2 weeks. The name of the game now is me and my mission partner
getting back into the groove. We’ll be visiting as many as 8 ejidos
(desert communities) each week, bringing them the Word of God and
conducting communion services. Every week we have 6 different home visits
scheduled. And last but not least we have our door ministry, where we pray
with and help all those who come to our door. That’s not to mention all
the other occasional and random opportunities that God sends our way!

I would also like to remind you of 2 upcoming mission trips that God has
opened the doors for me to participate in. One is this coming winter (Dec.
or Jan.) in India. During our time there we’ll be doing a combination of
evangelization and corporal works of mercy. The last time FMC visited
India, we worked with The Missionaries of Charity (Mother Theresa’s nuns),
brought food and evangelized in the slums, and spoke to various student
and church groups. I also have the opportunity to attend a post-Christmas
week mission in the barrios of Buenos Aires. Some fellow pilgrims from
World Youth Day last summer have invited me to participate in this mission
sponsored by a local Catholic prayer group. As you can imagine, I will
need lots of help to make it to both of these trips. God has opened the
doors for me to go to India and Argentina? Will YOU help me to walk
through those doors?

Last but not least, I would like to thank all of you for your generosity
which enables me to live the blessed life of a foreign missionary. Without
you, I would not be able to do what I do. Please also remember that every
little bit helps. (see Mark 12:41-44) Please pray for me, the missionaries
I work with, and the people we serve. And please continue to be generous
in helping me to live life as a foreign missionary. The needs are great &
and I can only continue to meet those needs with your help.

In Jesus’ Love,
Sidney E. Savoie, II

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The missionary life is not glamorous but it is glorious!

Here’s my latest newsletter. Should be in the mail by the beginning of next week. Should be stateside about 2 weeks after that.

 

God is opening before the Church the horizons of a humanity more fully prepared for the sowing of the Gospel

Pope John Paul II in Mission of the Redeemer

 

Dearest Benefactors,

I’m sure some of you have noticed a slightly different format & layout to my newsletter, and there’s a good reason why. Me and one of my mission partners Mark did some research on how much it would cost for things like postage, envelopes, and paper. We figured out that it was just as cheap, if not cheaper, to send our letters from St. Lucia than to send them from the states. What a blessing! This gives us a chance to put our own sweat and labor into the printing and sending of our newsletters, and gives us a greater sense of ownership of our mission work. We also figured that benefactors would enjoy and be blessed by receiving mail directly from the mission field. Please remember though that payment for donations should still be remitted to FMC’s address in Louisiana, which is already printed on the return envelope included with this letter.

As mentioned in my last letter, our mission post is the country of St. Lucia. Me and my mission partners, The Eckstine Family, are in the capital city of Castries. The Corpus Christi Carmelites were gracious enough to let us inhabit the first floor of their convent which was already earmarked for missionaries and volunteers. We have plenty of space for all 13 of us, and I could not have imagined or asked for a better place to stay. Another blessing is that we pay no rent, and only pay our share of the utilities and pay for our own food as well. Included in our living quarters are a spacious kitchen, a washroom, dining room, living room, school room, and bathrooms in each individual room. Within the same compound, there’s a nursing home and a nursery school. They also have a chapel which affords us the TREMENDOUS blessing of daily access to Mass and The Holy Eucharist and Confession! Because we are within walking distance of the downtown area, anytime we need to make a trip to the city market, post office or some other destination, we have easy access. With the space and privacy that we have we’re also blessed to have a good daily rhythm and are able to accomplish all the things we need to do, including schoolwork, individual study time for the adults, and personal prayer time as well. Perhaps the best thing about our living quarters is that the compound is completely walled in and gated off, and is locked at night. As you can see we are very safe and secure & extremely blessed with what the Lord has provided for our living quarters.

The country of St. Lucia is quite an interesting place to live as well. The island itself is only 14 miles (east to west) by 27 miles (north to south). The population is approximately 170,000 which is less than the population of the Greater Lafayette area.  A country that is smaller than my hometown. What a culture shock! J The weather year-round ranges from 70 to 90 degrees with a rainy season in the latter part of the year. Weather is also moderated by breeze from the Atlantic Ocean and Carribean Sea. Location-wise, St. Lucia is south of Martinique, west of Barbados, and northeast of St. Vincent and The Grenadines. English is the official language, but most people here speak Creole and for many of them it is their first language. 70% of the population is Catholic and the rest are for the most part affiliated with other Christian denominations. So as you can see the field of harvest to which the Lord has sent us has some quite favorable conditions! However, not all is perfect in paradise. One of the primary challenges in St. Lucia is the deplorable condition of family life, a fact that is even acknowledged by the media and government. Some 70% of children are born out of wedlock or have divorced parents. There is also a large portion of the youth that seem to struggle with chastity and purity. Lack of direction and focus among the youth are quite a problem too. Gang violence and violence in general are also problems here. We are advised to not go out after dark, and if necessary, only if we have someone give us a ride. Due to the size and nature of the island, there is very little industry here besides tourism. Therefore unemployment is very high. Any native industries that do exist (such as banana production) are only seasonal work and are still suffering setbacks from Hurricane Tomas in October 2010. The cost of living is also very high. Even with an exchange rate of 2.7 Eastern Carribean Dollars per every 1 U.S. Dollar, most everyday items in the grocery store are double the normal cost since almost everything has to be imported. Combined with the lack of employment this makes poverty an enormous problem in St. Lucia. I could give y’all quite a sizeable list of the problems that face the people here, but I think you get the idea. To put it succinctly, there are many challenges here that make life difficult.

There are lots of ministry opportunities as well. As previously mentioned, there is a nursing home here on the compound where we minister daily. We visit with the residents and pray with them. The Eckstine children like to assist the teachers at the nursery school as well. Trips into town usually prove themselves to be fruitful opportunities for evangelism as well. Just about every time we go in town for something, we inevitably run into someone who needs help. Each time, we give them some food and water (in ready-made baggies which we bring with us) and we visit and pray with them. We’ve also been blessed to share meals and fellowship with some people from the neighborhood here at our mission house. The opportunity to witness to them with our missionary lives as well as sharing our food is a great blessing and brings us great joy. These things have proved so fruitful that friendships are beginning to form and hopefully hearts are being changed too. Twice a month on Sundays, I go down to the cruise ship terminals with a large sign that informs vacationers about Mass times at the Cathedral downtown. Fellowship with other missionaries has also been abundant. For the past few weeks, there have been rotating groups of short-term missionaries that are with The Good News Project, based out of Wisconsin. They were working with the elderly here at the nursing home as well as providing medical care. We’ve also had the opportunity to meet with some other lay missionaries from The Diocese of Venice, FL. They were in Castries doing some preliminary groundwork for a Christian-themed sports camp that will be held in August. It looks like we might even be able to assist them! In our first week here, we met with Archbishop Robert Rivas and he informed us of the other ministries we would be involved with. Mark and Lora Eckstine (the husband/wife combo of the missionary family I’m paired with) are serving in Family and Life ministry both at the diocesan level and at our new home church parish, Sacred Heart in the Marchand neighborhood. The bishop has asked me to work with both the Youth Ministry & Vocations offices at the Archdiocesan level, assisting with planning & execution of various events. Mark and I also appreciate the fact that we have manual labor that we can assist with on a weekly basis. So far we have been doing a lot of clean up here on the compound of trees and branches that were felled during Hurricane Tomas in October 2010. It is evident that there are many other “projects” and ministries we can assist with. We just have to wait for God to let these opportunities unfold on his timeframe, not ours!

With opportunity comes challenge. One of our biggest challenges is a lack of enthusiasm. People already working in ministry here are wearied by the challenging social conditions of the people they serve. In general, there is a laissez-faire attitude, a sort of subtle indifference by some laypeople and clergy to the problems facing the Church and society as well as what it will take to address these problems. When thinking about all the challenges, from poverty to violence to unemployment and many others, it is easy to see this mission as an uphill battle. As mentioned earlier living expenses are a challenge as well. St. Lucia is a third-world country with a first-world cost of living. Another significant challenge is the slow and sometimes laborious process of getting to know the people and forming relationships. This is crucial for forming a bond of trust with both those we minister to and those we minister with.

However, in spite of the challenges I am still very optimistic.  For as it says in St. Paul’s letter to the Romans chapter 5 verse 20, “….but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more”. That’s PROOF in Scripture that not all is lost, that there IS hope. I guarantee you that no matter how much hopelessness and indifference weigh down the lives of the people in St. Lucia, God’s grace can overcome it all. I’ve already begun to see people warm up to us and form relationships. I’ve seen the warm hospitality of the people here, which I believe is truly a gift from God. I’ve seen the Cathedral during a Thursday night praise and worship session, FULL of people praising the Lord and praying for conversions and miracles. Every smile we give is returned, every hello is echoed. Our co-workers in the vineyard here are also proof of God’s goodness. Their love and generosity has been a key ingredient to the success of our budding life of mission work here. Through benefactors both here and back home, God has provided for each and every one of our needs. We try our best to trust in God and have never been found wanting of the things that are necessary for our daily living. There is no hill that we cannot climb, no obstacle that cannot be overcome, and no soul that is outside of the reach of God’s graces. We are doing the Lord’s work, and “if God is for us then who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).

I’d like to end by asking for your prayers and support. Without prayer, we cannot succeed as missionaries. Pray that we are faithful in prayer and that our ministries are fruitful. Please also let me know if you have any prayer intentions that you’d like me to add to my prayer list. And as always, please consider donating financially to my mission work. Your assistance here is also crucial to it’s success. As you can see, I have provided a “Specific Costs” box noting various expenses. Please prayerfully consider sponsoring one of them. Please also remember to email me if you need anything: sidsavoie@catholic.org. Another great way to keep up-to-date on the mission work here is by visiting my missionary blog: https://cajunmissionary.wordpress.com. I can also write articles and talks that you can use in prayer groups, church parish bulletins, etc. Once again, thank you thank you THANK YOU for your generosity. Without you I would not be able to fulfill my call to the foreign missions.

In Christ’s Love,

Sid Savoie

SPECIFIC COSTS YOU CAN SPONSOR:

*Pilgrimage to World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid – $2000

*My bi-monthly missionary newsletters – $100 per 100 sent

*Plane ticket home during summer to visit family – $500

*Monthly bills (food, water, electricity, propane, toiletries, personal items, etc….) – $350

*Contributions to FMC general fund for salaries, maintenance, retreat ministry, youth ministry, almsgiving, etc.

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MISSIONARY JOURNAL- CAN’T GIVE WHAT I DON’T HAVE

12-2-09 (continued)

As the saying goes, “I can’t give what I don’t have”. The same goes for spreading the gospel. How can I do something that I don’t know how to really do? I’ve got to allow myself to be formed by God in the environment that he chooses. I think for both marriage and being a Catholic “evangelist”, foreign missions is where I can learn what I need to. Call it a coincidence, call it random-ness, call it whatever you want, but it was on the Mexico mission that a passion for missions was reawakened. I also realized a couple things. First thing is (as already stated), that I need to be in love with the Lord. Head-knowledge and going through the motions don’t mean much at all, especially if I don’t have an intimate, loving relationship with my Lord and Savior. Second thing is that I think foreign missions is where I’ll learn how to evangelize and be a missionary.

Whether it’s developing missionary zeal, learning how to speak with people about Jesus, or learning what the Catholic Church teaches about missions, I think the foreign mission field is where God wants me to learn all of this. Will God ever call me out of foreign missions? I don’t know. Why did he even call me into foreign missions in the first place? I don’t know that either. All I know is that following God’s call, even if I don’t know the “why”, is the only thing that will bring me true happiness. Another thing God has been showing me is that I need to work on my patience. During our voyage to and from Mexico as well as while we were there, I encountered situations that tested my patience, and by the grace of God, I fared quite well.

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