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Get things right with God

Originally Appeared in : 9805-3/1/18

When I was a brand new seminarian, I had to choose a weekly apostolate, where for two or three hours each week I would serve others in some capacity. I picked the Urban Mission in downtown Steubenville, Ohio, and once a week I drove to a Methodist Church with another student to help at a soup kitchen. Sometimes I helped in the kitchen cooking, other times arranging cans in the pantry, but every week without fail I assisted in serving the food, and once that ended, I sat with the many men and women who weekly came for a hot plate. I still remember an elderly woman who came every week, Ms. Edna. Everybody knew her and showed her great respect. She always parked her buggy full of stuff at the door of the church, and came downstairs into the hall. She often complained that her landlord never fixed the heat in her room, or she would tell me about her cat.

 

Every week before serving lunch, the pastor quieted everyone down and prayed. She always started the prayer with the same words: “Thank you Lord for giving us today another chance to get things right with you.” Praying with a group of men and women who struggled each day to find food, and to secure a warm place to sleep in the freezing Ohio winter, the prayer always struck me as making real the present moment. Her prayer focused on the opportunity graciously granted by God to get things right today – not considering what happened yesterday, nor what may happen tomorrow. Her brief words were always spoken with joy, transmitting great hope at the new chance granted by God to get things right.

 

Lent is a season given to us by the Church to get things right with God. Lent usually starts with the greatest of intentions which quickly wither away, sometimes within a day or two, leading to discouragement. The pastor’s prayer however brings us straight back to the start because every day is a chance to get things right with God, regardless of what happened yesterday.

 

I valued the two years that I volunteered at the Urban Mission. So many other students traveled thousands of miles as missionaries to faraway countries, but within walking distance of the college there was a fertile mission territory. We do not have to look far to find, within us or within our community, what needs to be mended and healed. Perhaps this Lent is the perfect moment to act and make a change, to heal a broken relationship within your household or to seek forgiveness. Perhaps this Lent is the time to change an attitude or tackle a vice. You do not have to look far to find possible concrete goals to undertake this Lent.

 

I do not remember the name of the pastor at the Urban Mission, but I recall her face vividly. Her graying curly hair, her broad smile, and inviting demeanor welcomed everyone who walked past the door of the mission. Her prayer has been on my mind this Lent, and I hope it will be on yours too. 

 

Father Pablo Migone is chancellor of the Diocese of Savannah and resides in the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist, Savannah.

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