Monday, December 19, 2011

WELCOME YULE--Fourth Week of Advent

On Tuesday, the 13th of December, the community was joined by last year’s volunteers, Molly Sherry and Allison Maraldo, for a belated celebration of Molly’s [by about 6 months] and John’s birthdays!  We went to the Irish House, a pub, New Orleans style—that means the Blue Bell vanilla ice cream is served with Bailey’s as the sauce.  [See accompanying photograph!]

Charles, Bob, Molly [note the ice cream], Allison [cheesecake], John [berry medley--ignore the meringue]
On Wednesday, Charles left for a visit to his family in Seattle; that evening Bob and John welcomed about 15 folks for Taize prayer.  At the gathering afterwards, one of the group, a lawyer and candidate for the Sisters of St. Joseph, spoke of her advocacy work with the people engaged in Occupy New Orleans.  She related how they welcomed the homeless to their midst, of their commitment to consensus and conversation, and of the broken promises made to them when they agreed to vacate a park they occupied.  Promised housing in shelters evaporated when needed in the evening, too late to find alternate accommodation.  

This echoed Charles’ recent experiences with the homeless at Lantern Light Ministries—they are feeding more than 200 people each day now—some only recently made homeless.  With the closure of Operation Helping Hands, [OHH], in January, the third largest rebuilding effort in the city ends. But since OHH dealt with the poor [in an extremely cost effective manner] it is attracting no publicity or protest.  It is laudable that there is so much generosity to charities; our newspaper has front page articles about  donations to poor families, and ‘giving trees’ in church call forth wonderful responses.  At the same time, the reasons for the widespread poverty, both financial and spiritual, elicit less comment or concern.  Hopelessness stalks many here; this past weekend a 23 month old girl died in crossfire and a nine year old boy was shot twice during a drive by.

At the end of the week, Café Reconcile bid farewell to Sr. Mary Lou Specha, PBVM at a reception that John attended, and on the Fourth Sunday of Advent, Bob and John went to the “Celebration in the Oaks” at City Park, a wonderful event that evokes the Tivoli garden in Copenhagen—at least that is what they say!  It was a cool, clear evening, with floodlit fountains and lovely light displays throughout.

Our Christmas crib on the mantlepiece in the living room.
Following is a Christmas reflection from John Hammond, OSB, called: “Christmas Prayer” from WINTER’S COMING HOME, quoted in A CHRISTMAS SOURCE BOOK published by Liturgy Training Publications.  The Volunteer community sends it along with prayers and good wishes.

Child of Bethlehem—
house of bread;
Man of Jerusalem—
city of peace;
you have loved us
without limit or condition;
in our greatness and in our misery,
in our folly and in our virtue;
may your hand be always upon us
and may your heart be within us
so that we too
may become bread and peace
for one another.

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