I was walking down the street the other evening and there was a homeless man covered in tarps asleep on the sidewalk. He had a black puppy with brown spots curled up on his lap sleeping soundly. There was a stillness in encountering this man resting. Just a man and his dog. Oftentimes in the hustle and bustle of life–especially here–it’s easy to just keep walking past countless human beings. Many are speaking different languages, some are begging, others seem to be just as much in a rush but in this man there was stillness. I was reminded in that simplicity to reflect on the beauty of humanity. The beauty of life given, in all its forms.
A few days ago we had the opportunity to tour the Colosseum, the roman forum and St. Clement church near the Colosseum. Dr. Elizabeth Lev shared with us incredible insights into these places, but it was her deep understanding of humanity that was impressive. She had integrated the history of these sights and that had helped her to develop a keen analysis of what makes humans tick. She shared that the Colosseum was built ‘for the people’ that they would be grateful and indebted to its builder. All roman citizens were given free admission to the games, as a reminder that they were being cared for–and that got me thinking. Sure, we can reflect on various leaders and notice their manipulative skills…but at the heart of it, this practice highlights for us the deep desire for the human heart to be known, seen, loved. The commoners fell for the ‘manipulation’ because they had that sweet desire for more–not so different from my friend and his pup–not so different from my own desire.
But how are we to receive the fullness of the good that we desire?
The following day we had the opportunity to visit the Sisters of St. Peter Claver (joined by Fr. Zilverberg for Mass). The Sisters have a wonderful charism of mission, being a bridge between those who want to support the missions and those in need. Various Sisters spoke to us about the impact of the the order’s presence in their countries; India, Kenya, Nigeria etc. Their generosity manifest itself differently depending on the need of the community. These dear Sisters give because they love. Walking out of their house after a day of learning and reflection, each brother made note of the joy that each Sister had in speaking about the Lord and their missions. They were rooted in love for the other, and that left them full.
Today we had a morning of recollection led by our father, Fr. Scott Carl at St. Mary Major. We began the day with Christmas Mass at the crib of the child Jesus. Following the Mass Fr. Carl gave us a reflection that pointed out the limbo that might seem to exist as Theo IV Deacons. We are months from being ordained priests and in that have expectant joy–ready to bear the light of Christ to the nations, and yet we remain in the community at the seminary and are called, and have the blessed opportunity, to continue to be given there as well. He invited us to reflect on our prostration, where in a few months we lay our lives down at the altar, promising respect and obedience to our bishops.
You know the cliche phrase, it is better to give than to receive…if i may try and develop this colloquial phrase…
It is in giving of ourselves that we truly receive.
Ultimately, each day so far has continued to allow the fire for souls to spread in my heart. I don’t want to miss the beauty of the humanity on the street. I want to honor the deepest desires of every person I encounter. I desire to be poured out totally in love. This my brothers and sisters is the key to receiving the fullness of life; to remember everything that has been given to you is for the sake of another. Please pray for my brothers and I as we continue to delve into the sweetness of our impending prostration, our impending gift of self at the altar of the Lord. Please know of our prayers for you.
Deacon Bobby Blood