Wednesday, August 17, 2011

By the Sweat of Our Brow and the Strength of Our Arms in New Orleans

The title of this post comes from our founders prayer that we pray daily:

"Oh God Eternal and All-Powerful, Who filled St. Vincent, St. Louise, and St. Elizabeth Ann with Charity, Listen to our prayer and give us your Love. Following their example, make us discover and serve Jesus Christ, your Son, in the poor and unfortunate. At their school, teach us to love, in the sweat of our brow and the strength of our arms, with humility, simplicity, and charity. By their prayer, deliver our hearts from self-sufficiency and selfishness. Make us remember that we all, one day, will be judged on our Love."

So, that is what we tried to do this past week in New Orleans.  The sweat of our brow was not difficult to do since it was around 100 degrees each day outside and hotter, I believe, inside where we were working.  I went with a couple of Daughters of Charity and some young women discerning a religious vocation.  During the day St. Bernard Project set us up to help rehab houses damaged by Katrina.  So that is where the strength or our arms comes in!  We spent 3 days at 2 different locations doing "mold remediation".  Two This requires scrubbing all studs and rafters with a wire brush, washing them all down with "shockwave" chemical, and finally painting it with white sealant.  I think almost all of it is out of my hair now. Two other days were spent "mudding" and sanding sheetrock.

This photo is of our group in its "shockwave" pose.  We are outside St. Rita Church where we celebrated the Eucharist each day.  We had Liturgy of the Hours each morning before Mass.  Then we would come back and get in our grundgy clothes, eat breakfast and head to the site.

Each evening we had evening prayer and a reflection after our refreshing shower and dinner.  The evenings touched on how the Daughters of Charity are "Given to God, in community, for the service of Christ in persons who are poor."  One night we went to a local house of Daughters of Charity and another night DCs from 2 our local communities came to us.  We stayed at the House of Charity--which I wrote about in a previous post---amazing hospitality!

We began the week with a day of retreat on Sunday and ended Friday afternoon by reflecting on where we met Christ during our week.  Then we went down to the French Quarter to get pralines and beignets!  Oh, we had dinner too!!

The work we did was not exciting--mold remediation, mudding and sanding, but it is life changing for those who will be able to move home finally.  We were able to attend a "homecoming" for a family whose house had been completed.  We were also able to meet the home owners of the first house we worked on during the week.  They brought us red beans and rice and fried chicken for our 2nd lunch!

As I said before it was mighty hot and God blessed a couple of our afternoons with rain.  This shower had no lightning! Here is a shot of a couple of us cooling off.  We were already soaked with sweat so soaked with rain was much better!

We called the week "Search and Serve." It was a combination of service and discernment for where God is calling each of these young women. It turned out to be a powerful week of community living and joy. Each of us was touched by God during the week through the prayers and our service. God's call is clearer after last week, but it is not the end. Each step in discernment is a step not the end. So now, they all return home and get ready for the next step. Each step taken with prayer, faith and courage.

What is God calling you to do in prayer, faith and courage? Are you willing to take a step--just a step??

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE the Founders Prayer! And you're seems perfect for the Search and Serve! Glad you all had a great week!