Sharing the Real Presence
This newsletter features an article from one of the Missionaries on how the poor are largely missing from the church in the urban areas of cities, where they mostly live despite their desire to be there and how we can welcome them in. We encourage you to share this with any pastors and parishioners who serve in poorer inner-city parishes. We invite you to get involved in some of our upcoming events. We will also be including items and ways that you can financially help with the mission at the end of the newsletter. Please continue keeping us and those we are ministering to in your prayers. We hope these newsletters can encourage you and our readers to grow in faith and in zeal for the work of the salvation of souls that is so needed in our church.
In this newsletter
Where are the Poor?
Update on the Mission
Where are the poor? by Griffin Rain
God “wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim 2:4) To fulfill his Plan of Salvation he sent Christ who instituted the church by his preaching of the good news.(cf. CCC 763). He desires that all be saved and has made his church necessary for salvation (cf. CCC 846). In our cities it seems that we are neglecting the spiritual needs of the poor. Even in the poorest areas, the church seems to have few people inside that are poor. Where are the parishes that are welcoming the poor into the church that Christ said will always be with you?
When he was in Bethany reclining at table in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of perfumed oil, costly genuine spikenard. She broke the alabaster jar and poured it on his head. There were some who were indignant. “Why has there been this waste of perfumed oil? It could have been sold for more than three hundred days’ wages and the money given to the poor.” They were infuriated with her. Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you make trouble for her? She has done a good thing for me. The poor you will always have with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them, but you will not always have me. She has done what she could. She has anticipated anointing my body for burial. Amen, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed to the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her. Mark 14:3-9
In Mark's gospel we hear how some grew indignant at the wastefulness of the woman with the perfumed oil as it could have been sold for much money to help the poor. Jesus responds in a way that puts to death this utilitarian mindset and tells those who are angry of her charity that it will be proclaimed wherever the gospel is proclaimed to the whole world! What is important is that she had charity and was willing to sacrifice for him. Drawing closer to the Lord, we often feel called to certain acts of charity towards others and we can see it as doing it for Christ. Who am I to judge if a person could have done better with their act of charity? We should be happy that someone would have charity. Our judgment often turns people away from such acts in the future if it is not received. I see this story as something that happens often in our churches. Charity is rejected but unlike in the gospel Christ appears to be silent. We have many comfortable middle class populated churches that are located in the poorest areas of our cities where few that attend actually live in the neighborhood and struggle with the poverty of their neighbors. There is often a mistrust of the neighborhood and the people from it among the parishioners. Despite the churches being close to empty and needing much help, the charity of the poor is too often rejected. Many of the poor want to join the church and help to share their gifts and talents to build up the church but have been rejected.
An example of this can be found at one of the past parishes that we served at. The parish had a yearly back to school picnic with grilling. In the previous year leading up to this event the man who usually grilled for it passed away and they were looking for help to take his spot. One of the men who was regularly coming to some events that we would put on and prayer services was formerly a chef for decades in the Wisconsin prison system and loves grilling out or anything to do with cooking. I invited him to come and help grill out for this event so that he could share his gifts with the church. When the day came to help with grilling, it seemed to him that the parishioners had everything handled and they treated him like he was not needed there even though they very clearly needed help. Afterwards he shared with me how this pained him and how there was something not right there. He noticed in his time with us that there was a great need, he felt called to help and his help was rejected for no good reason, but our own pride and fears. We must realize that we cannot do this on our own and every person has something they can offer to build up the body of Christ. As we reject one’s charity we cut off a person from the body. I can see that he was growing closer to Christ and his church and desiring to share his gifts more and more but because of the rest of the body of Christ breaking off with him, he was unable to become part of the church. He is a man that was with us for almost a year and while not Catholic, I can see him seeking to grow in communion with the Church and this was drawing him into the mission of the Catholic Church and sharing his gifts with the church. This story I see happen over and over again and it breaks my heart each time. We had almost 30 people begin Catechism classes with us at this parish with hopes to eventually join the church in the one year that we were doing mission work there and not one of them became Catholic. Many of them could share stories like this. We need to get back to being a church of the poor.
Your wealth has rotted away, your clothes have become moth-eaten, your gold and silver have corroded, and that corrosion will be a testimony against you; it will devour your flesh like a fire. You have stored up treasure for the last days. (James 5:2,3)
We have grown rich and it is corroding us and keeping us from a mission that Christ entrusted to us. Pope Francis in his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, points out how the church needs to operate. Instead of a false security, we must go out and evangelize and bring in those who are hurting.
Let us go forth, then, let us go forth to offer everyone the life of Jesus Christ. Here I repeat for the entire Church what I have often said to the priests and laity of Buenos Aires: I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security. I do not want a Church concerned with being at the center and which then ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures. If something should rightly disturb us and trouble our consciences, it is the fact that so many of our brothers and sisters are living without the strength, light and consolation born of friendship with Jesus Christ, without a community of faith to support them, without meaning and a goal in life. More than by fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us: “Give them something to eat” (Mk 6:37). Evangelii Gaudium 49
"The Church's love for the poor . . . is a part of her constant tradition." This love is inspired by the Gospel of the Beatitudes, of the poverty of Jesus, and of his concern for the poor. Love for the poor is even one of the motives for the duty of working so as to "be able to give to those in need." It extends not only to material poverty but also to the many forms of cultural and spiritual poverty. (CCC 2444) Not only do the poor need us, but really we need them far more than they need us. The poor are often difficult to be around, but it is more meritorious to love those who it is difficult to love than those for whom we find it easy. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.(Romans 5:8) They long for God and we have grown happy with what we have. For you say, ‘I am rich and affluent and have no need of anything,’ and yet do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. (Rev 3:17) We forget that we are all wretched and poor and that is God who makes us rich. He doesn't want us to hold our wealth but to give it away. When we hold it, our life rots as we heard earlier in James 5:2,3. Those who have, he asked them to give to the poor.
Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to [the] poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 19:21-23)
Why do we think we can continue to serve two masters?
“No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. (Matthew 6:24)
Update on the mission
Through our time as missionaries, we have felt called to evangelize where the Catholic Church is not as present. There are no Catholic Churches for miles in one of the most densely populated parts of the city. Few Catholics live here and most people have not had any experience with the Catholic faith. With no friends, neighbors or family who practice the Catholic faith, how will they join the church if missionaries don't go. We believe this is where we are called to proclaim the Gospel. We are currently looking for a storefront to lease in this general area of the northside to have a mission chapel with housing for Missionaries above. We have been in conversation with the Archdiocese about this and have their support. If any of you know of property in this area please let us know. We have begun Evangelizing in this general area and stepped back from evangelizing at other parishes. We see St John the Baptist as a patron of this Mission as it is quiet literally the desert in our city and we are called to go out and prepare the way for the Lord. This will be a change from engaging in missionary work around parishes that are already established, but more in line with the original call to work for the salvation of souls by evangelizing where the church is not very present. Please pray for us!
Come and See Weekend – We will be having come and see weekends on the last full weekend of every month unless otherwise noted in our future newsletters. We have come & sees planned for February 23-25, Holy Week Come & See Wed March 27- Sunday March 31. To reserve your spot on one of these come and sees or schedule an individual come and see at other dates, call/text (414) 235-7307 or e-mail email@example.com
Holy Week – Holy Thursday Bicycle Pilgrimage – On March 28th we will have our annual bicycle pilgrimage to seven altars of repose followed by a late-night meal prior to the beginning of Good Friday. This will begin following the scheduled Mass of the Lord’s Supper at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church.
Holy Week – Good Friday Way of the Cross – On March 29th We will pray one of the stations of the way of the cross in front of 14 of the closed Catholic Churches and institutions on Milwaukee’s Northside as we pray for the renewal of the Church in these areas where Catholicism was once more central to the life of those who lived in that area. Check future newsletters for more info, but expect most of the day.
Missionary Associates – Our Missionary Associates dinner will be Rescheduled to the 4th Thursday to prevent an overlap with the Pallium Lecture. Join us Thursday, February 22nd for this month's meeting of the Missionary Associates. This is for people who volunteer with the missionaries or are interested in volunteering/supporting our work. We hope that this continues building up the community around the missionaries, getting to know others and energizing more people to start working for the salvation of souls here in Milwaukee. This normally occurs on the 3rd Thursday of every month at St. Anthony Catholic Church at 1711 S. 9th St. Milwaukee, WI 53204. The schedule for the event is as follows:
● Evening Prayer in the Church 5:30 pm - 5:45 pm
● Short talk by one of the missionaries 5:50 pm - 6:10 pm
● Dinner and socializing 6:15 pm onward
Many people have been asking what kind of items that we are in need of to support us in a specific way. We will now have at the bottom of our monthly newsletter some items that we are in need of as well as some specific things we will need funding for.
Financial Donations needed much more at the moment for Missionary Formation
If you have wood 2x4's sitting around, we could use for our Friday Way of the Cross
About the Missionaries of the Real Presence
The Missionaries of the Real Presence are a group of lay men who live in common at St Anthony Parish in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as they discern a charism for a new religious community to be Contemplative Missionaries for Urban Evangelization. We are dedicated to prayer through daily Eucharistic Adoration and chanted Liturgy of the Hours in the church open to the public and evangelization to the inner-city areas where the Catholic Church is not very present.
Support the Mission, Join the Mission
If you appreciate the work we are doing, consider supporting our mission financially Here.
Volunteer with us with our street ministry and house visits Here
If reading about some of our stories inspires you, come and see what life as a missionary is like and visit us for a day or longer for prayer and ministry as you discern Here.
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