Fr. Christopher Gibson, CP
I find it important to include the spirit of the “Seventh day” in my life. This basically means slowing down to find time to nurture the spirit through contact with the Lord through prayer and spiritual reading, resting, caring for my health, cleaning up around me to make my environment more dignified to live in, get into some hobby, take a walk, etc.
Working with Food for the Poor helps me to be constantly aware of those who are struggling to survive, who lack the most basic needs in life. Food for the Poor meets the physical and spiritual needs of people by providing food, housing, emergency relief and more to the poorest of the poor in the Caribbean and Latin America. I will not only go out to preach on their behalf, like the coming weekend when I travel to a parish in Indianapolis, but also go over some of the printed matter on the plight of so many, or watch a video clip on YouTube after typing in “Food for the Poor” and taking all this to prayer.
I try to keep abreast of what is going on at a global level. Catching up with the international news is important for me. I am no doubt very concerned about the thousands of refugees pouring into Europe and realize the challenge that the Europeans face given the impressive numbers. To see the Prime Minister of Canada receiving personally a group of refugees with a warm welcome, accompanied by a group of kids singing in Arabic for them as they were met at the airport, is truly an expression of compassion!
Renewal through Compassion toward our environment
Use but not abuse. We are administrators of God’s creation and not owners. Giving name to creatures is being respectful. We can learn a lot from the first nations of our land in this sense. I try to live this out in my own life and will carry on doing so to use everything with moderation, be it water, electricity or paper, recycling but also avoiding producing a lot of garbage, avoid as much as possible throwing food away, etc. But along with this, it is important to develop a spirit of gratitude and prayer: ” thank you Lord for the gift of water which is readily available to me with the option of hot and cold…for the gift of shelter…for food…for heating or cooling…for eyes to see…ears to hear…etc. How many lack these things and so much more that we take for granted?
Renewal through Compassion within our communities
There are so many little gestures we can do to be sensitive to those around us from picking up after someone who accidentally left a plate unwashed, from moving to the center of a pew in church so that people don’t have difficulty getting in if we sit at the end of an empty pew, from being patient with the cars in the parking lot who are waiting to leave after Mass, from not only greeting and smiling at a person nearby, but also asking how they are, how they are feeling or showing empathy in other ways. The important thing is to have a true sense that the other matters and deserves my attention to reach out to them: the Spirit suggests concrete actions to take at every moment of the day. These are countless gestures that add up over time.
Renewal through Compassion through vocations
s a vocation director, I have to be attentive to where the Holy Spirit is leading a particular young person with whom I am journeying. To help that young person become aware of what concretely the Lord is asking of them is my task. I never encourage young men to join the Passionists, for instance, if the Spirit is leading them elsewhere, but when there is an identification with the Passionist charism and style of living, then I help develop that vocation to become explicit and enthusiastic, preparing the way for the young person to enter in one of our communities to reside with us if they have the requirements needed.
Renewal through Compassion in education
As a formator, I try my best to give all the time a candidate needs to be formed in the Passionist way of life, even if this means being pressed with time and having to make sacrifices to be present to those needs that a candidate deserves. Special care I would give to a young person who is just new in residence: making sure that he has all that is needed