Holy Saturday

It was a Saturday
A springtime Sabbath Saturday
When the stifling silence
Made it hard to breathe.

The dear woman was alone
With her thoughts and memories
In a new household
One day old.

In the quiet time
She recited psalms
And sang hymns
To keep her courage up.

She stirred up the treasures
Of her heart
And remembered
What He had told her.

She believed and waited,
Unable to control
Yesterday’s images
But digging deep
For His promises
And repeating them
Over and over again.

As evening replaced day
She knew what to do,
Setting the table simple
With a plate of flat bread
And a cup of wine.

Sleep was out of the question for her
And the night hours slow passing
Wed the silence to the darkness
In a strange and powerful way.

At last, at long last,
A hint of dawn,
And suddenly in the room
He appeared
Changed, yet recognizable
To her mother’s eyes.

The joy, the light of His body
Banished Friday’s sorrow
As she feasted on His adorable face,
As she drank in His living Presence.
Mother and Son
Sat at table
Giving thanks together
While He broke the bread
And blessed the cup
Of His body and blood
Of the new and never-ending life.

-Marybeth Greene, Easter 2013

Peace of Jesus’ Risen Beating Heart and Happy Easter from LAMP Catholic Ministries!

Some of the LAMP missionaries gathered together to celebrate Easter

I Call You Friends

Friendship is a theme that has been running through our ministry of late.

As we gather together the start of each new week, we give glory to God by sharing how He has been working in each of our various ministries. Whether it’s a shelter for families, our food truck parked on the street, a nursing home, a parish, a Sunday-school class or places inbetween, the Lord has been greeting us as friends.

“There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.” – St. Thomas Aquinas

God became man in the person of Christ Jesus, and showed us His Love in the flesh. He came to show us the path back to eternal life in Him. He came to reveal to us His Face, a Face of Mercy, and restore us back to friendship with himself.

Each day, we are privileged to be a friend and be shown friendship in return with those we serve. The Heartbeat of Jesus has truly been present in the simplest of ways this week: laughter, spending extra time with people, building trust, conversing with non-spiritual persons, insight in prayer how to love, a hug, a smile, a “You are Precious in God’s eyes” card.

“Friendship brings out the best in a person through forgetfulness of self.” – St. Thomas Aquinas

In the Gospel of John, one of many lasting sayings Christ leaves with us is, “I no longer call you slaves, but friends.” To be friends with all, and live in the fullness of live with Him: friendship restored. In our friendships, they must ultimately lead us to the truest and trustiest friend, Jesus Christ. Thanks be to God, Our Father, who is restoring His friendship with us one day at a time, one person at a time.

-LAMP Missionary Marta Stangl

Welcome

Welcome to the website of LAMP Catholic Ministries! We are currently in the process of updating our website, and this page is currently under development. To learn more about us and our ministries, please use the links on the menu and homepage.

May God bless you, and Mary intercede for you,

LAMP Catholic Ministries

Life to the Fullest

One day we spent extra time visiting with people on the street instead of our usual schedule at Holy Cross on 42nd Street. At the end of our route, Ed told us there was one more person we could visit with who has met LAMP missionaries over the years. He introduced us to Dylan*, a homeless veteran with one prosthetic leg, a cowboy hat, shoulder-length red hair, and a new “USMC” tattoo on his neck.

We started chatting with him, asking how he was doing. At first, he responded, “I’m fine”, but I could tell by his eyes and his tone that wasn’t his true answer. Neither of us responded, and after a few moments of silence he continued, “Actually, I’m not fine.”

Dylan told us how he sleeps on the streets and how people search through his pockets and try to take advantage of him, partly because of his leg. He showed us a pocketknife that he keeps in his hand and told us that he sleeps upright in his chair, half on-guard against people trying to rob him.

Eventually, Brooke asked him if he has a favorite Bible verse; he responded, “Yes, John 3:16 – ‘God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son…'” I was reminded of one of my favorite verses, so I told him and asked if I could share it with him.

We pulled out a New Testament Bible that we had with us, and I read to him John 10:10, “A thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy; I came that they may have life and have it to the fullest.” He said, “Hey, I love that! I really love that.”

Offering him a copy of the Bible to read anytime, he asked if we had reading glasses. We did, and we went back inside to get some. After we gave Dylan the eyeglasses, he exclaimed, “Wow! I can see!”

A light sparked in his dark eyes, his face softened, and his hard street exterior began to crumble. We then asked if he would like for us to pray with him; he stuck out his hand and we each placed a hand on his fist and prayed with and for him.

After closing our prayer, we asked him to pray for us, meaning to keep us in his future prayers. Yet once more Dylan stuck out his fist and we touched his hand as he led a simple prayer from the heart to Jesus, asking for many blessings for us, his “sisters”, and those we would serve that day. After, he sang us a song he made and encouraged us “kids” to keep up the good work.

The Lord showed me that day His Word in flesh. He let the three of us live John 10:10. His Heart beat through each of us as our hearts spoke to one another. I’m continually surprised by the many ways Jesus disguises and reveals Himself through the poor here in NYC.

-LAMP Missionary Marta Stangl

From Comfort to Conversion

I left my comfort zone in Pittsburgh, PA seven years ago to become a missionary and evangelist. But I got a whole lot more, a loving witness in community and learning valuable lessons from the materially poor. I found myself through being with others I normally wouldn’t have contact with. 

How can you not be affected seeing Tom, our founder, manage the ministry affairs and tend to the needs of his ailing wife, our departed co-founder Lyn. Lyn almost always smiled and said kind things even when her body was under attack with earthly pains. What a lady. Monday after Monday she had to be assisted to our weekly community gathering, but when she got in her seat it was like having the zeal of St. Peter exhorting us missionaries onward in our call to serve the poor with a love that can only come from Jesus, not from ourself. And what a witness of selflessness seeing Marybeth and Ed take care of us missionaries, putting aside their needs for ours. 

The warmth of LAMP was easy to enter into, and my life started to drastically change. I began to realize through other Christians and their unique and personal witnesses of unselfish acts of love that a deeper love in life could be possible for me! Having many blessings through my life, I never thought I could deepen my heart until I witnessed many acts of love while at LAMP.   

I’ve had the privilege to serve with dozens of missionaries through the years, sharing our triumphs, challenges, and ourselves, learning so much from each and everyone of them. I remember the “man’s man” Timothy, now 3-years deceased. We approached a person on the street face down wearing a dress, but we could tell the person was a man. Without hesitation, (I was frozen) Timothy picked that person off the ground with so much love you would have thought it was his own mother. Knowing the tough old school Timothy, it had to be God at work!  What an eye opener it was that day at the Bowery.  

Though I’ve learned many lessons at LAMP, one sticks out the most. All people have the capability and tendency to do both good and bad, that we as Christians are challenged by Jesus to take the narrow way and choose the good in the other and ourselves. I really needed to learn that, and still have a lot to learn. Coming to LAMP, I thought I knew myself, my good and bad side, and had life figured out and under control. Well, being with the materially poor in the Bronx day after day, you learn more than you bargain for.   

Like the time I encountered a Muslim woman who frequented our canteen truck ministry LAMPcafé. She was in full Muslim attire and would bark orders at our truck loudly demanding food, even trying to cut the line.   Needless to say she wasn’t the most popular amongst us there.  But LAMP trained me to react in love and compassion, so I tried it. I would talk to her in loving tone, and save her extra scraps of food and sundries we had donated (she could not eat our staple ham-and-cheese sandwich), and give her a little extra when I could. Well after a few months coming weekly, she softened. Then one day she came and I handed her a bag of food, and she said, “I want something else”.  I shuddered to think, “What else lady?” on that very busy Friday serving 140 folks. She said, “I want one of your Christian prayer beads”. She meant the rosary. I nearly fell over. I explained what it was, that we believe Jesus is God coming to save His children; she accepted it. The next week she brought another Muslim woman to get a rosary for her.   

This lady taught me about my tendency to sometimes be quick to judge, and the power of seeking the deeper, sometimes veiled inherent goodness of each person. After she starting bringing her children to meet me, I realized she had a lot of mouths to feed, that she had to have tough love to be a mother and scrap and survive. Before I met her I thought Muslims were closed to Christianity, but I guess I was wrong again! I’ve been humbled many times about my initial inclination. As things unfold, I learn more about what is Christian humility and my need to grow in it, such a stinging lesson!

 I must not leave out the materially poor nursing home residents I bring Holy Communion and minister to; how they persevere through loneliness and severe physical debilitation, but still find love inside themselves, praying and receiving Communion and showing me love despite their deteriorating physical and emotional condition. They teach me to not give up or give in and to reach inside myself when I want to give up, to seek God and the better things in life, love. That life is not about being comfortable, but seeking and finding the richness of life, God and love, no matter the size of the cross we have. It is a joy to see God never abandons anyone, only we can abandon Him. I must keep going to those nursing homes, where more learning is needed.  

In closing, if it weren’t for being with my sisters and brothers in LAMP Ministries, and doing for others, the materially poor, I would never have gotten to see the deeper more Christ-like goodness I am capable of (with God’s Grace), unless I saw it lived out by others. My life would not now be filled with as dynamic of love, love of a community of missionaries, and the poor, who teach us to grow and to see who we really are, people capable to grow deeper if we step outside of our comfort zones. 

As for me, I am much less a follower of myself. I am one of many Christians who have worn the LAMP mission Crucifix going out face-to-face, loving the materially poor, seeking to be followers of Christ day in and day out. I may not have completely found myself, but one thing is for sure, I want to be like Jesus and only Him. I am grateful He puts His qualities in the many folks who will let Him bring His Light in them. 

And thank you beautiful Bronx, may heaven shine on you like you shine on me and in me. 

LAMP missionary Steve Patterson

Advent, Winter Newsletter, and SEEK Conference..

We wish you a blessed and fruitful Advent! May our hearts be inflamed with love for Our Lord as we patiently await his coming in a special way this season. Christ, who was born to renew the earth, and whose second advent will mark when God “makes all things new” (cf. Revelations 21:5) continually renews and uplifts us individually, as communities, and in the entire Church on earth. Here at LAMP we are excited to see what Our Lord’s plan will bring us as we enter into the Advent season and prepare to celebrate His Incarnation in just a few short weeks.

We are happy to announce the completion of our latest newsletter. Feel free to check it out here to see how we have been following the compassionate heartbeat of Jesus and Mary in our ministry and life.

This January 2-9 LAMP will have a booth at the SEEK Conference in Indianapolis. Come and find us to meet missionaries Luke Matthews and Brooke Pasker and learn more about LAMP’s developing mission!

Video from our 35th anniversary!

LAMP recently celebrated its 35th anniversary at a Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral with Timothy Cardinal Dolan! Here are, courtesy of St. Patrick’s Cathedral:

1) An abbreviated video segment (25:35) containing portions of the Mass, the entire homily, etc.

2) The clips that show or discuss LAMP directly (3:49)

The video of the entire Mass is available here . Jesus bless you!

The Power of a Simple Yes

Liliana* had been at Baychester, a homeless shelter for women and children, for quite a while now. Each time the missionaries knocked on her door, she declined any invitation to pray and seemed very uninterested in speaking with us. So today, we walked past her room without knocking expecting the same attitude. As I walked past her and saw her back turned to us through the open door, I felt the spirits of fear, despair, and deception present. I slowed.

Give me a chance. God whispered to my heart.

Okay, Lord, yes. But I have no idea what is going to come of this.

I turned around, a bit fearful, and lightly knocked on her open door.

“Hi I’m Hailey and this is Mary. We are from the church and were wondering if you wanted to pray today?”

Come Holy Spirit.

She looked over her shoulder and threw down her towel.

“Yes, I actually would. I need guidance.”

God took that yes, that slightly opened door of her heart, and seized the opportunity to love her. She was overwhelmed with being a mother, so we spoke of our mother, Mary. Her eyes lit up at the picture of Our Lady of Fatima which she hung on her mirror. She listened attentively and actively as I taught her how to pray the rosary.

“You know, even if you aren’t praying it at any moment, you can still hold onto it because there is power in it; Jesus is present.” I encouraged.

“I once had a rosary,” Liliana began. “Whenever I would leave to go somewhere, I would put it in my daughter’s baby bag and so I knew that no matter what happened, Jesus was with us. I lost it a while ago and have been looking for another one. And now I have one again.”

Yes, yes you do. Jesus is taking care of you. Lord, I’m amazed by you.

Then we prayed.

Come Holy Spirit.

We prayed with the story of the parting of the Red Sea. God our Father parted the sea to guide the Israelites safely to the promised land. Lord, right now we may be looking at a raging sea in front of us, unsure of how to cross it. But you can and will guide us safely through to the abundance you have prepared for us on the other side. Jesus, we trust in you.

As we prayed, tears began to fall upon her shirt. They were tears of freedom. Chains were breaking. She was being set free.

“Sorry,” she sniffled, “I haven’t cried in a while.”

In that moment, I knew the Devil was defeated. He no longer held her in the bondage of fear—Christ gave her peace. He no longer held her in the bondage of despair—Christ gave her hope. He no longer held her in the bondage of deception—Christ’s beating heart resounded, each beat whispering His love into her heart. The fog was lifted. She encountered His love. She encountered His Heart that beat solely for love of her.

Jesus’ beating heart moved my heart to say yes to giving Him a chance to love Liliana that day. Jesus’ beating heart moved Liliana to say yes to prayer that day. And on that day Liliana was set free by Jesus’ Beating Heart to say yes to His perfect peace, hope, mercy, and love. That is the power of a simple yes. That is the power of love.

– LAMP Missionary Hailey Megge

His Beautiful Face

Two LAMP Missionaries were serving at our LAMP Café ministry on a beautiful late summer New York day. At first glance, the scene looks familiar—the same location, the same silver Café truck, a long line of our brothers and sisters hungry for food and especially hungry for God. But this is God’s ministry so no day is ever mundane. It is always fresh, always new.

Marco wouldn’t come close to the truck.

“Can we talk over here, away from the truck?” He asked as Mary approached him to talk and offer to pray with him.

“I don’t want to stand too close because I smell bad. I know that it’s not nice to be around me because I smell. No one wants me around.” He said this softly, his eyes cast down.

Everywhere, wherever you go, you find people who are unwanted, unloved, uncared for, just rejected by society—completely forgotten, completely left alone… -Mother Teresa

Marco is bound by the chains of alcoholism. The missionaries sat and listened to his story. Mary, a LAMP Missionary, recounts their conversation.

“He was crying and explaining that we don’t understand addiction. I said that he was right, I don’t know what drug/alcohol addiction is like but I can still feel for him. I struggle with other things, as all of us do.” When we serve the poor, many times, we cannot heal them from their sickness or take away their pain. We can simply be there with them as a testimony that God loves them in the midst of it all.

Standing at the cross of Jesus was his mother…(John 19:25)

“He shared how he doesn’t want to drink but feels like he has to. I gave him a small Divine Mercy image explaining the mercy of Jesus and how that mercy can give him the freedom he is aching for.”

Let us fall now into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are great. (2 Samuel 12:14)

The conversation came to a close and they all prayed together.

“I thank God for sending me beautiful people like you” Marco said through tear filled eyes.

Mary, recognizing the beautiful face of our suffering Christ as He endured His passion in this man’s suffering face, replied under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit,

“I thank God for sending me a beautiful person like you.” And she meant it.

– LAMP Missionary Mary Maynard