His Glorious Face

THE FACE OF MERCY: Stories and Reflections from the streets of New York

“Jesus Christ reveals the face of the Father’s mercy.” (Pope Francis)

Of You my heart has spoken: Seek His Face.” (Psalm 27)

May 24, 2016

It has been just over a week since a beloved brother in the Lord completed his journey to the Father’s House. Timothy Gilbride served faithfully as a LAMP Missionary for the past six years. After an unexpected cancer diagnosis in February, and a brief but valiant battle, he was taken home on May 15, 2016, Pentecost Sunday. Timothy was a joyful servant – full of abundant life, inimitable humor, and humble sincerity.

In these days since his death, wake and funeral, we in the LAMP family have shared many “Timothy stories”. There are many to share! One thing we dearly miss is listening to the riveting stories he himself told on Monday mornings at our weekly community gathering. While I could write about Timothy, I think it would be more effective to let you hear from him personally. The following is an account written by Timothy himself. Though just one of numerous stories from time spent with the elderly poor in several nursing homes in Brooklyn, it offers an authentic glimpse into the heart of our dear brother and friend.May Timothy, who constantly sought the Face of Jesus in His beloved poor, now behold His Glorious Face for all eternity!

“While doing my rounds at the nursing home, I came across Dolores* sitting in her wheelchair in the hall. She is ordinarily very eager to pray and talk about God. But this day she seemed out-of-sorts and distraught. She told me she didn’t want to visit this day. I let her know that if she changed her mind, I would be on her floor for a while. Moments later, she asked me to come to her room. She told me that she was not a good Christian because she could not forgive her husband. She then went on a 20-minute rant covering a variety of human emotions – mostly rage and sadness. She was crying, punching tables, and throwing items around the room. She obviously had very deep pain. Not knowing what to do, I prayed for guidance from the Holy Spirit.

Even though this was a woman well versed in the Bible, I could see that there was a different approach that needed to be taken.

I was led to just continue to listen. Apparently her husband had abused and tortured her for some time and she had never revealed this to anyone. As time went on she was getting more weary. The intensity abated. When she appeared to be completely exhausted, we prayed for God’s help and I departed. I left her in a peaceful state.

On my next visit, I was greeted with a big, warm, loving smile from Dolores. She exclaimed, “I have forgiven my husband. I prayed to God to help me forgive him, and I did.”

I thank the Holy Spirit for leading me to her, guiding me through our encounter, and leading to a peaceful resolution for her. And I am grateful to God for using me as His instrument to help heal her wounded heart.”

– LAMP Missionary Kirsten Goza

His Faithful Face

THE FACE OF MERCY: Stories and Reflections from the streets of New York

“Jesus Christ reveals the face of the Father’s mercy.” (Pope Francis)

Of You my heart has spoken: Seek His Face.” (Psalm 27)

May 6, 2016

Sometimes I struggle to be faithful. Last Tuesday was one of those days. I was standing on the street outside Planned Parenthood. It was cloudy. Cold. Feeling somewhat guilty, I still had to honestly admit to myself that I was simply…bored. Not too many conversations happening. I was trying to pray the Rosary but just kept losing track of endless Hail Mary’s. I could not focus. And it was a losing battle not to check my watch every two minutes (which felt like twenty-five).

I looked down the sidewalk at my fellow missionary. She was faithfully standing there, with her pro-life pamphlets and her rosary. Okay. We’re in this together. It’s not all about you. Just stay.

How much time left? Twenty more minutes?! Okay. Just twenty minutes. You can do this! Just stay. Be here. Present Moment. Grace is here. Offer it up. Sacrifice. Babies are counting on you. Stay. Remain. Faithfulness, not success.

Why don’t we just go? There’s only ten more minutes! Nothing is going to happen in the next ten minutes. Nobody is coming. It’s completely reasonable. You did your duty. It’s understandable. Some days are just like this. Don’t be so rigid. It’s fine. You can go.

Jesus. Help me. I cannot do this. Help me. I can stay here for five more minutes. It is not going to kill me. I trust You. Help me just stay these last five minutes! To be faithful!

Then, unbelievably, time’s up. Relief fills me as I glance at my watch and see the magical hand hit quarter past eleven. Praise the Lord!! I begin heading down the street to join the other missionary for our closing prayer. But I don’t see her at first…

Then I notice her, leaning in to the window of a car parked on the curb. She’s talking. Deep breath. Patience! Okay, Jesus.

I walk back to my post. And pray, more. Holy Spirit, be with her. Guide the conversation she is having.

Ten more minutes. But new resolve fills me now. Who is she speaking to? What is happening?

I glance over, and see the other missionary approaching me.

“That was amazing,” she says, shaking her head in disbelief. “That girl was just waiting in the car for her mom, who was in the building. She rolled down the window and actually asked me for a pamphlet! How did she know what I was doing here? Anyway, she’s pregnant. She has three children, and wants to finish school. She said she’s not sure if she should…terminate…”

As my sister missionary went on to describe their conversation, it became so clear that the Holy Spirit needed us to be there for those last five minutes! The young woman took our literature, and it seemed hopeful that she would reach out to the Sisters of Life for help. And that she was now more willing to give this baby a chance by choosing life.

I learned something that day about fidelity, even in small things. Results may not always be visible, as they were so mercifully that day, but His grace is always present and active.

Because, “Strong is His love for us. He is faithful forever” (Psalm 117:2).

– LAMP Missionary Kirsten Goza

His Redeeming Face

THE FACE OF MERCY: Stories and Reflections from the streets of New York

“Jesus Christ reveals the face of the Father’s mercy.” (Pope Francis)

Of You my heart has spoken: Seek His Face.” (Psalm 27)

March 31, 2016

It was Tuesday of Holy Week. She appeared across the sidewalk from me, looking around for a building address. I got that familiar sinking feeling in my stomach as I thought, “I bet she’s trying to find Planned Parenthood.”

I approached to offer her one of our pro-life brochures. Looking confused, she responded, “Oh, is this where the parenting place is?” Side-stepping her question, I explained that we were offering information about free pre-natal resources. Did she know someone who was pregnant?

Suddenly, she opened up. She was pregnant. It was her first baby. She was not from New York and didn’t know how to access resources here. She felt afraid…overwhelmed…unsure. She had considered abortion, but…something in her heart told her that was not the answer.

I told her about the Sisters of Life and encouraged her to call. “You can do this,” I told her. “God has a plan for you and for this baby. But you can’t do it alone. It’s not going to be easy. But He is going to be there, and there are so many people out there who are willing to walk the whole way with you.”

I gave her a rosary and explained what it was. “Mary is a mother. She is the Mother of Jesus. She knows what it’s like. She struggled. She can walk this path with you.” I watched her thoughtfully fingering the pink plastic beads.

Then I handed her two Scripture cards – “This one is for you. And this one is for your baby.” She read the verse: “You are precious in God’s eyes (cf. Isaiah 43:4).” She smiled at me and started to cry at the same time.

“Now you’re making me cry. It’s just because I’m pregnant!” she laughed.

I asked about the baby’s father. Was he in the picture? “Actually,” she answered, discreetly glancing sideways, “he’s right over there.” There was a man leaning against a mailbox on the curb. “Sometimes it’s hard to talk to your partner about…these things,” she continued.

“Right,” I responded. “That’s why you need positive support from others.”

“Okay. I’m going home, and I’ll call the Sisters from there. I feel better. I think God put you here. Actually, I saw you out here last summer. I remembered you when I came today. I was actually looking for you. And then, there you were! And…can I have a hug?”

Jesus, I don’t remember ever seeing this woman in my life. I don’t know where she came from. All I know is that we stand out here week after week and, once in a while, You show us Your redeeming Face. Thank You.

– LAMP Missionary Kirsten Goza