Peace be with you!

My name is Nader Ata. I am a Conventual Franciscan Friar of the Our Lady of Angels Province, USA. I am a transitional deacon preparing for Priesthood Ordination in the fall.

Seeking to live with Franciscan Joy each and every day!

*All of photos on this blog were taken by me unless noted otherwise. Please ask permission before using them. Thank You!*

*Also I am not the greatest speller or writer in the world, so please let me know if something is misspelled. Thank you!"


Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Simple House

You are probably wondering, "Who are all these people and why is Nader not in the picture?" Well I am not in the picture because this is a picture of entire A Simple House community. Essential A Simple House is an organization of lay missionaries who work with the poorest of the poor in the neighborhoods of Washington, DC and now Kansas City, MO. My good friend Ryan Hehman is a member of this group, but that is not way I am dedicating a post to his life's work.

A Simple House was contacted by The Washington Post and a very interesting article was written about them. I encourage you to check out the article entitled "A Not-So-Simple Life". Why? - because they are just one of many organizations that address the poverty present here in America -as some say 'the wealthiest nation in the world." One does not need to travel to Africa to find the poor, rather drive a couple blocks to "wrong side of town" or walk into the backyard and you will see poverty here in our own country. A Simple House not only goes to see the poor, but works with them, gets into the heart of their messy complex lives, and reaches out a hand to say "I am here to walk with you."

There have been some very cynical and pessimistic comments posted in response to the article written about A Simple House. I recently added my own not so pessimistic comment to the website as well.. The article does not due the organization justice for the good work they do. Granted not everything is accurate and as all media there is a spin placed to it by the writers of the article; but A Simple House is trying to put the Gospel into action in a way they feel called. Not everyone is to live as they live, yet we are called to address poverty within the vocations we have been given. If you feel called please leave a positive comment after reading the article.

At the house of formation in San Antonio, the homeless and those who are in need of food can come to our door for sandwiches during the daylight hours. We offer bologna and cheese with mayonnaise, mustard, or both or peanut butter and jelly. If we have an abundance of sweets or fruit we give that away too. We do not give out any cash, but in this tiny way we help to satisfy their stomachs. I know that this is something small, that it is not a solution, and that it is temporary, but you would not believe the number of people that can come to our door some days. We have our regulars and we have those one timers too. I try to ask those who come to our door their name and shake their hand - it is important for me to give them dignity by calling them by name. I also like to toast the bread for them because when I make a sandwich for myself that is what I do - so I try to do it for them too.

In what ways are you able to help the poor? Help out at the local Soup Kitchen - do you even know where that soup kitchen is? The next time a homeless or poor person asks you for money, don't just give them money but buy them lunch and if you have time sit with them. Find out where your local Habitat for Humanity Affiliate is. Donate your used clothing to a shelter. Look in your parish bulletin for community service opportunities. If you have a considerable amount of leftover after going out to eat arrange them nice in the to-go box and then give them to the first homeless person you see. Pray for the poor and those suffering in your daily prayers. I know that these are not solutions to the societal sin of poverty - but if everyone did a little something maybe the sin would no longer exist.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A New Day.....

Today began a new day for me for many reasons...

1) Today is a new day because it is literally a new day. A new day to try harder, to love more, to grow in conversion, to be alive, and to breathe for another day. It is another to change and to bring about the Kingdom of God on Earth.

2) Today is a new day because I began classes at Oblate for the spring semester. This marks the beginning of my fourth semester here, my 2nd of my 2nd year, and the end of halfway point for my graduate studies for the priesthood. It is exciting just to start new classes for me and to see my fellow students and my teachers again. For the first time every in my life I filled in my calendar with all the dates and times of my classes before the semester even started. Usually I am rushing to buy books, organize my supplies, start my course readings, and fill in my calendar at the same time - now I am somewhat prepared for the semester. I am actually taking seven classes this year - before you call me let me explain. I am taking the five regular courses for my track: Pauline Literature (how perfect during the year of St. Paul), Pastoral Counseling, Catholic Social Thought, Theological Field Education, and Christology. Then I am taking a class called Elements of Mission on the missionary life of the Catholic Church in prep for Costa Rica and other future ministries. And last but not least I am taking actually auditing Earth Our Home: Biblical and Theological Perspectives - which will be taught by nine professors each sharing about the Earth and their particular academic expertise. So I am looking forward to it.

3) Today is a new day because the 44th President of the United States was sworn in, President Barack H. Obama. At school we gathered in the student lounge to watch this historic event not only for Americans but for citizens of the whole world. It was powerful to have students, faculty, and staff of all ages, races, and experiences together at that moment. As the first African American President Barak he is leading us into a day many never imagined. What will come about during his presidency I do not know - but what I do know is that I live in hope. Hope for our country, the world, and God's kingdom. May God Bless Barack Obama has he leads our broken and hurt country hopefully into one of more peace marked by forgiveness.

4) Today is a new day for me to be thankful for my life and the lives of each person I encounter. I ponder the death of a member of one of the parishes that our friars staff. I did not personally know this person, but their death as due to suicide. What I ponder is what makes someone feel so compelled to commit suicide? I would like to say that I am not condoning in any way those who have committed suicide and I am not passing judgment on those who mourn the death of a suicide victim. I cannot begin to imagine the torment and the loneliness one goes through in thinking about, attempting, and/or succeeding in committing suicide. There is one thing I can imagine though, that is seeing God wrapping His arms around those who have committed suicide as he or she enters heaven. I can just hear God saying the most loving way "I love you and you are home." Know that you are loved by God and that God is always with you even when you cannot feel His presence - God is there. Do not lose hope in God's love or care for you!

Good Night and God Bless!