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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Team Generosity
“The charity of Christ urges us on” (2 Corinthians 5:14)

Father Michael Sliney, LC
Father Michael Sliney, LC

By Fr Michael Sliney, LC

Fr. Michael Sliney, a Legionary priest serving in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States, specializes in the faith formation of young people and is the founder of the Leadership Training Program.

     Each month I have the opportunity to spend some time with some members of the Princeton Lacrosse team.  I speak with 9 of them in spiritual direction.  These are extremely busy and focused young men.  Their typical day consists of six hours of classes, 3-4 hours of practice, a quick dinner and then a late night study until 2:00 AM.  Sunday is their official “recovery” day to sleep a little more, go to Mass and then catch up on lost study time.  So when Tripp Shriner, a sr. from Connecticut, told me about his plans for Fall break, I was pleasantly surprised.  

       He said, “Fr. Michael, a few of us have been going to Mass together every Sunday, and the priest has been talking about the need to give something back to the community. He said that service should be the fruit of our prayer and worship.  So last Sunday after Mass, one of the guys mentioned the possibility of a doing a “Habitat for Humanity” project in New Orleans over break.  Momentum and interest grew, and within a few hours we had 12 players committed.  We recently played our alumni lacrosse game and the coach made a petition to the alumni after the game for donations so as to make a financial contribution to the local community.”   So these 12 young men spent their 8 days of break in New Orleans building a house and cleaning debris.  They flew back on a Sunday night and were back to the ordinary grind on Monday morning. 

     Mother Theresa once said that love is not true love unless it really hurts.  I have no doubt that this was a true act of love.  These guys were looking forward to a fun break, but they gave that back to God, they gave that back to others.

     I recently had the grace of attending the
Father Michael Sliney mass in woods
A wintry Mass in the woods.
Christmas Vigil Mass in Rome with Pope Benedict XVI. These words from his homily struck a chord in my heart:  “Among the many gifts that we buy and receive, let us not forget the true gift: to give each other something of ourselves, to give each other something of our time, to open our time to God.”  People need our love.  You may not always be able to make a trip down to New Orleans or Mexico to help the poor , but you can do the little things at home. Our family members need to receive something of ourselves and they need something of our time.  My oldest brother Jim gave me both. Every night after dinner, he played ping-pong with me for about 30 minutes and then would help me with my homework.  He was not playing ping-pong so that his skills would improve (he beat me nearly every time!), nor was he helping me with my homework to “build his college resume.” He was playing out of love for me and to make me happy. What an amazing big brother!!

     It comes down to the basic problem of either being selfish or selfless.  This is our daily battle.  The Holy Spirit, who by definition is love itself, is our trainer and personal coach.  We need to listen to him.  Tertullian wrote; “You have to face a good fight, where the spectator and the referee is only God, the Holy Spirit is our trainer and the reward, an eternal crown.  Hence our enroller Jesus Christ who has anointed you with the Holy Spirit and who has made you enter the arena for the day of struggle has removed you from the world of easy life for a hard training in order to prepare you more strongly.” (To the Martyrs, III).   I do not think that anyone reading this letter will be asked to be a martyr or to spill their blood for their faith.  But the daily martyrdom of “self-giving” will be asked of us all. 

     Finally, I encourage all of you to open some time to God.  Pray!  But, don’t just talk to Christ. Listen to Christ!  Listen to what he wants to do through you.  Although Christ is stuck in heaven and inside tabernacles all over the world, he is anxious to love through each one of us.  He wants to touch so many minds and hearts through our lives! 

     Be assured of my prayers for you and your family!

God bless you,

Fr. Michael Sliney, LC



Related links web site
Mission Network
Our Lady of Bethesda Retreat Center and the Center for Family Development
Changing Hearts
Cancun-Chetumal Prelature
Helping Hands Medical Missions

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