Dear Friends and Family,
‘Two Ways there are, one of Life and one of Death, and there is a great difference between the Two Ways.’ This is the first sentence of the oldest Christian document outside of the Bible, the Didache. This language is parallel to Christ’s identity as, ‘the Way, the Truth, and the Life.’ (John 14:6) We often think of ‘going to Hell’ as something that happens at the final judgment or as a rude accusation, but whenever we sin we are literally on the way to Hell. When we love, we are on the way to Heaven. There is a great difference between the two ways, and we deceive ourselves when we think we have made a truce with sin. St. Augustine says, “On the road to God not to go forward is to go backward.”
There is no such thing as the sin we need, the sin that helps a relationship, the sin that makes us happy. Every sin is unnecessary, destroys relationships, and makes us miserable. ‘The wages of sin is death’ (Romans 6:23), and every honest reflection bears this out. Sin makes life not worth living.
Most people we minister to have been and are going through periods of alcoholism, drug abuse, or prostitution. The cause and result of these problems are often the same: sin. We need to help derail people who are on the way of death. Many of the men we serve have abandoned their children and wives to seek false comfort. Mothers and children we serve often feel betrayed and have a great need for love. Our ministry encourages fathers to make the right decision, and tries to support mothers materially and spiritually so that they have a greater ability to love and provide for their children. We love because we have first been loved. God gives us love which is a reason to live. It is the reason to go to Heaven.
Because of the generosity of two new volunteers, Audrey O’Herron (who has moved into the House of the Three Teresas) and Aaron Maddeford. We are doing more ministry and more house work than ever before.
Every week is different, but we try to create structure while responding to the particular needs that frequently arise (I like to think of this flexibility as obedience to God’s will). In an ideal week, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday are used for ministry. Most of Sunday is filled with taking people to church. Two days each week are used to rehabilitate the House of the Three Teresas, and we defend one day each week as a day of rest.
The work on the House of the Three Teresas is extensive. Using volunteer labor and a few contractors, rooms have been patched and painted, the back wall of the house has been pointed, and new gutters have been installed to stop water from flowing into the house. Besides the ongoing work of plastering and painting, the house needs a new fence to stop drug use in the back yard and a complete fire alarm system with a control panel to meet DC rooming house requirements.
In late April, the Beachner family of Parsons, Kansas donated a luxury passenger van. This gift was especially timely because in May our mini-van was stolen, wrecked, and totaled by a group of men who then stole the police car which was chasing them. We are hoping to replace the mini-van soon because it is difficult to work from two locations with only one vehicle.
Since the last letter, over three hundred bags of Easter candy and toys were delivered to children, and approximately 95 gifts and invitations to church were delivered to parents as part of our Easter outreach. Besides general outreaches, our core ministry of personal outreach has also been expanding. On April 24, Visitation H.S. collaborated on the fifth Lasagna Outreach. They have also helped on two of the other four. Another notable and fun event occurred when two volunteers (one of whom is a lifeguard) took children swimming who had never even been to a pool.
In addition to ministry and house work, we traveled to Steubenville University, Benedictine College, and the University of Kansas recruiting missionary fellows. It is a challenging time of growth. We are constantly trying to refocus and renew our prayer life, which is the most necessary ingredient of our ministry. Please pray that we do not lose our way, and that we stay focused on our simple goal of loving, serving, and evangelizing the poor.
The Gospels portray the apostles as a befuddled and fumbling group of men following Jesus. All of their worst mistakes and most embarrassing remarks seem to be recorded in the Gospels. There is a special evangelical teaching hidden in these stories. We know the apostles messed up because they told everyone how they messed up. The apostles used their personal weaknesses and defeats to testify about God’s greatness. It takes humility and courage to talk about our mistakes and weaknesses, but it is our confessions which cut to the heart of our fellow man. It is less powerful (and less true) to say “Follow God because it has sure worked out great for me!” than to say “despite all of my failed efforts, hardheartedness, and self-deceit, God keeps blessing me.”
At 7pm on August 15, I will be speaking at a pub called Ireland’s Four Fields in Washington, DC. The talk is part of a speaker program called Theology on Tap. The focus of the program is to meet people in a comfortable environment and encourage them to explore the basic good news of Christ. It is always an honor to talk about God. Please pray that it will be an occasion of grace.
A special congratulations to Bill Hegedusich. Bill ministered with A Simple House the summer of 2004 and was ordained a priest this May.
In May, I turned 30 years old. I wanted to do something for God on my thirtieth birthday, but my spiritual director re-oriented me to give thanks for the grace God has, is, and will give to me. Even the desire to do something for Him is a grace, and it is a hard, simple, and beautiful thing to live in the consciousness of all His blessings.
Thank you for being a blessing to me and this ministry,
Clark Massey with board members Luis Cartagena, Kristina Massey, Michael Ortner, Richard Realbuto, and Fr. Adam Ryan OSB, and with live-in volunteers Laura Cartagena and Audrey O’Herron.