Blogpost by Carmen Marcoux
(Co-Founder of Pure Witness Ministries)
Highlights of this blog:
Be still, and know that I am God
| Psalm 46:10 |
“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.”
| St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta |
Dear Family and Friends of Pure Witness,
Another year has swiftly made its course! Once again, we write to you with Christmas greetings and a chance to share with you what God has been doing through our mission at Pure Witness.
This first four months of ministry was not what anyone expected – especially staff. This was a very atypical year for Pure Witness. Not since our first year have we had so few retreats before Christmas, with fewer than normal bookings and then some retreats cancelled or postponed for various unexpected reasons.
But God allows for all things. He is very intentional in all He does. He had a plan for Pure Witness this term and for each member of our staff and team. It has given us the opportunity to put into practice the counsel of St. Paul who exhorts us to “rejoice always, pray constantly and give thanks in all situations, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16)
Often, we can become so focused on outreach as the primary goal of Pure Witness, that we forget that it is God who sets the agenda. Our missionaries are called to a three-fold mission of Community Living, Faith Formation and Outreach. God can do a great deal in all these areas, and certainly we know that as our missionaries grow in each of these areas of their life, God is preparing them for a mission in life much bigger than their year on Pure Witness. As far as we are concerned, the first fruit of Pure Witness is, and always has been, the Team – our Missionaries. It is into these young men and women that we pour our energy, efforts, love and resources, that they might have a year of personal transformation.
Normally outreach – putting on retreats and events – makes for a very busy pace of life, and in that busyness life can become very “noisy” and distracting. But this year has been “quiet”, which causes us to reflect on the meaning of “silence” in our lives. Despite the fact that our community house, Domus Galilaeae, gets very noisy at times with the youthful and joyful presence of all these dynamic young people, life in general has been quite silent. We, both staff and team, have been invited into a particular stillness these past four months, and in that stillness we have discovered that where there is silence God is usually speaking the loudest!
I heard a speaker once say, “Silence is the reality into which all noise invades.” Silence is the place where the soul most naturally encounters God. It would seem that God has been “shouting” into our lives … as He stirs up all the noise that dwells within us through this unexpected time of silence. In deed, it has been a time of fruitful personal reflection for each of us.
Cardinal Robert Sarah, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, recently co-authored a book entitled The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise (Ignatius Press). In an interview he gave regarding this book he made the following observations:
“Modern existence is a propped-up life built on noise, artificiality and the tragic rejection of God, combined with an implacable hatred of silence…. In the negative sense, silence is the absence of noise. It can be exterior or interior. Exterior silence involves the silence of words and actions; in other words, the absence of noise from doors, vehicles, jackhammers, airplanes, the noisy mechanism of cameras, often accompanied by dazzling flashes, and also that horrible forest of cellphones that are brandished at arm’s length even during our Eucharistic liturgies. As for interior silence, it can be achieved by the absence of memories, plans, interior speech, worries. Still more important, thanks to an act of the will, it (interior silence) can result from the absence of disordered affections or excessive desires….
For some years now, there has been a constant onslaught of images, lights and colors that blind man. His interior dwelling is violated by the unhealthy, provocative images of pornography and violence. The silence of the eyes consists of being able to close one’s eyes and cast out these horrific and corrupting images in order to contemplate God who is in us, in the interior depths of our personal abyss….
Silence of the heart means to keep quiet inside ourselves, mastering our various fleeting desires, memories and fantasies, to keep them under the lordship of Christ.” (Interview with Cardinal Robert Sarah)
It seems that the Lord was graciously giving us each a far more productive time than just what we experience in busy outreach. Time to be more still than we typically are in the hustle and bustle of this culture. Time to hear His voice speaking into the depths of our hearts. Time to reflect on the daily call to personal conversion. Time to allow the Holy Spirit to bring about a work of transformation in our lives. Time to go more deeply in our personal relationship with Christ. Time to tune our ears and hearts more finely to His Word: that Word which was made flesh so long ago in Bethlehem, that came to the world in such beautiful silence – hidden and humble.
“While gentle silence enveloped all things, and night in its swift course was now half gone,
Your all-powerful word leaped from heaven, from the royal throne.”
| Wisdom 18:14-15 |
This is the mystery that God has invited us here at Pure Witness more deeply into these past four months. It has been like an extended Advent in preparation for Christ’s coming in our lives. And perhaps this is the most important work of transformation God will be doing in our lives this year, in preparation for what is to come – not just in the busyness of outreach in the many retreats booked in the New Year – but also in our lives beyond Pure Witness. This time of silence has truly set the stage well in each of our lives for the greatest adventure of all:
To fall in love with God is the greatest romance;
to seek Him the greatest adventure;
to find Him, the greatest human achievement.
| St. Augustine of Hippo |
So now we move forward from this first term of Pure Witness with hearts ready to serve, renewed in strength and in faith, and prepared to announce the Good News of our salvation to a world that is dying to hear it. As St. Teresa of Calcutta said: “The more we receive in silent prayer, the more we can give in active service.”
We pray that your Christmas celebrations will be filled with an abundance of God’s blessings and that in the busyness of the season you will find time for silence, that the Lord will speak loudly into your own hearts of His love, His mercy, His vision and His mission for each of your own lives. We pray that through the generosity of so many Christian hearts responding to God’s call in their lives, God might bring about a transformation in our world for the peace that only He can give. May the blessings of the Prince of Peace, born on Christmas so many years ago, be yours now and throughout the New Year!
Below are brief messages from each of our missionaries (both staff and team) here at Pure Witness. As you see the faces and read the testimonies of these beautiful souls, know that your support and prayers are making a great difference in their lives and the lives of all those they will witness to both this year and over the years to come. You are helping to build the Kingdom of God, one heart-transformed at a time!
With gratitude for your prayers and support!
James and Carmen Marcoux
Co-Founders of Pure Witness Ministries
~ Courtney Buhrke
~ Christa Taylor
~ Gregory Mallett
These past four months my team has had the opportunity to put on retreats for both youth and the elderly. We are currently in Advent, and as we prepare for Christmas break we are listening to talks and growing deeper in our prayer life. We have learnt a lot in these first four months and I am very excited for the new year to start.
~ Michael Salamida
~ Katie Jodoin
~ Sariana Kirk
~ Daniel Pashula, Retreat Team & Assistant Team Coach
~ Rebekah Marcoux, Team Coach
~ Christine Paquin, Office Assistant
~ Matthew Marcoux, Music Coordinator
~ Laura Rice, Communications Manager
Senior Home Outreach
One of the fruits of these past four months has been our opportunity to dive more deeply into serving the elderly in our Senior Home Ministry initiatives. Thank you for all who have supported this specifically. It has been a grace for us to reach out to those who are often forgotten in the busyness of our culture. At the end of November, the team had the opportunity to take a small tour in. The whole experience was a huge blessing for both the residents in the homes, and for the team.
Here is what a couple of the missionaries had to say about the experience:
Ministering to the elderly has been a beautiful gift to provide our time and retreats to these beautiful souls. Many areoften forgotten in their old age and I have been touched by their gratitude of our investment in them. God is still working in these people’s lives and it has been our honour to revive their hearts in the hope of the future and love of the faith.
~ Sariana ~
It is an absolute blessing to do retreats for these elderly. They have so many stories from their past of how they have come to know their faith. One woman said to me, “It reminded me of the conversion I had when I was in university”, as she related to the drama that we had put on for her moments before.
~ Michael ~
Because Senior Homes can not afford to bring us in we would like to provide this program to them for free. In order to do that we need your help. If you would like to financially support us in this specific area of outreach you can do so! Click here and choose to designate your donation to “Senior Home Outreach”. Your gift will allow our team to continue to provide this program to Senior Homes in the new year and in years to come!
Pure Witness Christmas CD
Are you still looking for a Christmas gift for someone?
Or would you just like some new Christmas music for your collection!
Order the Pure Witness Christmas CD online!
The songs on the album are a mix of genres and styles, from acapella to rock to “crooner-style”. There are songs that will make you want to get up and dance and ones that you can pray with. Old songs made new and songs that maybe you haven’t heard before!
This is an album for anybody and everybody.
1 CD: $20
2 CDs: $30
5 CDs: $60
+5 CDs: $12 each