Monday, August 31, 2009

What is your name?

Near the end of Jacob's wrestling match with the Angel of the Lord (Genesis 32), the Heavenly Wrestler asks, “What is your name?” The last time he'd been asked that, Jacob lied, claiming to be his brother Esau. Jacob's name can be translated "deceiver." This time, Jacob tells the truth. Until we answer, “My name is bitterness, greed, unfaithfulness” we can’t be healed. “My name is indulgence, depression, unforgiveness.” When we’re ready to come clean, God will make us clean. Until then we’ll remain just the way we are, untouched. God may be wrestling with us to rid us of our self-reliance. God may be saying to us, “You are manipulating your life, making your own arrangements; My child, what is your name?”

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Ch (MAJ) Tim Vakoc, RIP

Chaplain (MAJ) Henry Timothy Vakoc, the Army's sole chaplain to have been severely wounded in Iraq, died June 20, five years after an improvised explosive device injured him on the drive back to camp from celebrating Sunday Mass for Soldiers in the field. The IED attack occurred on the 12th anniversary of his ordination as a Roman Catholic priest, May 29, 2004, as he drove along the road returning to his unit, the 44th Corps Support Battalion in Mosul. The roadside explosion gravely wounded him, taking his left eye, paralyzing his left side and leaving him with a traumatic brain injury. He was evacuated to Germany and later to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and then to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Minneapolis, near his hometown of Robbindale where he continued to have numerous surgeries and infections. He was later awarded a Purple Heart, the Bronze Star and the Combat Action Badge before being medically retired. In an email to the National Chaplain Register before he was wounded, Chaplain Vacoc referred to his ministry of presence: "I live with the soldiers, work with them, eat with them, care for them, listen to them. They know if you're real and genuinely care or not. The soldiers see me out there with them and that makes a difference." We'll all miss you, Fr Tim.