Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization
"Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization"
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Tuesday, April 01, 2014
Charity - personal and "institutional" / Bulletin Column April 6, 2014
Dear Brethren in Christ,
Recently, a question was raised about the work of Catholic Charities in the Church and our support of it through the Bishop’s Appeal. The specific objection was to the “institutionalization of charity.” It was argued that we Christians are called to personally volunteer ourselves to directly help those in need, seeing in them the face of Christ, and not to give money to an agency to do the works of charity for us. Scripture calls us to love like Christ. To give to an agency like Catholic Charities, in this line of thought, is an abdication of our Christian responsibility which will not merit us anything from God. I hope and expect that all of us do our best to meet the needs of people who cross our path. But there is more to the work of charity in the Church.
The parable of the Good Samaritan is the story of a traveler coming personally to the aid of a bleeding, beaten and abandoned man on the side of the road. His first instinct is to love as Jesus loves, without counting the cost. Yet, when his time, talent and treasure are exhausted and the man still needs more help, the Samaritan entrusts him to the care of an innkeeper. At the inn, the man is nursed back to health by others, whom the Samaritan pays to care for him. He even promises to give more in his return trip. He is called “good” both for his charity and for his creative insight in recognizing who could better help the man in the long term.
So it is with the charitable work of the Church. There is no doubt that there are many people whose needs outweigh our individual ability to help – sometimes financial, medical and psychological needs that we ourselves cannot meet. In January alone, over 600 people came to Ashtabula County Catholic Charities for emergency assistance. As the Church established by Christ and as His family of disciples, we are obliged to help those in need. Sometimes, this means giving our coins to those with the skills and resources that can help improve another’s life. You entrust me as your pastor with the donations given to the Vincentian Fund and I help people who come to the rectory with food, gas, utilities, clothes and occasionally rent. When I encounter a person whose needs outweigh the ability of the parish to support them, I refer them to Catholic Charities. As a pastor and board member, I trust that they will find the help they truly need there.
Similarly, we trust the bishop to use wisely the funds given to the Bishop’s Appeal and we trust the good people who work at Catholic Charities, “the Bishop’s administrative arm for charity,” as it is described in diocesan policy. Catholic Charities is a ministry of the bishop and not a government agency. When a person receives assistance from Catholic Charities, they also meet with a case worker, who helps them plan a strategy for making better life choices. It’s about more than a hand out. The Church helps people to be strong and healthy men and women. Without the “institutionalized” charitable works of the Church – orphanages, hospitals, clinics, shelters, agencies, etc. – the poor would be left without someone to help them in a way that recognizes their dignity along with offering assistance.
Thank you for your support of the Bishop’s Appeal, the primary finding source of Catholic Charities in our diocese. Love is the core of our discipleship – both in heartfelt sharing of our blessings and in obedience to the precept of the Church to financially support the work of the Church – she who is the hands and feet of Jesus to those most in need.
God bless you!