Catholic Charities Appeal 2019

We are now more than halfway through the 2019 Catholic Charities Appeal. As you can read on page five of this edition of The Anchor, the appeal is doing well this year, thanks to the generosity of so many people throughout the diocese (and even beyond it).

This past Tuesday we celebrated St. Barnabas, a saint we first hear about in the Acts of the Apostles when he sold property and gave the proceeds to the Apostles. “There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the Apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need. Thus Joseph, also named by the Apostles Barnabas (which is translated “son of encouragement”), a Levite, a Cypriot by birth, sold a piece of property that he owned, then brought the money and put it at the feet of the Apostles” (Acts 4:34-37).

Most of us are not called to such radical giving, although we are called by Christ to respond to His needs in our brothers and sisters not just by giving from our surplus, but also giving from our need.

Yesterday (Thursday) we celebrated St. Anthony of Padua. He is most known today as our helper when we have lost something (of course, St. Anthony does this for us as part of Christ’s plan to bring us closer to Him, not as some “side” activity Anthony is doing on his own from Heaven). This Franciscan saint was a great preacher and a great lover of Christ in the poor. He said, “O rich people befriend the poor, welcome them into your homes: it will subsequently be they who receive you in the eternal tabernacles in which is the beauty of peace, the confidence of security and the opulent tranquility of eternal satiety.” Here he is helping us to not lose the most important thing in life — our eternal souls.

On June 13, 2018 Pope Francis said to the crowd in St. Peter’s Square, “Today is the memorial of St. Anthony of Padua, Doctor of the Church and Patron of the Poor. May he teach you the beauty of authentic and freely given love; only by loving as He loved, will no one around you feel marginalized and, at the same time, will you yourselves feel ever stronger in the trials of life.”

That same day Pope Francis signed a message for the Second World Day of the Poor, which was observed on November 18. In it he wrote, “the poor hear voices scolding them, telling them to be quiet and to put up with their lot. These voices are harsh, often due to fear of the poor, who are considered not only destitute but also a source of insecurity and unrest, an unwelcome distraction from life as usual and needing to be rejected and kept afar. We tend to create a distance between them and us, without realizing that in this way we are distancing ourselves from the Lord Jesus, Who does not reject the poor, but calls them to Himself and comforts them. The words of the Prophet Isaiah telling believers how to conduct themselves are most apt in this case. They are ‘to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free and to break every yoke ... to share bread with the hungry and bring the homeless and poor into the house ... to cover the naked’ (58:6-7). Such deeds allow sin to be forgiven (cf. 1 Pet 4:8) and justice to take its course. They ensure that when we cry to the Lord, He will answer and say: ‘Here I am!’ (cf. Is 58:9).”

Later in the message, the pope issued an invitation, which, although directed towards last November’s observance, is also relevant as we participate in the Catholic Charities Appeal. “I invite my brother bishops, priests, and especially deacons, who have received the laying on of hands for the service of the poor (cf. Acts 6:1-7), as well as religious and all those lay faithful — men and women — who in parishes, associations and ecclesial movements make tangible the Church’s response to the cry of the poor, to experience this World Day as a privileged moment of new evangelization. The poor evangelize us and help us each day to discover the beauty of the Gospel. Let us not squander this grace-filled opportunity. On this day, may all of us feel that we are in debt to the poor, because, in hands outstretched to one another, a salvific encounter can take place to strengthen our faith, inspire our charity and enable our hope to advance securely on our path towards the Lord Who is to come.”

So, we are called to share not just our money (although that is very important and needed to be able to help address the material and Spiritual needs of thousands of people throughout the diocese), but also our lives, as we work together as brothers and sisters, not in condensation, but in the equal dignity that God placed in us and sees in us. 

The Catholic Charities Appeal continues through June 30. If you have not made a donation yet, please see details on page five as to how to do so. If you have, thank you for your generosity. May God help us to respond to each other’s needs, seeing Him as both the giver and the receiver. 

© 2019 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing    †    Fall River, Massachusetts