We are the Church

One of the most common complaints I hear on a regular basis begins with the phrase, “The Church isn’t doing enough for…” and you can fill in the blank a million ways. The Church isn’t doing enough for engaged couples preparing for marriage. The Church isn’t doing enough for the poor. The Church isn’t doing enough for married couples who are struggling, and of course, the one I hear the most is, “The Church isn’t doing enough for divorced Catholics.” So, I just have one question in response… who do you think the Church is?

We are the Church. We, alongside Pope Francis and the cardinals and bishops, the priests and deacons and religious, are the Church – the everyday Catholics in the pew. Why isn’t the Church reaching a strong and powerful hand out to the niche groups we all see are suffering? Well, the hierarchy is. You may have noticed a little Synod on the Family going on in Rome these past weeks. But for complaints and cries and calls for action that are heard, what are we complainers doing to help?

~ Lisa Duffy

A genuine attitude of sharing and service

Minority calls to be and feel oneself little before God, entrusting oneself totally to his infinite mercy. The prospect of mercy is incomprehensible for all those who do not recognize themselves as “minors,” that is, little ones, needy and sinful before God. The more aware we are of this, the closer we are to salvation; the more we are convinced that we are sinners, the more we are disposed to be saved. It happens thus in the Gospel: The persons who recognize themselves poor before Jesus are saved; instead one who thinks he has no need does not receive salvation, not because it is not offered to him, but because he has not received it. Minority also means to come out of oneself, of one’s schemes and personal views; it means to go beyond the structures — which are also useful if used wisely –, to go beyond habits and securities, to witness concrete closeness to the poor, to the needy, to the marginalized in a genuine attitude of sharing and service.

Nothing about being deserving at all…

Note the shocking lack of qualifiers Jesus puts on that. Nothing about being deserving at all. Nothing about the hope and promise that the poor will take the charity, “make something of themselves” and then pay back. Indeed, he pronounces a special blessing on generosity and love to people who will not and cannot reciprocate.

~ Mark Shea, “Against Punishing the Poor” via NCRegister.com

Encourage others to follow

From the hills and plains, from cities and farms, they come in every age; clergy, religious, laity, treading the road to holiness in the footsteps of the little poor man of Assisi. Working together in love and mutual support, they throw the meaning of Christ’s love into those corners of the marketplace where huddle the poor, the friendless, God’s little neglected ones.

Franciscans are simple people whose many-faceted lives are directed toward “becoming like little children.” Working hour by hour, at varying tasks under various conditions, they seek only to stand as a diversion from the pettiness of the world, and by their living the gospel life after the manner of Francis, encourage others to follow.

~ Benet A. Fonck, OFM, Called to Follow Christ

The acts of charity that you do not perform

It’s not easy to determine the best ways to act with kindness and mercy. Of course St. Basil the Great, of the fourth century, saw less grey area. He put it quite simply: “The bread which you do not use is the bread of the hungry; the garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of him who is naked; the shoes that you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot; the money that you keep locked away is the money of the poor; the acts of charity that you do not perform are so many injustices that you commit.”

~ Kerry Weber, Mercy in the City: How to Feed the Hungry, Give Drink to the Thirsty, Visit the Imprisoned, and Keep Your Day Job

Our inordinate possession of things

This article of the Rule (Article 11) calls us to begin where Francis did, trusting in God, for without this trust we can do nothing. Francis chose exactly what Christ chose and nothing more: he chose a poor and humble life. Are we called to give up everything as Francis did? No, but we are to give up our inordinate possession of things. The rich young man, whom Jesus looked upon with love, turned from Jesus because his possessions were many.

~ Teresa V. Baker, OFS, For Up to Now (FUN), Chapter 12: “The Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order”

The culture of prosperity deadens us

To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase. In the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.

~ Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium

Evangelii Gaudium: The great danger in today’s world

The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades.

~ Pope Francis via uCatholic, 20 Quotes From Pope Francis’ First Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium”