Feeding hungry hearts

Catholic Relief Services recently found themselves in hot water after one of their VPs shared that the charity was “proud” not to “engage in discussions of faith.” He elaborated, “We assist everybody because we’re Catholic, we don’t assist people to become Catholic.” After getting a bit of flack from other Catholic organizations, CRS backpedaled and laid blame to misinterpretation. But with or without the damage control, his advertisement for faith-free charity remains a scandal, and not an isolated one.

We all know that we do well to bring God glory by serving the least of these in their temporal needs… clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, etc. But to what end? That they may die with a full belly, ignorant of the love of God?

Jesus calls us to preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15). And while CRS is certainly at fault for its failures to do so, their error calls into question my own response to God’s commandment. Because I’m not on the front lines of a charity, serving the destitute under a clear banner of faith, my challenge lies in fulfilling God’s will to proclaim His Holy Word in my own, average American life. Although spreading the love of God to those in material poverty would seem easiest and especially righteous, most of us aren’t likely to find ourselves in such humble circumstances. Instead, we should consider those with whom God has connected us most directly, who may have stocked pantries but hungry hearts.

I think first of my husband and children. In the vocation of marriage and motherhood, leading your spouse and children to Heaven, to sainthood, is one’s highest priority. Second, my parents, siblings and relatives. If I am so privileged as to enjoy eternity in the company of the angels and saints, although I am promised uncompromised joy, what sadness to imagine my loved ones missing out on that experience. Third, my friends and acquaintances. So clever is God in bringing certain people together through chance moves, meetings and introductions… what a disservice it would be not to let His light shine in all those relationships, so that those living without His company may encounter Him through me…

Encounter Him in His fullness, as He desires to be, in the truth of the Catholic faith. Until we enjoy the beatific vision of Christ in Heaven, the closest we can be to our Lord on this earth is receiving Him in the Holy Eucharist. It is an immense gift of faith to recognize Jesus in the consecrated host, and one we should not be ashamed to share. For Jesus Himself said, “Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you.” (John 6:53). There is no greater hunger than this… for the body of Christ. And no one shall be satisfied without Him.

So we mustn’t make the same mistake as CRS, concerning ourselves only with the temporal needs of others, but also working to satiate their spiritual hunger. We should point every person we know toward the Holy Eucharist. If they recognize the True Presence of Christ, hold them accountable to the proper reception of His most precious Body and Blood. If they misunderstand Holy Communion as being only representative of Christ, instruct them with your most passionate effort to help them find the Truth. And if they do not know Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, introduce them the greatest gift our Lord has given us since his death and resurrection.

Holy Eucharist

 

Sin: where’s the social consequence?

If I touch a hot stove, I burn my hand. If I hold my breath too long, I turn blue. If I watch too much America’s Next Top Model, my brain is oozes out my ears. Totally logical consequences to bad decisions.

But what happens when I move in with my boyfriend before I’m married? Or I abort my baby because I’m not ready to be a mom? Or I start dating women? Or I decide to stop going to church?  Also bad decisions… but consequences… what consequences?

In world that’s given up God, and almost altogether abandoned any idea of natural law, living free and fearless is the new gold standard. Because what is there to fear? Whatever happens, you’re perfect just the way you are and the universe loves you no matter what. Go on! Move in with your significant other. What’s the difference anyhow… now or after some silly ceremony? Have the abortion. That baby wouldn’t have had the life it deserved anyway. Give the same sex a try. If you didn’t, you’d just be denying who you really are. Forget church. You have your own, personal spirituality and that’s what counts.

Where are the hard realities, the social stigmas that once were, when you shacked up before marriage or had a baby out of wedlock? When we know that “every sin is social, insofar as and because it also has social consequences,” (Compendium 117), where are the consequences? How are so many of my friends and loved ones happily cohabiting, contracepting, leaving the Church… without any objection from others?

They are either ignorant of the costs of their decisions or they are too chicken to face them. And sadly, it makes sense… because we live in a world of accommodations. Nobody likes being uncomfortable or unhappy when they have the option to avoid it. The joy and reward of sacrifice and struggle has gone out the window and been replaced with vapid, feel-good pleasantries.

How awkward is it to instruct the ignorant, when we can simply hold their hand and say “God loves you no matter what”? How can you tell someone that their hard and fast plan for x-amount of children, their premarital sex life, their laissez-faire attitude toward faith & church… is a grave offense to their loving God …without spurring a fiery argument, or at the very least, hurt feelings and a strained relationship. You can’t. Especially in the midst of an evermore secular society that’s continuously affirming individuality, independence and pride.

And for fear of these challenges, the faithful (myself included) have quietly cooperated in the devil’s great plan of veiling the social consequence of sin. And the taboos are fading away, as fewer begin to worry about the opinions of others when they unabashedly disobey God’s commandments, without anyone holding them accountable.

Lost sheepFor every Catholic you know marrying in a protestant beach wedding, hosting a housewarming party with their cohabiting partner, saying “yes” to the pleasure of intimacy but “no” to God’s gift of life, celebrating their disordered sexuality, obtusely justifying their sin after much “prayer” and the “discernment” that God just wants them to be happy … where is your loving, instructive voice of truth to help guide these lost sheep home?

We must ask for God’s mercy on us all, and seek His grace that we may become renewed beacons of light and restored salt of the earth, for “…if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” Matthew 5:13. We must be bold in our faith, using not just our actions but the voice of the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel and bring souls back to Christ.

Babies and blessings

Earlier this week, readers of left-leaning media were spoon-fed another dose of anti-child propoganda in an article from the Washington Post titled “5 charts that show why it costs nearly a quarter-million dollars to raise a kid today“. Whew… a mouthful of a headline, but in case you don’t read further, it gets the message across: babies are crazy expensive!

Lifesite News shortly afterward published a more realistic perspective on the cost of raising children, pointing out that the more you have, the less expensive they become.

onesieThere is no doubt that children cost money, from the first bottle of prenatal vitamins to the final semester of college tuition. And while it might be interesting to learn the statistics on family spending, I’m not thinking of imminent costs when I look at my baby boy, because he’s worth so much more than a quarter-million dollars.

Price tags aside, I’ve found one single thing that’s kept my personal cost of raising a child to an almost insignificant amount: Christian charity. And in a world that’s always counting the cost, we need a little more of it if we want to encourage mothers to keep having babies.

…Remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’
Acts 20:36

So blessed then, are men like my husband… who give their wives the wonderful privilege of staying at home to raise their children, who work tirelessly to provide for their families, and who make daily sacrifices that they may not have to worry about childcare.

So blessed are women like my friend, Dawn… who selflessly offer their time and care to babysit at no cost, just to make a few of life’s occasions easier for mamas like me.

So blessed are sisters-in-law… who pass along enough nice-as-new, hand-me-down furniture, clothes and toys that moms like me don’t have to spend a dime furnishing a nursery.

So blessed are grandparents and great grandparents and aunts and uncles… who love on new babies like it’s their job, continuously celebrating their cherished life with special gifts sent for no particular reason, other than wanting to share love with the baby.

So blessed are moms like my friend Kimberly… who, with lots of kiddos of their own, offer practical advice that saves you precious pennies – like using a laundry basket in the bathtub instead of a fancy seat!

So blessed are the strangers at the grocery store, the mall and the hospital… who help bag your groceries when they see your hands are full, who run to grab doors, to load your trunk, to reach what you can’t, who get you diapers when your baby has a blowout and you’ve forgotten to refill your bag before a midnight emergency room visit.

So blessed is every hand that touches my child’s life that I may not have to count the cost of raising him to adulthood.

No mother should be scared out of having children because of their cost. If we lived in a world that placed a higher value on sharing, giving, and providing for new moms, we might be able to celebrate more births, lose fewer “unwanted” babies, and be a better example of Christ in supporting struggling moms… that they may be reminded of the glory of their vocation as mothers.

“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.  She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.  She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.  Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:  ‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.’
Proverbs 31:25-29