Saturday, July 26, 2014

Benefecisti autem

It’s always great to be told you did something well.  And that is exactly what Brian Mulholland did to me this past week.  He runs the foundation that operates food pantries at several Catholic parishes in poorer parts of our city.  He came to retrieve your gifts from the Emergency Food Drive we held last week in response to the urgent need at Holy Name Church on Florida Avenue. 
He told me your response was huge and amazingly generous.  He told me it will be an enormous help.  He told me that your immediate, straightforward response was a model for other parishes.  He told me Daina Scheider, our Social Concerns chairman, really knows how to make things happen and is a delight to work with.
It was great to be told that.  But YOU need to hear it too!  So there you have it – that’s really what he said.  So, my thanks and admiration to all who so matter-of-factly rose to the occasion. 
Alarmingly, just as we were finishing that drive, Daina told me she got a panicked call from another food pantry, this time closer to home, here in Silver Spring.  We will let you know what you can do about that – it might not be another all-out drive, but watch elsewhere in the bulletin to find further opportunities to lend a hand to neighbors whose summer is not shaping up so nicely as ours is. 
There is so much going on around the world that bears no resemblance to this happy, leisurely summer time we carefully maintain for ourselves around here.  Vacation travel, carefree evenings, farmers’ market bounties, and time for fun are very much missing from the lives of many we see portrayed on our screens and our front pages.  I don’t know about you, but it can lead to a feeling of some helplessness and almost futility as I check the headlines lately, almost as if Original Sin is staging a late-innings rally that will put the lid on a real-world series victory.
I have to remind myself what Cardinal Baum always used to recall, which is that the victory is already won, by Jesus Christ, Savior of the World.  We know how the story ends because we have seen it revealed in Him and celebrated it every year in Holy Week, and Easter.  To remind ourselves of that, and to focus our attention on that in thought and in prayer is our vocation in the face of crisis.
Some things we can respond to and remedy by our material actions, like local hunger with the food drive.  But what about murderous downings of airliners, or systematic demolition of Christian communities, or ancient hatreds being manifested and magnified with rockets and assault weapons?   What about the institutionalization of contempt for Christian truth and all who live by it?
Use your time this summer when other demands are fewer to grow your faith.  [Continue to] serve the neighbor closest to you by providing for his material needs.  Read, watch a video, or study the teachings of our Faith, which will help you understand how Christ works in the face of evil and sin.  Sacrifice your time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament for the consolation of brothers and sisters who suffer.  Raise your voice in gratitude and defense of the protections that we precariously enjoy. 
You have done many things well, but this is no time to rest on your laurels.  These are things that you can do well.

Monsignor Smith

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