Where are we in the equation? What can we as
individual Catholics do to reach out to those in need? Here are a few
Change your attitude. Too
often we paint in broad strokes and make assumptions concerning the poor. Be charitable.
People in poverty don’t choose their situation. Who would? Any of us could be
one job loss, illness, or tragedy away from joining the ranks of those
struggling to keep themselves above the poverty line. Rather than tearing down
the poor, why not try to help change their reality?
Hit the grocery. Many parishes have food
pantries where those in need can come to get groceries. Add a few items to your
normal grocery list to donate.
for change. Get involved with organizations, such as St. Vincent
de Paul, or programs that work to help people escape the grips of poverty,
either through employment, housing, or education. Check with your parish to
find opportunities or make connections.
You might find ways to use your skill
set to help make a difference in people’s lives. For instance, if you’re a
teacher, you could help tutor students so that they can further their education.
Education is a key route out of poverty.
Or, if you’re adept at working on houses,
you could help with repairs or general upkeep for those who can’t for various
prayers for people in poverty not only are for them, but also for us. We pray
to align ourselves with the spirit of God’s will: we must love one another as
we would love ourselves.
In their 2002 pastoral letter, “A Place at the Table,” the U.S.
bishops issued a call to Catholics to care for the poor. The letter can be
found at: usccb.org.
In the letter, they issued the following challenge: “As Catholics, we must come
together with a common conviction that we can no longer tolerate the moral
scandal of poverty in our land and so much hunger and deprivation in our world.
As believers, we can debate how best to overcome these realities, but we must
be united in our determination to do so. Our faith teaches us that poor people
are not issues or problems but sisters and brothers in God’s one human family.”
Our leaders are right. People in poverty are our brothers and sisters. We are
called to help them. We are compelled to help them. Our faith demands it.