Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
"Pope Francis: The Face of Catholic Charities"
by Bishop Blase J. Cupich
(From the December 19, 2013 edition of the Inland Register)
The Church, all of us should divest ourselves of worldliness. Worldliness is a murderer because it kills souls, kills people, kills the Church…Without divesting ourselves, we become pastry-shop Christians, like beautiful cakes and sweet things but not real Christians.
Pope Francis laid down this stirring challenge to Christians on Oct. 4, during his visit to Assisi. He did so by recalling how his namesake, St. Francis, had cast off his sumptuous robes in favor of a life of simplicity and service to the poor.
By using the image of divesting oneself, the Holy Father dared us to live our Christian lives with greater authenticity and trust in God. Divesting ourselves not only benefits those in need, but has great spiritual value for each of us, as we learn to trust more fully in God rather than ourselves.
The pope is also saying that a practiced and habitual life of detachment frees us from the slavery to materialism and creates in us a deeper appreciation of the things that really last, that really matter. In divesting ourselves, we become like the eternal God, whom, we recall at Christmas, gave over everything to us out of love, even the life of His only Son.
With such statements, Pope Francis is quickly becoming the face of the Church’s charitable acts. Rob McCann and I thought about that when considering how to kick off the annual Catholic Charities Christmas Collection. Rob is the director of Spokane Catholic Charities. So many parishioners have expressed to both of us great enthusiasm for the fresh leadership the Holy Father is offering. Some have even asked if the pope knows the impact he is having or if there is a way for us to let him know of our support. It occurred to us that this year’s collection may be just the occasion we all have been looking for to let Pope Francis know that, in this, the first year of his Petrine Ministry, we stand with him and support the inspiring approach and direction he is giving to the Church.
We decided, then, to dedicate this year’s Catholic Charities Collection to the pope, convinced that we will be honoring him by providing for those most in need in our midst and by witnessing to the spirit of detachment he has urged.
This annual collection is also our opportunity to stand with those at Catholic Charities who work and volunteer each day and to honor the extraordinary contribution they make to the Church and society at large. Catholic Charities does so by operating completely within its own margins. It does not, and never has received any financial support from the diocese or its annual appeal.
Many parishes have also scheduled representatives from Catholic Charities to speak at the Masses during Advent. You may want to take a moment to thank these volunteers for their service throughout the year.
While the collection is a direct mail effort, in order for it to be successful, I have asked our pastors to provide brochures in the pews during Advent, so those who may not have received one at home can have a copy. Parishes have also been urged to arrange for a dedicated second collection for Catholic Charities at all Christmas Masses, so that people can return their envelopes or offer cash donations.
As I have noted on earlier occasions, Catholic Charities is the Catholic way of proclaiming our fundamental belief that God has taken on our flesh and is recognizable and present in those who are the least in our midst. Through this Christmas Collection we will give voice to the voiceless, hope to the hopeless and help to the helpless. With Pope Francis we will say to the world that the poor are not invisible, nor forgotten. We must know them, walk with them, care for them, and ease their way, as our Holy Father is doing in so many stirring ways.
I invite you this year to see your participation and generous support of the Christmas Collection as a moment to boldly support the Holy Father and the ministry which we share with him in proclaiming the Good News to the poor in our time.
Please help this year’s Christmas Collection be a strong statement of solidarity with Pope Francis. I will find an opportunity to inform the Holy Father what we are doing as a means of encouraging him to bring to fulfillment the good work God has begun in him.
© The Catholic Diocese of Spokane. All Rights Reserved