This post was sponsored by a generous lay member of the Diocese of Barbados. COVID19 has hit this Catholic diocese particularly strong and many parishioners are in need of assistance.
Consider helping out by visiting God Squad T-Shirts to purchase a Catholic t-shirt. 100% of all proceeds will be used to buy food for the poor.
Over the centuries, humans have endured unimaginable trials. Volcanoes, hurricanes, droughts, famines, floods, and World Wars. The author of Ecclesiastes was right in saying, “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; and there is nothing new under the sun.”
Our current situation with the COVID19 pandemic may seem unique. While the majority of people living haven’t experienced an event of this magnitude in their lifetime, largescale illnesses have spread the globe before. The virus has not only affected individual’s physical health but also spiritual, emotional, mental, and economic health.
The Catholic Church has been a bastion of hope during these times in the past. Now is the time for the Church to provide aid again. More than a building or group of bishops, the Church is primarily a community founded on love and obedience to God. According to 1 Peter 2:7-8, “The stone which the builders rejected, This became the very corner stone.”
The primary commandment is to love God with your whole heart, mind, and soul and the second is to love your neighbor as yourself. How precisely do you love your neighbor in 2020?
Corporeal Works of Mercy
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 2447,
The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God.
Jesus specifically detailed these works of mercy in Matthew 25: 35-46. Preceding the passage about the Judgment of Nations are the Parable of the Ten Virgins and the Talents. The first parable teaches about the importance of being prepared spiritually because we don’t know the time when our death arrives. In the second parable, Jesus talks about how our natural talents should be used for the common good. If we share our talents (time and treasure) to help others in need we will receive countless graces.
Dioceses throughout the world face economic hardship due to the lockdowns. Our brothers and sisters in faith suffer hunger and financial strain. It can be difficult to help others in need especially if you and your family are currently going through similar pressures. Below I will examine a couple examples of saintly witnesses who cared for the poor despite suffering their own crosses.
Saint Gemma Galgani
Gemma Galgani is the patron saint of the poor and unemployed. She was only 8 years old when her mother died. Gemma’s father encountered financial strain shortly after. He was always a good steward with his wealth, but sickness and the death of his wife led to creditors seizing his property. Succumbing to cancer of the throat, Gemma’s father passed away when she was 19 year old.
Gemma orphaned lived in destitution and the churches had to take up collections for her and her siblings to eat. The saint wrote, “I am happy in every way that Jesus wills, and if Jesus wants the sacrifice of my life, I give it to Him at once. If He wants anything else, I am ready. One thing alone is enough for me; to be his victim, in order to atone for my innumerable sins, and if possible, for those of the whole world” How incredible is her faith? Certainly her story resonates with us during this year of endless trials.
Saint Charles Borromeo
Another saint who lived through an impoverished time was Charles Borromeo. As bishop of Milan, he is most famous for organizing the last session of the Council of Trent. The patron saint of catechists also promoted reform in the Catholic Church. At first his life may seem completely different from Gemma— a bishop versus an orphan.
Charles exhibited the same care for the poor as Gemma. He lived through the Bubonic plague (yes the 16th century was crazy!). Milan endured famine and eventually outbreak of the plague. Despite the secular leaders fleeing the city in fear, Charles remained to care for the people. He sought to feed 60,000 to 70,000 people daily and used all his funds feeding the hungry that he eventually went into debt.
The Italian bishop lived out the corporeal works of mercy. He sought to comfort the afflicted and care for the poor and sick. Saint Charles is an outstanding model for our current situation.
Be Christ to Others
Saints Gemma and Charles listened to the God’s will in the face of their own suffering. Loving our neighbors is not always easy. But carrying our crosses never is easy. Jesus said in Matthew 16:24, “Take up your cross and follow Me.”
Sadly, I have seen people remain apathetic to others’ suffering. “I doesn’t affect me. I don’t know them so why should I care.” God created humans to live communally. We are to care for the less fortunate. Our life can turn around quickly. Those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic know truth well.
Live out the corporeal works of mercy. Become Christ to everyone you meet. Donate to the poor individually or to charities. You may not be able to help out financially at this time. Share your time or talents with your neighbors. Pray for the conversion of souls and end of the pandemic.
Help our Catholic brothers and sisters in the Caribbean by visiting God Squad T-Shirts to purchase a Catholic t-shirt. 100% of all proceeds will be used to buy food for the poor.
If you are not able to donate at this time please share this post with your Catholic family and friends.
May God bless you and your generosity!