Archive for the ‘The Poor’ Category

Let Us Walk Among Them With Works of Mercy   Leave a comment

On this August morning, let us who call ourselves Christian, with a gentle and courteous spirit, “accept all people as a gift of the Lord and an image of Christ.” Church, if you are seeking to help the poor, let us individually and as churches begin in our own towns and neighborhoods. The poor – the needy – the suffering are among us and they need us every day. They need for us “to love our neighbor as ourselves.” They need for us to walk among them, distributing loaves and fishes.

Let us show charity to our neighbors with corporal works of mercy:

Feed the hungry
Give drink to the thirsty
Clothe the naked
Shelter the homeless
Visit the sick
Visit the imprisoned
Bury the dead

Let us show charity to our neighbors with spiritual works of mercy:

Admonish the sinner
Instruct the ignorant
Counsel the doubtful
Comfort the sorrowful
Bear wrongs patiently
Forgive all injuries
Pray for the living and the dead

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church on works of mercy:

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:

“He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none and he who has food must do likewise.” [Luke 3:11] “But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you.” [Luke 11:41] “If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit?” [James 2:15-16]

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A SONG FOR NAGASAKI   Leave a comment

I recently read a book entitled A Song for Nagasaki by Fr. Paul Glynn, SM. It is the story of Takashi Nagai. Nagai was a devout Catholic convert, husband, father, teacher, doctor, and writer. Nagai lived in Nagasaki, in Japan, when the United States dropped the A bomb on August 9, 1945.

When the A bomb dropped on August 9th, Nagasaki suffered a direct hit in its Urakami district, the historic Catholic area, and 8500 Catholics were killed (including Nagai’s wife) and more suffered and later died from the effects of atomic radiation. St. Mary’s Cathedral was totally destroyed.

St. Mary’s construction began in 1895 and was completed in 1917, twenty-two years later. The work began under the direction of an amateur architect priest, and it was a colossal effort, all done by poor people. The Cathedral was 230 feet long and accommodated five thousand worshippers. It was largest cathedral in the Far East, with two bell towers more than one hundred feet high.

Intercessions of Fr. Maximilian Kolbe, OFM Conv.

When the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Dr. Nagai was working at the hospital, about one-half mile away from the center. Soon he and others in the hospital began showing signs of radiation sickness. Nagai was thought to be dying, and in his coma, he heard a voice telling him to pray to the Franciscan friar, Fr. Maximilian Kolbe, OFM Conv. Nagai had known Fr. Kolbe well in the early 1930s and had x-rayed him concerning Fr. Kolbe’s chronic tuberculosis.

Nagai recovered by October 5th, and he attributed his remission for six years to the intercessions of Fr. Kolbe. Not known to Nagai, Fr. Kolbe had died on August 14, 1941, in the Nazi German death camp of Auschwitz in Poland. He was canonized Saint Maximilian Kolbe on October 10, 1982 by Pope John Paul II.

Fr. Kolbe had a history in Nagasaki between 1930 and 1936 when he undertook a series of missions to Japan and founded a monastery, Japanese paper and seminary. He established Mugenzai no Sono (the Garden of the Immaculate), built on the slopes of Mount Hikosan. It was saved when the bomb dropped because it was built on the opposite side of the mountain from the Nagasaki center.

Religious Persecution

A Song for Nagasaki describes the persecution of Japanese Catholics down through time and how they suffered and died for their faith. Truly, we in the United States do not know what religious persecution is compared to the people of Japan and other countries. We have not suffered physical torture or martyrdom at the hands of our government yet.

I have reflected on all the books I have read concerning torture and death of Christians, through actions or sanctions of the government, beginning in the New Testament. Consider all the persecution and deaths of Catholics and Protestants from the 1500’s, down through time, especially in England, beginning with Henry VIII. Consider de-christianization of France during the French Revolution. Consider events in Mexico in the 1900’s, especially in the 1920’s, depicted in the recent movie, For Greater Glory, and the book, Mexican Martyrdom by Wilfrid Parsons, S.J. Consider Nazi Germany (The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by Shirer). Consider the history of Christian persecution, tortures, and deaths in countries throughout the world on this single website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persecution_of_Christians.

On the internet, Open Doors provides the World Wide Watch List of the 50 countries where Christians are most persecuted. The countries where persecution is most severe are North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Maldives, Mali, Iran, Yemen, Eritrea, and Syria. http://www.worldwatchlist.us/

Certain Unalienable Rights

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed . . . .” Declaration of Independence.

The First Amendment to the Constitution states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

We must guard our religious freedom and keep the government from unconstitutional domination and restrictions. Learn from the history of other countries. Seek the truth and study the founding documents and history of our country, especially the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Understand that the First Amendment to the Constitution, in the Establishment Clause, limits the power of our government but does not limit the religious freedom and power of the citizens, contrary to what is being indicated by the government, the media and others. Help to eliminate ignorance, apathy and the low information voter who may rely on Twitter and social media for their news.

Religious persecution often starts slowly, growing into a hideous, evil monster, ending in the suffering and deaths of many. Yes, it can happen to us here in the United States.

Let Us Follow the Poor and Crucified Christ

As Christians, we must fight against loss of religious freedom through prayer and fasting, through being a light to the world, and through standing for respect for life from conception to natural death. Most important of all, remember the Lord says, “ if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14. Is this not what Saint Francis also would say to us? Did he not put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-17)?

All Christians are called to holiness and to live in the spirit of the Beatitudes on this journey home to the Father. Secular Franciscans must follow our Rule and the lead of our Holy Father Francis to live in simplicity and care for the poor.

It is not the duty of the government to care for the poor but the duty of the Church to assist and care for the poor, sick, orphans, widowed, the homeless and all the marginalized. We must not allow the government to usurp our duties to those in need in our country and the world. The Church restores dignity to peoples and leads to salvation for the many. It assists and cares but does not enable. The government creates dependency and powerlessness among the people in its drive for power.

In March 22, 2013, Pope Francis, in the audience with the Diplomatic Corps, spoke of “fighting poverty, both material and spiritual, building peace and constructing bridges.” He spoke of respect for the whole of creation and the protection of our environment. He is the Pope for our times, showing a true Franciscan spirit by his life and teachings. He points the way to the Way, and for Secular Franciscans, our Rule guides and instructs us.

The Twenty-Six Martyrs of Nagasaki in 1597
The Twenty-Six Martyrs of Nagasaki in 1597

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Sources and recommended readings on the World Wide Web

1. “The Catholic Holocaust of Nagasaki – ‘Why, Lord?’” Brother Anthony Josemaria, August 1, 2010.

http://www.hprweb.com/2010/08/the-catholic-holocaust-of-nagasaki-why-lord/

2. “Takashi Nagai’s Life and Message of Peace,” Cecilia Bryan, June 23, 2012.

http://catholicism.org/takashi-nagais-life-and-message-of-peace.html

3. Twenty-Six Martyrs Museum. http://www.26martyrs.com/

4. “The Conversion of Takashi Nagai, And His Vocation of Life,” Frank Weathers, April 28, 2013. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/yimcatholic/2013/04/the-conversion-of-takashi-nagai-and-his-vocation-of-love.html

Ephesians 6 – Battle against Evil.

10 Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. 11 Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. 13 Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. 14 So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, 15 and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all [the] flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Source: http://www.usccb.org/bible/ephesians/6

The Lord Hears the Cry of the Poor   Leave a comment

 

THE LORD HEARS THE CRY OF THE POOR

By John Foley, SJ

The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
Blessed be the Lord.
I will bless the Lord at all times,
his praise ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the Lord,
who will hear the cry of the poor.
Let the lowly hear and be glad,
the Lord listens to their pleas;
and to hearts broken God is near,
who will hear the cry of the poor.
Ev’ry spirit crushed, God will save;
will be ransom for their lives;
will be safe shelter for their fears,
and will hear the cry of the poor.
We proclaim your greatness, oh God,
your praise ever in our mouth;
every face brightened in your light,
for you hear the cry of the poor.
(Source)

Posted January 3, 2013 by ouidaofs in Jesus, Music, The Poor

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