Written by Sunnie Lain, Director of Conferences and Community Outreach.
In our Ash Wednesday reflection a few weeks ago, we talked about the three key things that we are called to do during Lent: Pray, Fast, and Give. There is a reason why these are the three disciplines that we take part in. Praying helps us to grow in our relationship with God, Fasting helps us to learn more about ourselves, and Giving helps us to build relationships with others.
One of the key beliefs of Catholic Social Teaching is that in every decision we make as individuals and as a society, the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable among us must be considered first. The choices we make have an affect beyond ourselves. What we do with our time, our resources, and our talents impacts others around us as well.
During this season of Lent, when we are called to look within ourselves and think about how well the choices we make reflect our values, we can ask ourselves:
• Do I give special attention to the needs of the poor and vulnerable in my community and in the world?
• Am I overly concerned for my own good at the expense of others?
• Do I take part in service and advocacy work that protects the dignity of poor and vulnerable persons? (taken from the USCCB’s Examination of Conscience in Light of Catholic Social Teaching)
In today’s world, we can easily fall in to the trap of thinking of ourselves and our needs first. It is easy to forget the needs of others. But our faith holds that the moral test of any society is based on how the most vulnerable among us are treated. God’s love is for everyone, so this doesn’t mean that we should focus on the poor to the exclusion of others, but rather that we are called to think first of those people in need. It’s easy to sacrifice for the people closest to us, but harder to think of strangers—faceless “others” who we may never meet.
Jesus says, “If you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” (Mt 5:46) And “when you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you” (Lk 14:12-13).
Every day, hundreds of men, women, and children come to St. Vincent de Paul for help with basic needs such as food, clothing, furniture, and shelter. And we answer that call. We put addressing those needs at the very forefront of our mission.
Please consider helping us in that mission part of your plans this Lent: Give Hope