A personal note about a bright spot in today’s onslaught of spin and viciousness regarding Catholics and our role in American life: Today the generosity of the Catholics of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati took the annual Catholic Ministries Appeal, still underway, to its $4 million goal. It’s a personal note (and a disclaimer of sorts) because I am blessed to be an occasional part of the team that promotes the Appeal in our archdiocese, but the important part is that bright spot: the light of God’s grace working through the six shared ministries the CMA supports.
Year in, year out, no matter what the headlines or the politics, the Catholic Ministries Appeal helps thousands of people of all faith backgrounds (or none at all–we don’t ask) in 19 counties put food on the family table, find jobs, turn crisis pregnancies into new lives, adopt and foster children, settle into freedom after fleeing war and oppression, have their hands held and their spirits healed as they face surgery or pace an ER waiting room, find God and community on college campuses, communicate with their children and grandchildren who had been locked into silence by hearing and speech disorders, know that they are not forgotten in prison. Catholics hear and answer the call to priesthood, the diaconate, and lay ministry. Beyond the costs of promoting the Appeal, every dollar goes to support the six identified ministries.
The Catholics of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati are unfailingly generous, but this is the first year in a long stretch that the Appeal has reached its goal. This year, when according to the mainstream media Catholics are frightened, insular, hate-filled, cowed robots duped by medieval bureaucrats bent on enslaving women and turning all men into fat-cat Republicans, folks here don’t seem to be buying the spin. They’re too busy loving one another, and putting their money where their faith is to widen that embrace in a time when too many of our sisters and brothers are living on the edge. Because that’s what Catholics do in real life.
In his motu proprio announcing the upcoming Year of Faith, Pope Benedict XVI put it this way:
Through faith, we can recognize the face of the risen Lord in those who ask for our love. “As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40). These words are a warning that must not be forgotten and a perennial invitation to return the love by which he takes care of us. It is faith that enables us to recognize Christ and it is his love that impels us to assist him whenever he becomes our neighbour along the journey of life. Supported by faith, let us look with hope at our commitment in the world, as we await “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet 3:13; cf. Rev 21:1).
Haters gotta hate, I guess. But tonight I give thanks to and for the loving hearts and generous faith of the folks whose pew I have never been happier to return to and share. GOOOOOOOAAL!!!