Christ has a way of getting us to listen. I’ve been struggling to fully obey the Second Commandment, loving your neighbor as yourself. In fact, I blogged about it yesterday morning. Shortly thereafter, my husband and I and our two sons headed to Mass at St. Peter the Apostle Parish in New Brunswick, NJ, where both our boys had been baptized. We arrived early and as I lingered in the foyer, I noticed some brochures set up on a table. It seemed there would be a guest preacher at this Mass.
During Mass, the guest preacher, Father Tom Singer O.M.I , read from the Gospel the Canticle of Mary from the Book of Luke. And then he did something remarkable, something I never had seen a priest do. He raised the Lectionary high in one hand and proclaimed “THIS is the Gospel of the Lord.” By then, I was eager to hear what he had come to share.
He began by talking about the Our Lady, given that yesterday was the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This dogma teaches us that when Mary died, her body and soul were assumed into heavenly glory. This means that Mary is fully human in heaven, just like her son Jesus.
What, Father Tom asked, does this have to do with us? He explained that the fact of Mary’s Assumption means that the more human we are, the more holy we are. God did not design us to avert our gaze from others. He designed us to love others, even in their poverty and their despair. Father Tom has been a priest for more than half a century. He told us one of the most meaningful experience of his life was when his superiors sent him to do mission work in a Brazilian slum. He said that caused him to understand we all must be a voice for the poor and the hungry, “God’s favorites,” he called them, because otherwise no one will hear their voices.
Now in semi-retirement, Father Tom spends his days preaching for a lay Catholic organization called the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging. Neither Greg nor I had ever heard of it, but you can look it up. CFCA has a beautiful mission and the highest possible ratings from Charity Navigator and the American Institute for Philanthropy. Virtually all the funds it raises help people in need. Sponsoring an individual costs $30 a month.
One aspect of CFCA’s work in 24 developing countries that impresses me is that it offers sponsorships to the aging as well as to children and teens. This reflects the Catholic value of honoring life in all its stages and Catholic social justice teaching, articulated in the 1998 by the United States Catholic Bishops.
Dear readers: are any of you sponsors with CFCA? Do you have experiences with other Catholic groups of this kind? Close friends who are Evangelicals always have pictures on their refrigerator of children they sponsor through church missions. Until yesterday I was unaware of any Catholic group with such an outreach.
Based in Kansas City, Kan., CFCA was founded in 1981 by four siblings and a family friend. Perusing its website this afternoon I discovered one of those founders, Bob Hentzen, is walking 8,000 miles from his home in Guatemala to Chile. Right now, he’s in Ecuador. Check it out.
http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=9580485&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=1&color=&fullscreen=1&autoplay=0&loop=0Walk2gether: 12 countries, 16 months, 8,000 miles from CFCA on Vimeo.