Friday, September 13, 2013

CARING FOR THE POOR AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH'S FIRST PRIORITY

Pope Francis is about to revolutionize the Church for centuries to come by his emphasis on the poor and becoming a Church of the poor. This means opening closed convents for refugees here in Rome and elsewhere. It means doing what Mother Teresa of Calcutta did in her religious order and continues to do so.

No longer can the Church take a back seat to the Salvation Army. We are to be the Church Militant in our own right caring for the needs of the poor and being the Church of the poor.

I am happy to say that through the ministries of leadership of the Daughters of Charity in Macon, Ga, we are doing what the Holy Father wants the Church to do. We are caring for poor indigent families with small children and we are caring for the homeless during the day with a day shelter and triage center. The Daughters of Charity are involving the parish and others in the community in an interfaith way to reach out to the needs of the poorest of the poor in Macon, GA.

Here the confluence of liturgy, EF or Of is meant to help us to go after Mass and be followers of Christ. We are a liturgical people, but we don't make liturgy or ecclesiology or Vatican II or any Council our God or any period of Church history our God. We make God our God in Jesus Christ.

And thus, we show fidelity to Holy Mother Church and her Magisterium, the pope and bishops in union with him.

We accept as authoritative all Ordinary and Extraordinary Magisterium of the Church.

We honor the Most Blessed Virgin Mary and all the angels and saints.

We resist the devil and his temptations as the father of lies and prince of darkness.

This is traditional Catholicism that Pope Francis wants to put on steroids. Are you ready, EF and OF Mass communities? Or are you pleased just to debate the liturgy, the Council, the popes, ecclesiology and the like and make these gods instead of the true God?

40 comments:

rcg said...

I would be pleased to see the Church reopen convents and buildings to help the poor in Mexico and Central America, africa and asia. I would like to see clergy rail against the people in those countries that create the exodus of refugees. I am afraid that they are helping destroy the Christian countries economically and our ability to help the poor in a meaningful way. The centuries of change are likely to be the disappearance of Christian nations.

Anonymous 2 said...

Wow! That’s quite a post, Father.

I am reminded of Pope Benedict’s homily at Notre Dame in Paris on September 13, 2008, of which today is the fifth anniversary, warning against idols of all kinds. Here again is the link for those who are interested:

http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/homilies/2008/documents/hf_ben-xvi_hom_20080913_parigi-esplanade_en.html

John 12:8 said...

Father, with all due respect, aren't you (and the pope), doing the same thing you are accusing others of doing? You are making false gods out of "the poor", and worshipping it instead of the true God.

"Let he who is without sin cast the first stone"

"Take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."

Duncan Hines said...

This poses an interesting challenge when framed as you put it. However, I also hope that we do not become so obsessed with those materially impoverished that we neglect the devastating spiritual poverty that is even more rampant, and, dare I say, almost institutionalized by the current state of (or LACK of) discipline in the Church. We only have so many years on this earth. Our REAL poverty will be revealed when our lives end. I pray that this pope will care as much for our spiritual needs as his nonstop communications about the materially poor.

Duncan HInes said...

I should add that while it is wonderful that the pope is generous enough to permit empty convents to be used to assist the poor, the situation begs the question: Why are these convents empty in the first place? I suggest that it reflects the more dangerous spiritual poverty caused by the decline we have suffered in the postconciliar Church. Apparently, instead of stopping the bleeding, Pope Francis is simply going to use the corpses for organ donations.

Anonymous said...

First priority?

Every Catholic's first priority is to save his own soul.

Isn't it?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Poverty of course is material as well as spiritual. There are many, mnay poor people who are quite rich when it comes to belieiving in God and trusting that He will care for them.
Saving our soul, from the Catholic perspective means accepting the gift of salvation wrought through the death and resurrection of our Lord. Receiving this gift and thus in a sense, saving our soul, but also our body too, means embracing the gift of Faith that leads to good works. So for Catholics faith and good works are signs that we are trying to save our soul, our bodies and doing so not of our own Pelagian ways, but through trust in God who does the saving but demands our cooperation. Caring for the poor, materially and otherwise is saving one soul!

Gene said...

Ah, the mythic "poor." The number one tool of the left for destroying capitalism, free enterprise, and middle class values and morality. The "poor"...the number one means of income redistribution and social control for the Left...and the biggest political joke on the Church, who has fallen for it lock, stock, and barrel. The progressives use of the poor has absolutely nothing to do with the poor Jesus was talking about in the NT...
and while we are on it, who beside the Catholic Church has done more for the poor over the centuries? Who...tell me.

Pater Ignotus said...

"The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'"

The poor are not mythical, they are our responsibility. The poor are not tools of the anti-capitalist "Left," they are our brothers and sisters. The poor are not an "idol" but the presence of God in our communities.

We will be judged on how we have cared for the poor.

Henry said...

Anyone, however high or low in the Church, who claims that the first priority of the Church is to "care for the poor"--meaning. as this phrase does in contemporary discourse, the material poor--is simply setting up a brazen idol.

Caring for the spiritually poor, as Jesus admonished in the beatitude, means helping them to save their souls, not merely our own.

The material care without spiritual care, that many Church agencies are offering today, is merely false worship.

dave said...

I am very burned out on the whole "poor" message. For over 20 years, 80% of every homily I have heard at the church I attend has been about the poor. That's why I love Pope Benedict so much, and feel he was such a breath of fresh air. We sort of moved away a little from the constant bombardment of the poor, and we got to see more of the beauty and sacredness, and artistic side of the Church. With Francis, its back to business as usual, with worshiping the poor.

The way I see it, saving your own soul is the primary reason for religion. Attend Mass, receive communion, go to confession when you fall. Everything else, including helping the poor, is secondary. By making the poor primary, it is turning it into a false god to be worshiped. Sorry, but I don't worship at the altar of pauperism. I worship at the Catholic Altar of Jesus Christ.

Marc said...

There's a difference between the mythic poor and actual individual poor people. The more one looks at them as some homogenous mass, the less equipped one is to actually help them. The Leftist idea is to view them as a mass of people to be used as a political tool. The Christian ideal is to confront and help them individually.

Anonymous 12 o'clock said...

No one is denying the existence of poverty. No one wants to deny aid to the poor. However, many of us have false guilt fatigue from the modernistic cabal of Churchmen who say nothing about abortion, nothing about militant homosexuality, nothing about contraception, but cannot shut up about our obligations to the poor.

For the record, the very first "social justice" Churchman was one of the apostles. It was Judas who complained that the lavish perfume poured on Jesus' feet could have been sold to feed the poor.

Kinda reminds you of our current crop of liturgists and professional Catholics who insist we must build bland-looking churches because every spare cent must be spent on the poor.

Pope Francis has the charism of not teaching heresy ex-cathedra. I trust in Jesus' promise that the gates of Hell will not prevail against his Church. For the present, however, it increasingly starting to look as though Francis is God's instrument of punishment upon the Church. We must continue to pray for him and our Church.

George said...

It should be noted that the Holy Father is asking that the Church(through it's members and available properties) to take care of the poor and not the government or NGO's.
I read somewhere once that Mother Teresa was once offered government help and turned it down.
We are seeing the problem that can occur with government involvement in the US
and similar situations in other countries because such aid comes with strings attached.

I know the Church is limited in what it can do but we should do as much as we can
and put some limit on what government is doing (which in some ways has done more harm than good).

I concur that spiritual poverty in the U.S., Europe and Canada is a far worse problem than material poverty. In some other countries of the world the opposite is true.

truth said...

This is nothing new. Since Vatican II, and a little before, there have been powers devoted to changing the Church from a traditional religion of faith, prayer, and spirituality, into a "new religion" of social justice, humanism, and free-sexuality. It appears Francis, with his obsession of "the poor" (whatever that phrase really means) may be a puppet of these powers.

Pater Ignotus said...

Anon 12 - The first "Social Justice" Churchman was Jesus who said, "You give them something to eat."

Or "The young man said to Him, "All these commands I have kept; what am I still lacking?" Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."

Or "When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your kinsmen or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just."

I think Jesus precedes Judas in his concern for social justice. And Pope Francis is stirring things up by reminding us just how far from the mark we are in this.

Anonymous 2 said...

Anything can become an idol and false god – anything – including the poor, both the material poor and the spiritual poor. The key to avoiding the idolatry is to see the object of one’s concern in proper relation to God. Whether the poor are viewed as individual poor or as a group does not seem to be the key. At the risk of breaking my nose again (Gene will explain this to puzzled readers), isn’t the key in the passage quoted by Pater?:"The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'"

I am not saying that it is an accurate perception, but all this carping about Pope Francis’s emphasis upon the poor could very easily be perceived by unfriendly readers/visitors of this Blog as the kind of hard-hearted lack of compassion with which certain elements of the political Right are often charged. Such a perception would be unfortunate and does the traditionalist cause little good.

Anonymous said...

Good grief, I see ponytails again, please please please boys only, girls and women have no place at the Holy Altar. This does not promote vocations boys want to serve with other boys, not giggling girls.

Gene said...

Ignotus, once again you reveal that you know little or nothing about Biblical theology, particularly NT theology. You don't know much about "social justice," either. You are really such a tool.

Anonymous said...

"[S]aving your soul is the primary reason for religion." No. The primary reason for religion is to give to God the worship that is His due.
- AncilPayne

George said...

The corporal works of mercy:

•To feed the hungry;
•To give drink to the thirsty;
•To clothe the naked;
•To harbour the harbourless;
•To visit the sick;
•To ransom the captive;
•To bury the dead.

Other than aiding the homeless (which of course should be done), the first 4 of these have been taken over almost totally by the government(I speak of here in the U.S.). Now I do realize the problem of poverty is too large of a challenge to be handled by Churches alone.
The thing is, the poor in this country receive government help to such an extent that all the necessities are provided.
If you want to do the first four,you end up having to contribute to those organizations working im countries outside the US where there does exist dire, abject poverty. If there are those doing without in this country, they are not availing themselves of the help that is available and that's
in addition to the Salvation Army, St Vincent DePaul, Goodwill and other such organizations.



What the poor have in America:

http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/terence-p-jeffrey/census-americans-poverty-typically-have-cell-phones-computers-tvs

Spiritual Poverty? Yes, that is a much bigger problem

Gene said...

Anonymous, We cannot give God the worship that is his due unless we know Him and believe in Him. Belief is primary and prior to worship. We worship Him and give Him the praise that is His due because He has redeemed us and promised us eternal life if we obey and worship Him properly. "I have come to seek and to save those who are lost."

Jacob said...

What I am confused about is, what is the definition of this phrase being used by the pope, "the poor"?

When I read his statements, I automatically assume by "the poor", he is referring to the poor in spirit, that is, those with no faith, weak faith, incomplete faith (protestants and jews), or incorrect faith (pagan religions like buddism, hinduism, scientology, etc)

But it seems most other people assume he means poor in wealth/material goods, that is those in poverty and the starving.

But he could also mean poor in health, the sick and dying.

Or the socially poor, the lonely, the shy, those without friends, those being bullied.

Or the follically poor, the bald.

Or the vertically poor, midgets and dwarfs.

See, that's the problem with Francis, he uses sweeping, general phrases, but never explains them. Does he mean one of the above, all of the above, none of the above? He is truely a student of Vatican II in that regard. Until he specifically clairfies, I will assume whenever he speaks of "the poor", he is referring to the poor in spirit, since he is a religious leader and the Church's first priority is saving souls (sorry to disagree with you, Father). And to the majority of those who assume he means the poor in wealth/material goods...well, I'll just sit back with some popcorn and enjoy the show.

Gene said...

The question progressives refuse to answer: "Is it better for one to die poor and hungry but saved, or is it better for one to die well fed and with money in his pocket but
unsaved? Libs want to answer "both and," but that is not the question. So, which is more important...eternal life or social welfare programs? Preaching the Gospel of repentance and salvation, or working in a soup kitchen?
Hearing Confessions and taking Communion to the sick and in prison, or working down at Have A Crap For Humanity? This is a forced answer test.

Pater Ignotus said...

Pin/Gene - The question you ask contains a false dichotomy. It is similar to "Have you stopped beating your wife?" or "Can God make a boulder so large that He cannot lift it?"

Your questions is based on the erroneous premise that one must die EITHER "hungry but saved" OR "well fed but unsaved."

The answer, which you think you can avoid, is "both and" indeed.

Amonymous 2 said...

So, why not make it the question, Gene? As in:

“Is it better for one to die well fed and with money in his pocket AND saved, or is it better for one to die poor and hungry but saved?”

BTW I think you are wrong to imply that only progressives/liberals prefer the first alternative. Thus, I imagine you hope to answer that description yourself?

Gene said...

Are you two people really that incapable of understanding the theological issue of priorities? Also, can you simply not read. I said that "both/and" is not an option. This is a theological issue. My point is that, theologically, belief is primary and the logically necessary and sufficient cause for worship and giving God the praise that is his due. Biblically, the salvation of souls is the primary purpose for Christ's Incarnation.
Belief in Him is the necessary cause for salvation. It is the theological premise for everything else. Now, see, that was't too hard.
And, no, the question is in no way similar to "can God make a stone so heavy He can't lift it." That is a logical contradiction and it is meaningless to posit logical contradictions as a part of the nature of God.
It is not a logical contradiction to ask whether belief or works are PRIMARY for salvation.

Pater Ignotus said...

CCC 2055: When someone asks him, "Which commandment in the Law is the greatest?" Jesus replies: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets." The Decalogue must be interpreted in light of this twofold yet single commandment of love, the fullness of the Law."

Single, yet twofold commandment. Love of God and Love of others.

Both/And is the implementation of the words of Jesus and the teaching of the Church. It is, despite your opposition, the answer to the question you pose.

Gene said...

Two commandments...one...two. The first, and primary, is belief...you can only love God with all your heart if you believe in Him.
The second, and distinct, commandment of Christ in this verse is to "love your neighbor as yourself." There is a theological order here, Ignotus.
One cannot love one's neighbor properly without belief in God and the understanding of self and neighbor that derives from that understanding.
Belief is theologically primary because it guards against the progressivist schemes based upon humanistic principles that reverse the order and place human effort above belief and repentance. Indeed, they bypass belief altogether because it isn't necessary for the "Jesus ethics" crowd. All you gotta' do is be nice and try to act like you think Jesus would all the time...you know, take a black person to lunch, march in some silly peace mob, count dolphins, eat tofu, vote for Obammy. You know, like that.

Anonymous 2 said...

Gene: I think we can all understand the theological issues of priorities. Your point was obscure. You did not clearly ask whether belief or works are primary. It is elementary that belief is primary and that works flow from belief. So, yes, eternal life is more important than social welfare programs. But of course this is not inconsistent with having both belief AND works, eternal life AND social welfare programs/soup kitchens, which is the option you apparently refused to admit. It was that apparent refusal that we were challenging.

Gene said...

Where did I refuse to admit it? Because one thing is primary does not mean another is excluded. Christian works go without saying, but they are fruits of belief and salvation and are not causative of salvation.

Pater Ignotus said...

CCC 2055 "The Decalogue must be interpreted in light of this twofold yet single commandment of love, the fullness of the Law."

This is not two commandments, but one. Its unity reflects the mystery of the Incarnation - Jesus was not two persons, but one.

One part of the commandment is not "distinct" from the other.

Anonymous 2 said...

Gene: You said "Libs want to answer both and but that is not the question." That is where you apparently refused to admit it. I challenged that and suggested it wasn't just "Libs" who would urge both/and.

Gene said...

CCC 2055 is not addressing the same issue I was discussing. I have said all I have to say on the issue. If you are too dense to comprehend it, too bad.

George said...

All the comments here could definitely precipitate much further Theological reflection.

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law ...

The two commandments above are linked but there is no equivalency between the two. As Jesus said about the first-it is the greatest.

And yet one flows from the other...

It is interesting that Jesus did not say "You should likwise (or in a like manner) love your neighbor".


I think about the line from the Act of Contrition
"but most of all because I have offended Thee, O Lord, Who are all good and deserving of ALL my love

Love your neighbor as yourself? Be solicitous to your impoverished neighbors needs as you are to your own needs.
Pray for your neighbors above all. Yes.

"He causes his prayers to be of more avail to himself, who offers them also for others."
-St Gregory the Great

St Germaine de Pribac's life was meagerness itself.

Her favorite prayer was: "Dear God, please don't let me be too hungry or too thirsty. Help me to please my mother. And help me to please you." (She suffered great abuse at the hands of her mother)

As it has been written about her:

She shared all she had in love and charity. What little food she had more often than not were given to those less fortunate than her. Her clothing, thin and unsuitable for the cold winters, could be found on the shoulders of those she encountered, she, herself, preferring to go cold than watch another suffer.

Serving the poor is woven throughout the lives of many of the saints.

Yet this was not something to be noted in and of itself but flowed from their profound devotion to God.

Today, it is is spiritual poverty, not material poverty which constitutes the greatest need



Pater Ignotus said...

The Two Commandments are not separate commandments or separate ideas that are "linked." They are a "twofold yet single commandment of love."

Gene said...

"Which commandment is the first of all?"
Mark 12:29-31: "Jesus answered, "The first is, 'Hear, O Israel, The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,and with all your soul , and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these.
Note the emphasis upon the first and the clear distinction between the two separate commandments.

Need to work on that reading comprehension Ignotus...also on the theology a bit, as well.

George said...

Here is another perpective.
Take all of the American Saints and blesseds. They were for the most part engaged in teaching and catechizing. That was their primary mission. Other than the ones who were contmplatives or mystics. Condider that they were operating in times where there was little assistance for the poor. St Elizabeth Seton, St Katherine Drexel.Mother Cabrini(not American born though), the North American Martyrs, and I could go on. Not that
they did not try in some way to provide for the bodily needs of the poor also.
This is still true today with the religious congregations that are thriving such as the Dominican sisters in Michigan and Nashville.
The other orders that are thriving are the Contemplatives.
The orders that are and were most focused on social needs are for the most part the ones dying off.
Africa also makes a good case in point where many of the people over there have almost nothing compared to those over here but where the Catholic faith is thriving.

Pater Ignotus said...

Pin/Gene - As any Catholic knows, the Church teaches the meaning of the Scriptures.

In this regard, the Church teaches "CCC 2055: When someone asks him, "Which commandment in the Law is the greatest?" Jesus replies: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets." The Decalogue must be interpreted in light of this twofold yet single commandment of love, the fullness of the Law."

Whatever your purposes, your distinction between the two parts of the "single commandment of love" is contrary to the Church's understanding.

As always, I stand with the Church.

George said...

If I love my neighbor and am serving my neighbor, then I am also loving and serving God.

I don't hold the position that if I am loving and serving my neighbor then I am adoring and worshiping God. God can only be adored and worshiped as the direct object of my worship and adoration.

On these TWO commandments hang all the Law and the prophets. Two not ONE. Not even TWOFOLD.

One can take the position "single commandment of love" in the wrong way. That is, I'm doing the second part, therefore that completely satisfies the first part. How many in our own time take it this way
his way.

One position I do hold though is that if anything I say do or write is in opposition to Church teaching
then let it be as nothing...let it be as less than nothing.