At a time of dramatic global changes and challenges, Catholics in the United States face special responsibilities and opportunities. We are members of a universal Church that transcends national boundaries and calls us to live in solidarity and justice with the peoples of the world. We are also citizens of a powerful democracy with enormous influence beyond our borders. As Catholics and Americans we are uniquely called to global solidarity…..
Solidarity is action on behalf of the one human family, calling us to help overcome the divisions in our world. Solidarity binds the rich to the poor. … It calls those who are strong to care for those who are weak and vulnerable across the spectrum of human life. It opens homes and hearts to those in flight from terror and to migrants whose daily toil supports affluent lifestyles. ….
Catholic communities of faith should measure their prayer, education, and action by how they serve the life, dignity, and rights of the human person at home and abroad. A parish’s “catholicity” is illustrated in its willingness to go beyond its own boundaries to extend the Gospel, serve those in need, and work for global justice and peace. This is not a work for a few agencies or one parish committee, but for every believer and every local community of faith. This solidarity is expressed in our prayer and stewardship, how we form our children and invest our resources, and the choices we make at work and in the public arena. ……
Through the eyes of faith, the starving child, the believer in jail, and the woman without clean water or health care are not issues, but Jesus in disguise. The human and moral costs of the arms trade, international debt, environmental neglect, and ethnic violence are not abstractions, but tests of our faith. Violence in the Holy Land, tribal combat in Africa, religious persecution, and starvation around the world are not just headlines, but a call to action. As Catholics, we are called to renew the earth, not escape its challenge.
(Excerpts from the US Catholic Bishops, Global Solidarity: International Challenges for the US Parishes, 1997)
Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta
(Excerpts from the homily for the canonization of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta by Pope Francis, Sept 2016)
God is pleased by every act of mercy, because in the brother or sister that we assist, we recognize the face of God which no one can see (cf. Jn 1:18). Each time we bend down to the needs of our brothers and sisters, we give Jesus something to eat and drink; we clothe, we help, and we visit the Son of God (cf. Mt 25:40). In a word, we touch the flesh of Christ. We are thus called to translate into concrete acts that which we invoke in prayer and profess in faith. There is no alternative to charity: those who put themselves at the service of others, even when they don’t know it, are those who love God (cf. 1 Jn 3:16-18; Jas 2:14-18). The Christian life, however, is not merely extending a hand in times of need. If it is just this, it can be, certainly, a lovely expression of human solidarity which offers immediate benefits, but it is sterile because it lacks roots. The task which the Lord gives us, on the contrary, is the vocation to charity in which each of Christ’s disciples puts his or her entire life at his service, so to grow each day in love…….
Following Jesus is a serious task, and, at the same time, one filled with joy; it takes a certain daring and courage to recognize the divine Master in the poorest of the poor and those who are cast aside, and to give oneself in their service. In order to do so, volunteers, who out of love of Jesus serve the poor and the needy, do not expect any thanks or recompense; rather they renounce all this because they have discovered true love. ……
Mother Teresa, in all aspects of her life, was a generous dispenser of divine mercy, making herself available for everyone through her welcome and defense of human life, those unborn and those abandoned and discarded. She was committed to defending life, ceaselessly proclaiming that “the unborn are the weakest, the smallest, the most vulnerable”. She bowed down before those who were spent, left to die on the side of the road, seeing in them their God-given dignity; she made her voice heard before the powers of this world, so that they might recognize their guilt for the crime – the crimes! – of poverty they created. For Mother Teresa, mercy was the “salt” which gave flavor to her work, it was the “light” which shone in the darkness of the many who no longer had tears to shed for their poverty and suffering. Her mission to the urban and existential peripheries remains for us today an eloquent witness to God’s closeness to the poorest of the poor.….
We need to strengthen the conviction that we are one single human family. (Pope Francis, 2015, Laudato Si’, # 52)
The Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy
(Excerpts from Pope Francis’ General Audience, October 12, 2016)
[The corporal and spiritual works of mercy represent] a concrete way of living out mercy. Over the course of centuries, many simple people have put this into practice, giving their sincere witness of faith. The Church, after all, faithful to her Lord, nourishes a preferential love for the weakest. Often it is the people closest to us who need our help. We should not go out in search of some unknown business to accomplish. It is better to begin with the simplest, which the Lord tells us is the most urgent. In a world which, unfortunately, has been damaged by the virus of indifference, the works of mercy are the best antidote. In fact, they educate us to be attentive to the most basic needs of “the least of these my brethren” (Mt 25:40), in whom Jesus is present. Jesus is always present there. Where there is need, there is someone who has need, be it material or spiritual. Jesus is there. Recognizing his face in those who are in need is one way to really confront indifference. He allows us to be always vigilant, and avoid having Christ pass by without us recognizing him…..[B]ecause we are often distracted, indifferent, and when the Lord closely passes us by, we lose the opportunity to encounter him. The works of mercy reawaken in us the need, and the ability, to make the faith alive and active with charity.
I am convinced that, through these simple, daily actions, we can achieve a true cultural revolution, like there was in the past. If every one of us, every day, does one of these, this will be a revolution in the world! Everyone, each and every one of us. How many Saints are remembered even today, not for the great works which they accomplished, but for the charity which they knew how to impart! We think of the recently canonized Mother Teresa: we do not remember her because of the many houses she opened in the world, but because she stooped down to every person she found in the middle of the street in order to restore their dignity. How many abandoned children did she embrace in her arms; how many moribund people has she accompanied to eternity, holding their hands! These works of mercy are the features of the face of Jesus Christ, who takes care of his littlest brethren in order to bring the tenderness and closeness of God to each of them. May the Holy Spirit help us; may the Holy Spirit kindle within us the desire to live this way of life: at least once a day, at least! Let us again learn the corporal and spiritual works of mercy by heart, and ask the Lord to help us put them into practice every day, and in those moments where we see Jesus in a person who is in need.
Corporal Works of Mercy
- To feed the hungry.
- To give water to the thirsty.
- To clothe the naked.
- To shelter the homeless.
- To visit the sick.
- To visit the imprisoned.
- To bury the dead.
Spiritual Works of Mercy
- To instruct the ignorant.
- To counsel the doubtful.
- To admonish sinners.
- To bear wrongs patiently
- To forgive the sinners.
- To comfort the sorrowing.
- To pray for the living and the dead.
If you want to find God, seek him in humility, seek him in poverty, seek him where he is hidden: in the neediest, in the sick, in the hungry, in the imprisoned. (Pope Francis, 2015)
What Can You Do
Stay informed of the domestic and world news;
Learn about social justice issues, Catholic Social Teaching, and Church documents by visiting www.usccb.org/sdwp, www.confrontglobalpoverty.org, www.faithfulcitizenship.org, www.crs.org/globalpoverty, and www.globalissues.org;
Get Involved in service in the community and beyond (www.aggiecatholic/serve);
Donate money to the Social Outreach Collections, the Poor Box for the St. Vincent de Paul Society, and the special collections for national and international causes;
Donate items to the different drives St. Mary’s has around the year, including the Christmas Giving Tree;
Pray and meditate on solidarity;
The State of Texas has put seven people to death in 2016; nine individuals have received stays and two were removed from death row. This is the lowest number of executions in Texas since 1996. There have been 17 executions nationwide, including seven in Georgia. New death sentences also remained at a record-low level this year, with juries imposing three new death sentences and rejecting the ultimate punishment in a fourth trial.