Father Mark’s Pastoral Direction

Charity and Dignity

We may feel some sympathy with the Jews struggling to cope with 613 laws and wondering which were the important ones. But have we ever felt overwhelmed by the rules and regulations of our own tradition? And have we ever been blessed by meeting someone, or reading something, that was able to cut through all the layers and point out to us what is essential in life? Who was that person? What did they say or do? Is there some phrase or text that encapsulates such wisdom for us?

If we were asked what is most important in life, what would our answer be? Let us recall
the experiences and relationships we have had. Which are the ones that we treasure most? What has particularly enriched our lives? How would we encourage another person who asked us how s/he could live a full life?

Prayer of Pope Francis to Mary, Mother of Silence

Mother of silence, who watches over the mystery of God,
Save us from the idolatry of the present time, to which those who forget are condemned.
Purify the eyes of Pastors with the eye-wash of memory:
Take us back to the freshness of the origins, for a prayerful, penitent Church.
Mother of the beauty that blossoms from faithfulness to daily work,
Lift us from the torpor of laziness, pettiness, and defeatism.
Clothe Pastors in the compassion that unifies, that makes whole;
Let us discover the joy of a humble, brotherly, serving Church.
Mother of tenderness who envelops us in patience and mercy,
Help us burn away the sadness, impatience and rigidity of those who do not know what it means to belong. Intercede with your Son to obtain that our hands, our feet, our hearts be agile:
let us build the Church with the truth of love.
Mother, we shall be the People of God, pilgrims bound for the Kingdom.

Recently, I read an article encouraging people to be thoughtful and generous to the needy in the upcoming holiday season. ‘Do not give broken cups to broken people’ resonated from the article and has stayed with me ever since.

As acts of charity many people are often inclined to give or donate old items that they no longer have use for. Within this there is a sincere act of generosity and perhaps a desire of not letting anything go to waste. However, there is a challenge here to consider the recipient’s feelings on being handed worn out clothes, almost out of date food or damaged toys. How, perhaps, is this impacting on their feeling of worth in society today? Are they not worthy of some new clothes to regain their sense of pride? Some fresh and tasty food to nourish their bodies? Some new, clean toys, the same as other children their age?

These are superficial examples but point towards a challenge to society to provide services of the highest standards to vulnerable people. History and even recent news stories from both home and abroad have presented infuriating examples time and again. Good intentions need to be coupled with thoughtfulness and a determination to give only the best to our neighbor most in need, to show them that they are respected and loved.

The mark of a committed disciple is one who is….

Strong enough to be weak Successful enough to fail
Wise enough to say: “I don’t know” Serious enough to laugh
Rich enough to be poor Right enough to say: “I’m wrong”
Mature enough to be childlike Planned enough to be spontaneous
Controlled enough to be flexible Free enough to endure captivity
Knowledgeable enough to ask questions Loving enough to be angry
Great enough to be anonymous Responsible enough to play
Assured enough to be rejected Stable enough to cry
Victorious enough to lose