My last article was the beginning of a brief series on how young Catholics (myself included) can answer Pope Francis’ call to be a force for Christ and his Church.
Now, I’d like to discuss the next step. As I mentioned last time, we can’t stay in the parish forever. In order to continue moving forward, we have to step outside of the Church, into the streets and start living the Gospel. This is where we start getting our hands dirty.
Christ didn’t give us the works of mercy so that we could just talk about them in church. He meant for us to live them and use them.
It doesn’t matter if you live in Small Town, Alabama (like me) or Big City, USA, poverty, homelessness, disease, hunger, abortion, addiction, and violence are everywhere. It all exists as the end result of the “throwaway” culture that Pope Francis speaks of so often. Yet, so many of these issues are looked over because the rest of us are too distracted by status, material possessions, fear, or apathy—all of which are some of the Devil’s greatest weapons.
In my last blog I said the Pope wants a revolution from us, and in order for there to be one we have to step out of the Parish and into the secular world. We have to face a society that worships the flesh over God.
We have to revolt against evil, against the culture of death, against greed, against fear, against privilege, against status, and against social norms. We have to get out of our comfort zones and “make a mess” by doing exactly what Christ instructed us to do: feed the hungry, clothe the naked, harbor the haborless, comfort the afflicted, forgive offenses, counsel the doubtful, instruct the ignorant, and pray for the living and the dead.
Look into your community. Does it have a charity? A homeless shelter? A crisis pregnancy center? If it does, go get involved. Don’t just donate money or give away some of your old clothes and be satisfied. Volunteer. If there isn’t anything like that in your area, see what you can do to get something started. Go to those in need and show them Christ’s love through works of mercy.
Dorothy Day, who is one of my personal heroes and was a major influence in my conversion, is a great example of someone we can look to for inspiration. Day, along with Peter Maurin, established the Catholic Worker Movement, which aimed to “live in accordance with the justice and charity of Jesus Christ” and spawned Catholic Worker Homes for the poor and afflicted.
The Catholic Worker beliefs involved: daily practices of mercy, providing House of Hospitality for immediate relief of those in need, and personal obligation of looking after the needs of others.
We should aspire to be like the Catholic Workers in answering Pope Francis’ calling. We need to rise above a society that prefers talk over action and go directly do those in need.
By taking to the streets, and helping those in need, we will find joy and fulfillment that is incomparable to anything else. However we will also bear witness to some of the darker sides of life. Charity and works of mercy are good, but they aren’t always enough. Because of this, we have an obligation to take it a step further, which I will discuss in my next post and the final part of this series.