June 3, 2011

Faith, Hope and Charity / David Siler

Disasters are times to demonstrate our faith

David SilerIt is hard to tell if there are more violent and destructive natural disasters these days or, because of very sophisticated communication, we just are more aware of them.

Just during the past few weeks, we have witnessed widespread flooding in Indiana, multiple tornadoes in the Southeast, including in and around Alabama, and killer tornadoes striking Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kansas.

Of course, there are the more dramatic cases over the past few years with the tsunami in Sri Lanka, Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, an earthquake in Haiti, and the earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan—just to name a few of the most severe disasters.

What is going on with the world? Ask 100 people, and you will likely get at least 100 theories.

Not being a prognosticator, a prophet or a theologian, but rather a minister of the Church called to activate others to the social mission of the Church, I look at these tragedies as opportunities to demonstrate the love of God to the world.

At times when homes are devastated, whole towns are wiped out and people die in small or large numbers, the need for a God of compassion and care is profound. And God responds just like God always does—through us, the faithful.

Nearly every Catholic Mass ends with this phrase, “Go forth in peace to love and serve the Lord” or some variation of those words. The entire purpose of our gathering for liturgy and Eucharist culminates in this call to love and serve.

We are formed, fed and nourished in order to go forth into the world to make known the message that God is among us and seeks fellowship with us. As Catholics, we do this first and foremost by putting our faith into action.

Hurricane Katrina presented an opportunity that thrust Catholic Charities in the United States to become much more actively engaged in disaster relief. And since that experience, many more parts of the country have prepared themselves to respond—the Archdiocese of Indianapolis included. We are doing this for many good reasons, and among the very best is what was often said by people in Martinsville, following the floods of 2008. “If it weren’t for the Catholics here, I don’t know that anything would have gotten done.” This is how we Catholics evangelize in the world.

Catholic Charities is the organization that activates the Church to serve within the United States, and Catholic Relief Services is the U.S. Church ministering outside the U.S.

Jane Crady is currently working for our archdiocese preparing parishes and parishioners to provide disaster relief in their own communities as well as forming a network of people ready to activate for service anywhere in our archdiocese—and outside as well, for that matter.

If you would like to help with the most recent round of disaster relief efforts by your financial donations or time and skills, visit our website at www.archindy.org/cc/disaster.

God and God’s people can certainly use your help.

(David Siler is the executive director of the archdiocesan Secretariat for Catholic Charities and Family Ministries. E-mail him at dsiler@archindy.org.)

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