Monthly Archives: August 2014

Father Keith Garvin: My New Life as a Priest

by Fr. Keith Garvin, Parochial Vicar, Jesus the Good Shepherd Parish

I have been asked to write about my first 30 days in a parish as a newly ordained priest.  My first thought was, well, do you remember the Looney Toons character call Taz? You know the one that spun around in circles moving, rarely stopping? There was a whirlwind of activity everywhere he went. That is kind of what it has been like, but 100 times better and a lot of fun!

It is hard to describe exactly what my first 30 days was like – it has been full of activity, ministry, prayer, meeting people, loads of fun and excitement. Each day brings new and exciting things. The greatest thing is being able to bring the Sacraments to the people of God – to break open God’s Holy Word! Each day is a humbling experience. It’s amazing that God would allow me the honor and the privledge to be one of His priests. God’s people are so AWESOME!

When I’m asked how I’m doing I often respond with, “I’m just wondering when I’m going to start working.” How great it is to be doing what you’re called to do, and living out what you’re called to do. The priesthood is not a job, it is not a way to make a living. It is a calling in which one orders his life, through God’s grace, to the Cross of Christ, dying to self and rising to be a servant for Christ to His children. I’m not called to work, I’m called to serve and this is now my life. I AM A PRIEST!

I have been told that I’m in the “honeymoon” phase of my priesthood; “I’m just excited about the newness of being a priest.” But this is not my first rodeo, as the saying goes. When one finally finds his true love and he gets to spend all of his time serving his true love, what could be better than that? When my bride’s children come to me with their hurts and pains, I want to hear them and bring them the healing words, “I absolve you from your sins.” I love bringing Christ to them, “Behold the Lamb of God…” I love taking Christ to his children when they are sick, spending time with them over a meal, giving a blessing, teaching, preparing and so much more.

I love my children! I love my life! I have found my true love!

Waters Leaves Behind Teaching Legacy

Norma Broussard Waters left behind a legendary teaching career to be with the Lord on July 24, 2014.  With her passing, a 33-year campaign of educating countless students at the Cathedral grade school comes to a close, leaving a hole in the hearts of many that will never be fully healed.  My four children ranging in age from 19 to 37 are part of her teaching legacy and each was profoundly affected by her leaving this world.

Not every teacher could handle seventh and eighth graders like Norma Waters, and she accomplished this feat with a sometimes shrill voice, a firm, boney grip and a capacity to help kids learn while earning their complete respect.  These are rare qualities in the classroom, but Mrs. Waters had them all and wielded them like the master teacher she was.

One of Norma’s greatest passions was teaching science to young people, something for which she was also exceptionally skilled. Simply examine the incredible Science Olympiad competition record of St. John Berchmans School and the proof of six national appearances in a row stands as testament to her teaching and organizational ability.  While battling cancer, she even attended the school’s last national Science Olympiad appearance in Orlando, FL because she was not going to miss out on her student’s continued success.

Her influence on young people and their families extended far beyond the classroom as my children, like so many others, always sought Norma out when they visited the school later in life.  They wanted to touch base with their beloved teacher, share some laughs and keep her informed of their lives and their accomplishments, maintaining what they considered to be a very important friendship.  Parents followed suit and felt the same type of affection for one so instrumental in the formation of their children and so understanding of the stresses involved in raising young teenagers.

Many consider teaching the greatest profession and Norma Waters certainly did much to maintain that reputation.  She may be replicated but she will never be duplicated because she was a one-of-a kind teaching dynamo, and hundreds of children and parents are blessed by her decades long presence among us.
If heaven has a classroom, Norma Waters is there with her iron stare, her iron will, and her incredible capacity to help people learn.  The good Lord is indeed lucky to have her with Him in the school of eternity.

by John Mark Willcox

Book Review: The Ear of the Heart: An Actress’ Journey from Hollywood to Holy Vows

The Ear of the Heart: An Actress’ Journey from Hollywood to Holy Vows
by Mother Dolores Heart, OSB & Richard DeNeut

As a young impressionable girl, my sister loved Elvis Presley. As an adult she marks the anniversary of his death without fail. Me? I was never a huge fan; I liked maybe three of his songs. Once in our teen years we took part in a missions conference being held in Memphis. Our two leaders were huge Elvis fans and we ended up outside the gates of Graceland, hoping for a glimpse of Elvis. On one such occasion I was tired and put my purse under my head and fell asleep on the grass while my sister and a friend ran toward the house before they were stopped by security. It is a story we love to tell to show the differences between our personalities. When asked to read a book for review I quickly chose this one in part because of my sister and her love for Elvis; also I caught the end of a documentary some time back about Mother Dolores and I thought it would also be a complimentary insight to the documentary.

Little did I know that this book was about so much more than rejection of fame and assimilation into relative obscurity. I mused as the book downloaded to my Kindle that it would be an interesting topic for discussion with my sister. I thought she would probably find it difficult to believe that a young beautiful actress would turn down co-starring with “the King” and find contentment in a monastery.

Wrong, wrong, wrong! About four chapters in I was completely hooked. Dolores Hart was real, she had problems, challenges and a less than stellar home life. I thought most people could easily relate there. She had faith even at a young age and she knew what she wanted: to be an actress. She worked toward that end and achieved much success. Part of the book chronicles this part of her journey in a most enjoyable narrative, almost as if one is hearing Dolores’ own voice while she “fills you in” on what is happening in her life. Throughout the narrative one thing is clear: Dolores was no Hollywood phony, she was a real person who had a love and compassion for many many people she met. Her pedigree is also interesting – her father was actor Bert Hicks and Mario Lanza was her uncle. Throughout the text she shows, with increasing strength, her Catholic faith.

I don’t often recommend books to people, but I can assure you that whether you like Elvis or not, whether you have heard of Dolores Hart or not, even whether you are Catholic or not, this is a read worth your time. I came away changed, challenged and feeling very happy to have made Dolores Hart’s acquaintance and to be privileged to hear the story of her journey from being an actress poised on the brink of stardom to her ascent to God’s plan for her as a cloistered nun and now abbess at Regina Laudis, the Benedictine monastery where she was continually drawn.

The book is readable, but more than that it left an impression on me of a woman who didn’t reject all her accomplishments in favor of an vague notion of “something better.” Rather it is the telling of her willingness to listen to God even when she wasn’t quite sure if it was God who was speaking.  Dolores Hart wrestled with God’s call in her life. She questioned, she struggled, she examined, and in the end she listened with the ear of the heart. May we all be so attuned to how and where we are called. I know as I prepare my Christmas list this book will be wrapped and under the tree for my little sister, and once she “meets” Dolores we will have lots to discuss.
I leave you with a quote from early in the book from St. Benedict himself: “sin is not so much doing something wrong; sin is not being true to who we are.”

This book is available at the Slattery Library inside the Catholic Center, or online at Amazon.com.

Navigating the Faith: Forgiveness

by Fr. Phil Michiels, Pastor, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish

From the Middle Ages comes this legend about a nun who claimed that she had had a vision of Christ.  The bishop asked, “Sister, did you talk to him?”  And she said, “Yes, I did.”  He continued, “If you have another vision, ask Christ this question: ‘What was the bishop’s great sin before he became a bishop?’”  He knew that only God and his own confessor would know.

About three months later, the nun made an appointment to see the bishop.  When she came in, he said, “Did you see our Lord again?”  “Yes,” she replied.  “Did you ask him the question about my sin?”  “Yes, I did.”  “And what did he say?”  She smiled and answered, “The Lord said, ‘I don’t remember any more.’”  (Stories and Parables for Preachers and Teachers, Paul J. Wharton)

Obviously this story is one of myth and only symbolic. How could God forget anything?  For me the point of the story is that God always acts toward the repentant sinner as if God forgets.  Such is the intensity of God’s mercy and compassion.  So much so that in Jesus, God died for the sake of mercy and compassion.  The Church celebrates this in a special way in the Sacrament of Penance.  The Church also celebrates God’s mercy and compassion at every Eucharist.  This happens as we call to memory in sacred ritual and sacrament the Real Presence of Jesus, who poured out his blood for the forgiveness of sins.  Having celebrated our reconciliation with God in the Mass through sharing Christ’s paschal mystery, we go out to a world waiting for the touch of Christ’s mercy and compassion.  Such is our call to be a person of forgiveness.

Personal experience tells us forgiveness hardly comes easy.  Sometimes we find it hard to not only forgive another person, but also to forgive ourselves.  The one thing that pulls me personally out of this dilemma is that if God always forgives, why not let God’s grace move me to forgive?

There are no magic answers.  You may find helpful the following information I stumbled on several years ago (Miller and Jackson, Practical Psychology for Pastors, Prentice Hall Publishers, Englewood NJ, 1985).  Often people fail to forgive because they confuse forgiveness with any of five other things, which it is not.  It can be useful to distinguish between forgiveness and these other processes.

First, forgiveness is not the same as AMNESIA.  Forgiving and forgetting are different acts.  Forgiveness does not require forgetting.  In fact, one can hardly forgive that which has already been forgotten!  Forgiveness is given in the face of remembering, and if anything it is forgiveness that enables forgetting.  Certainly forgetting is no prerequisite, nor does forgiveness require the promise to forget (which may be much more difficult).  However, forgiveness is the only cure for resentment, a negative attitude that continually pulls us down and causes one to be a miserable person to himself/herself and others.

Secondly, forgiveness is not ACQUITTAL.  Forgiveness does not mean that the person is found blameless and without responsibility.  To the contrary, forgiveness is only required when responsibility of the individual is recognized.  One need not deny responsibility in order to be forgiven, nor does forgiveness require later denial by either party.  Forgiveness is given in the face of responsibility.

Thirdly, forgiveness is not an AWARD.  It is not earned, or given to those more deserving.  Forgiveness is given freely, without regard for merit.

Fourthly, forgiveness is not APPROVAL.  To forgive an action is not to approve of that action or agree with it.  It does not require that the forgiving person say, “I think what you did was OK.”  In fact, forgiveness is needed only when one does not approve.  It is given in the face of disapproval.

Finally, forgiveness is not ACQUIESCENCE.  It is not a license to go and do as one pleases in the future.  It is not a moratorium on values, a suspension of rules.  It is not permission to stay the same, but rather in a very mysterious way, forgiveness itself inspires and enables change.  Forgiveness is given in the face of knowledge that the future may or may not be different, but also with the enabling hope that it will.

Forgiveness is none of the above.  Miller and Jackson point out that forgiveness is most definitely something else.  Forgiveness is an affirming acceptance of the person as distinguished from his or her actions.  This kind of unconditional love is the kind of love God gives when God forgives.  Forgiveness becomes the alternative to anger.  Better still, forgiveness is a response to anger.  I repeat, forgiveness is the alternative to holding on to one’s anger!

There is so much more to say about forgiveness and its power in our lives.  For sure, we need to start with the fact that the only cure for anger and revenge is forgiveness.  As Catholics, we believe we live up to our human potential with the help of God’s grace.  Through grace, may you always receive, and in turn give God’s gift of forgiveness!

Multicultural Rosary Event

St. Joseph Parish in Shreveport will host a Multicultural Rosary on Sunday, October 5th beginning at 2:00 p.m. to honor Mary.

Parishioner Kay Nadar said she was sitting in the back of church one day when the idea for the rosary came to her, and when their Parish Pastoral Council was looking for new ideas the rosary was the perfect fit. Kay started planning the event in April, and because October is the month of the rosary it was a natural choice to host the event then.

“I think so many people, when they pray, they pray in their own little corner,” said Kay. “There’s nothing wrong with that, I do that. But the rosary is a united form of prayer. When you unite, you have a sense of belonging in a circle of prayer.”

The five decades of the rosary will be prayed in French, Filipino, Italian, Spanish and Swahili with responses in English.

When asked why a multicultural rosary, as a opposed to a standard English one, Kay said, “We’ve got to strengthen our prayer in this country. There’s a lot of different people with a lot of different languages, and events like this are to help make a bigger circle, a larger circle of prayer.”

The rosary recitation will be infused with music from Catholics all over the Shreveport/Bossier area. “This isn’t going to be just a regular rosary, it’s going to be a celebration. Lots of music and a choir composed of parishioners from five different Catholic churches,” said Kay.

Catholic Charities will be there selling rosaries at the back of the church after the rosary and there will be a reception following the event.

For more information, please contact the parish office at 318-865-3581.

by Jessica Rinaudo, Editor

Catholic Food: Morning Offerings

We are well into the long stretch of our liturgical year known as Ordinary Time. We have been counting time in several ways: the weeks of ordinary time, the days until school begins, and recently I even saw a post reminding me there were 22 weekends until Christmas! Enough already! I can’t think of another saved date, another starred block on my calendar, another alert on my phone.

At this time of the year I think we also tend to get caught up in the back to school buzz and find ourselves flailing. I find I could use a steadying force for my body as well as my spirit. I think this time of our year is one of the many “beginnings” our various calendars bring us to. Even without school age children to care for, I am still affected by this time, even if it is just the extra early morning traffic.

My thoughts turn to two “staples” I have sadly cast aside: the Morning Offering and breakfast! The Morning Offering is an old fashioned childhood prayer many of us learned but lost the practice of as we entered the frenzied years of parenthood; it’s soothing phrases often replaced with frantic pleas to locate permission slips, shoes, car keys.

I must confess that since my own children have reached adulthood, breakfast is not the prime meal it once was at my house. More often than not I just make a cup of coffee. In recent years I admit to having all but forsaken the breakfast ritual, and I have paid a price for it: my metabolism, both spiritual and physical, don’t have the same  get up and go as in previous years. So I thought this was a good time to revisit these morning rituals. First I looked at the word itself, “breakfast,” break- fast which is what we are doing; breaking the fast period from supper to the morning meal. That can be food as well as the night prayers we utter as sleep takes over.

For my own sons there were standard dishes in my repertoire: toad in the hole, bacon, and, of course, oatmeal. The boys have grown up and I am no longer making breakfast for them, though we sometimes have “brinner” (breakfast for dinner), which is much more elaborate than anything I was putting on the table 20 years ago.
So as we return to a back to school schedule I am filled with nostalgia and a bit of an appetite for all things breakfast. Try the recipes below and take the time to pray, to make a Morning Offering, before you enjoy them.
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day in union with the holy sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of your sacred heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all the apostles of prayer, and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month.

Banana Hook Up

Ingredients:
• 2 bananas
• 1-2 tbsp butter
• 1/3 cup maple syrup

Directions:
1) Peel two bananas and slice them.
2) Melt 1 to 2 tablespoons butter in a small skillet. As the butter melts add the sliced bananas and cook for five minutes stirring so they don’t stick.
3) After bananas become soft add 1/3 cup of maple syrup (or your favorite) and heat through.
4) Serve on top of a bowl of steaming oatmeal.

Toad in a Hole

Ingredients:
• 1 slice of bread
• 1 egg
• butter

Directions:
1) Remove a circle from the center of the slice of bread.
2) Melt about 2 tablespoons butter in a small skillet.
3) Place bread in skillet and crack an egg in the center of bread slice. After a couple of minutes flip the bread and egg over so both sides can cook.
4) Serve with oatmeal topped with banana hook up.

Domestic Church: You Did it to Me

The pump was irritatingly slow; and for a mama with a rare hour to herself, I wasn’t excited about the time it was taking to fill my gas tank in the sweltering heat. I took the opportunity to clean out the van and, stepping away to toss my trash, I was approached. “‘Scuse me ma’am…” The young man couldn’t have been more than 15, rough in appearance, and his speech was difficult to understand.

I knew what was coming. I’ve been approached for money a thousand times – the requests always preceded by some story I’m hesitant to believe. Admittedly, my default reaction is defense coupled with suspicion. I don’t like being approached by strangers because it makes me feel vulnerable and I like to get out of those situations ASAP.
According to the boy’s story, he and his dad ran out of gas and were stranded down the street. Stuck without two pennies to rub together, he wondered if I could help them with gas. The car and the boy’s father were nowhere in sight, but I’m sure my skepticism was visible.

Like any good Christian, I expressed regret at his situation, “Oh I’m sorry,” I began, “I don’t have any cash on me.” It was true, though I had my check card and could have accommodated his need. Then, letting my suspicion get the best of me, I quizzed, “Where’s your gas can?” If they’re out of gas, I thought, they should have acquired a gas can. “Over there,” the boy gestured to a beat up can situated next to the station. Expressing regret again, I returned to my pump, still trickling fuel into my vehicle. The boy moved to a few other customers who turned him down without conversation.

Lost in thought, I recalled the horrors in the Middle East; Christians being crucified for being Christians – families facing death at the hands of others who disagree with their beliefs. Examining my conscience, I thought while so many are dying horrible deaths in the name of Christ, I could easily die to self for the same reason, and disregard my wants for the sake of another’s need. Life is immeasurably more difficult for countless others – why couldn’t I bend slightly to help another person? Jesus compelled his disciples, “Whatever you did to the least of my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40). What if it wasn’t a stranger, but Christ approaching me through this father and son?

My original uneasiness faded once I recognized that I was in a safe, populated area in the middle of the day; the chances of harm were slim to none and, gazing across the pavement, I saw the boy standing with his father on the phone. Taking my own turn to approach, I sheepishly pointed to the gas can, “Why don’t you let me fill that up?” The man smiled into the phone, “We’ll be all right. A lady’s about to help us!” A quick swipe of my card and a couple minutes of small talk later, the man gave me a grateful handshake. I looked at the can as he walked away – it was barely half full. He took what he needed with gratitude and zero advantage. I shook my head, embarrassed that I had hesitated to help.

You did it to me – five powerful Christian words that compel us to examine our motives and actions, to humble ourselves to realize that there are needs greater than our wants. Many Christians are suffering out of devotion to Christ to such extreme degrees that it should move us to serve each other. A few dollars or a lending hand are small sacrifices for those of us blessed to enjoy comfort and safety. Let’s take the time to step out of our comfort zones and answer Christ’s call to serve as he serves and love as he loves.

Katie Sciba is the author of thecatholicwife.net. She lives in Shreveport with her husband, Andrew, and three sons, Liam,Thomas & Peter.

Second Collections: A Reflection

This month we do not have a dedicated second  collection, which presents me with a unique opportunity to share with you my personal thoughts on the Church’s Second Collections. Our Lord Jesus revealed to his disciples they would not always have him, but the poor would be with them always. In this declaration, our Lord revealed that we are not in danger of losing or forgetting Him. We are assured that even though Jesus would be absent to us in his death, he would be present to us in his resurrection. Even in his physical absence we are not deprived of an opportunity of doing something personally for him.  Our Lord is spiritually and physically present to us in the people and lives of those who are poor and in need.

My parents passed this belief in the abiding presence of the Lord Jesus on to me, my 10 siblings and their grandchildren. As poor as we were, our parents taught us to 1) be grateful for what we had; and 2) remember that we were called by God to help those who are less fortunate than ourselves. When our Lord revealed “the poor you will have with you always,” He was not being melodramatic, defeated nor pessimistic.  The Lord Jesus has revealed to us an enduring opportunity to experience, love and serve him.

When Holy Mother Church presents these second or “special” collections to us, She is faithfully reminding us to: 1) be grateful for what we have; and 2) remember that we are called by God to help those who are less fortunate than ourselves. The Church does not assume we are all flushed with money and need something to do with it, but knows Her numerous children live the full range of financial reality from the lowest abject poverty to the highest abundant wealth. The Church, through the voice of her pope and his brother bishops, calls us to be grateful and helpful out of love for our Lord.

There is a song that is sung at Mass, often at the offertory or during the distribution of communion which says, “All that we have, and all that we offer, comes from a heart both frightened and free. Take what we bring now, and give what we need, all done in His name.”  That song expresses the full gamut of our poverty and our wealth, that we are grateful and giving.  It reveals that in our abject poverty, abundant wealth, and every place  in between, we have something to offer “for our good and the good of all God’s holy Church.”

The second collections the pope and bishops ask us to contribute to are our opportunity to show the Lord Jesus that we love him. We make our love for the Lord concrete when we minister to Him in the life and needs of His poor ones. If you want to do something “meaningful” for the Lord, then “feed my lambs, tend my sheep, feed my sheep. The poor you will have with you always.”  How difficult for them; but, what a salvific opportunity for us!  “Whatsoever you do for the least of My people, that you do unto Me.”

Fr. Rothell Price, Vicar General, is the Director of Special Collections.

Mike’s Meditations: Daily Resources

Picture yourself in the hot desert with about a million other people.  You look around the barren stretch of sand and realize there is neither vegetation nor animals to serve as food.  You are painfully aware of your growing hunger.   Beginning to pray, you spend more time complaining about your plight than believing God will provide.
Someone with great faith proclaims God has heard your grumbling and promises to give you quail to eat in the evening and bread to eat each morning.  Later you eat your fill of quail, and the next morning find the ground covered with wafer like bread.  Not only is it nourishing, you are secure knowing you will have enough each day.  You find yourself filled with joy and are awestruck by the power and unconditional love of God who is always taking care of you.

But, you fall into fear questioning whether this bread will daily continue to fall.  You disregard God’s command to only take enough for one day at a time and you gather some extra and hide it.  During the night, the bread you stored is filled with maggots and smells like death. Your fear has caused disorder and chaos and the rancid manna has become a problem.  (Exodus 16:1-36)

Jesus taught us to ask God to “… give us this day our daily bread …” (Matthew 6:11).   It is easy to habitually pray, but sometimes difficult to believe.  Jesus also taught us to “not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34).

Let’s make a commitment this month to pray for God’s protection, healing, finances – you fill in the blank – for each day only. When we rely on our own power to manipulate the future, the result is usually maggots and stench.  When we rely on God’s love, we eat nourishing quail in the evening and find his sweet bread of life in the morning dew.

Give us this day our daily bread: pray it; believe it; and live each day in the peace of Jesus.

Mike is a writer and teacher. You can contact him at: www.mikevanvrankenministries.org or write him at: Mike Van Vranken, 523 Loch Ridge Drive, Shreveport, LA  71106.

Únete al Sufrimiento de Nuestros Hermanos y Hermanas con Corazón Amoroso

por Obispo Michael G. Duca

Se está haciendo tarde mientras escribo esta reflexión.  Quiero irme a dormir pero tengo que entregar este artículo mañana.  No puedo pensar sobre que tema escribir. En realidad no es así, si no que el tema y evento que llena mi mente y mi corazón es el de la persecución de los cristianos en el mundo, especialmente nuestros hermanos y hermanas en IRAQ.  Se me hace difícil escribir porque el horror es muy grande y muy difícil de explicar, y tal vez para decirlo mas directo, muy difícil de soportar.

Una descripción de la Iglesia Católica Caldea, la Iglesia Católica del Este, a la cual pertenecen la mayoría de los Cristianos Iraquíes y se reporta el 7 de Agosto:

“Los militantes ISIS atacaron con armas pesadas la mayoría de los pueblitos del área de Nínive, durante la noche del 6 y 7 de Agosto y ahora están controlando ya esa área. Los cristianos, como 100,000, llenos de horror y pánico, huyeron fuera de sus casas y pueblos (sin nada) mas que su ropa en la espalda,” dijo el Patriarca Luis Raphael I Saco. “un éxodo, un verdadero vía crucis. Los Cristianos están caminando a pie en el implacable calor de verano de Iraq hacia las ciudades de Jurdish Arbil, Duhok y Soulaymiyia, incluyendo los enfermos, los ancianos, los bebes y las mujeres embarazadas. Están enfrentando una catástrofe humana y un verdadero riesgo de genocidio. Necesitan agua, comida, un techo.”

También hemos escuchado de los terribles actos de violencia y de martirio a los Cristianos. Digo martirio porque los Cristianos Caldeos, nuestros hermanos y hermanas están siendo asesinados porque se rehúsan a negar la fe en Cristo.

Esta persecución es muy difícil de cargar en el corazón. Podemos también sentirnos agobiados porque el problema parece tan grande, tan lejano. ¿Qué podemos hacer?

En momentos como estos estamos aptos para darnos por vencidos y tratar de sacar esta tragedia fuera de nuestras mentes. Si yo no puedo resolver el problema, entonces no hay nada que pueda hacer. Esta, por su puesto no es la manera correcta de pensar. Entre más nos distanciamos de las realidades del mundo, más somos tentados a vivir nuestras vidas superficial y egoístamente. No se espera que resolvamos todo el problema pero si somos llamados por nuestra fe en Jesucristo a unirnos al sufrimiento de nuestros hermanos y hermanas con un corazón amoroso. Así que, ¿Cómo haremos esto estando tan lejos de ellos?

Primero, oramos – no solamente oración casual si no apartar un largo tiempo de oración, suficientemente largo que pensemos profundamente en el sufrimiento de otros y abrir nuestros corazones para sentir algo de su dolor. En momentos de oración como estos, escogemos abrir nuestros corazones para cargar la cruz de Jesús y unirnos al sufrimiento de los demás. Esta oración no se trata de palabras sino de permitir que nuestros corazones sean traspasados por el sufrimiento de otros, porque en ese momento, encontramos la presencia de Dios y cambiamos. Nuestros corazones se unen a las preocupaciones de otros y menos en nuestras pequeñas preocupaciones. También podemos escuchar mejor las necesidades de aquellos a nuestro alrededor y ayudar a los que sí podemos.

Por medio de nuestra oración viene nuestra respuesta. Hay dos maneras de ayudar. Por medio de la organización de Servicios Católicos de Ayuda (crs.org) que está dando ayuda directa a los necesitados en Iraq y otras áreas de mucha necesidad en todo el mundo. ¡Apoye este trabajo! Es la mano de la Iglesia, nuestra familia, ayudando a los mas necesitados. Dando dinero, tiempo y artículos nos conecta con la Iglesia sufriente de una manera más real y nos permite poner nuestras vidas en una perspectiva más espiritual y amorosa,  dándonos cuenta que muchas de nuestras necesidades y deseos son superficiales y egoístas. No podemos mantener en nuestros corazones el sufrimiento de otra persona en necesidad como la necesidad de agua para vivir, sin reflexionar sobre la manera en que usamos y mal usamos el regalo de agua limpia y el dinero egoístamente comprando por ejemplo una botella de agua especial.

No es fácil cargar el sufrimiento de otros pero es lo que Jesús hizo y nos invita a que al igual que él, carguemos con nuestra cruz.

No se sobrecarguen al afrontar el sufrimiento del mundo que por los medios de comunicación parece tan cercano. Por otro lado, no tengan miedo de cargar en sus corazones algo del sufrimiento que hay en el mundo. En su oración sentirán el sufrimiento de los demás que, aunque parezca que están muy lejos, sus oraciones los alcanzarán y sus corazones serán cambiados. Jesús tomó sobre sí mismo los pecados del mundo y nos dio una vida nueva. ¿Acaso podemos nosotros hacer menos que Él por nuestros hermanos y hermanas? Carguemos con nuestra cruz y sigámoslo.