From time to time it seems that many people, lost in the confusion, turbulence and complexities of modern life, fall into the trap of taking many good things for granted.
We become so concerned about the cost of living, the pressures of work, the unfolding national and international disasters, that we don’t see, or fail to recognize, the blessings of our daily lives.
The help we receive from our priests, for instance, often goes if not unnoticed, at least unacknowledged. We take for granted that the men of God who guide us, who serve their parishes not only as leaders of the faith but as accountants, administrators, counselors and a myriad of other roles, will always be there when we need them. And they will.
We assume that the Catholic schools we trust with the education of our children will be excellent. We know, without giving it much thought, that educators will provide the moral, spiritual and educational guidance necessary to give our young people their best chance at a successful and meaningful life. It’s almost a given.
And when the people of God are most in need, the church here and around the world always responds. It’s one of the great constants of the Catholic faith.
When disaster strikes, when mother nature erupts or mankind loses its way and resorts to violence and war, the church will be there to help those caught in the maelstrom.
The church and its people will help provide food to the hungry, water to the thirsty, shelter to those who’ve lost their homes.
Consider the efforts for people of Eastern Kentucky who have seen a 1,000-year flood wash away their homes, jobs, schools, churches — entire towns. Thirty-nine people lost their lives.
As Record Editor Marnie McAllister reported in the Aug. 11 and Sept. 1 editions, the need after rains of biblical proportions struck the area in late July is monumental.
Catholic Charities of Lexington, Catholic Charities USA and the Archdiocese of Louisville have so far collected more than half a million dollars to help with the relief effort. And as McAllister reported, the effort will need to be long-term.
So far people from at least seven dioceses and more than 40 states have done what Catholics always do — they’ve stepped forward to help.
Overseas the efforts of Catholics mirror the response to the Eastern Kentucky floods.
Heavy rains, also in July, brought disaster to southern Germany, eastern Belgium and parts of the Netherlands. Officials said nearly 200 people died and hundreds more were missing in what German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the worst natural disaster in her country in six decades.
Within hours of the flooding, Catholic Relief Services organized efforts to assist local dioceses in their recovery.
In yet another unfolding disaster, about a third of the nation of Pakistan is under water and millions of people have been displaced. Catholic Relief Services has responded and has already made cash donations to more than 2,300 families to help them repair homes or buy food. A spokeswoman for CRS told Catholic News Service that her agency is working with the Pakistani government and other agencies to meet the most urgent needs of people in Sindh and Baluchistan provinces.
Already more than 1,191 people have been confirmed dead and that number is expected to rise.
And in Boca Raton, Fla., an international charity called Cross Catholic Outreach has been providing food and other services to Ukrainians displaced by the February Russian invasion and war that has waged since. In a Catholic News Service story in August, Jim Cavnar, president of the charity, said his organization has provided $3.3 billion in aid to more than 85 countries since its founding in 2001.
Cross Catholic Outreach has in recent years built homes following hurricanes in Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Since the war in Ukraine began, the agency has provided nearly a billion meals to refugees.
“We’re the church and Christ told us, ‘Whatever you do for the least of my brothers and sisters, you do for me.’ The church is doing what she always does — respond to those in need,” Cavnar told CNS. “Where it’s needed, the church is there.”
It’s a strength of our faith and it’s one of many things we shouldn’t take for granted.
Record Editor Emeritus