Jesus Christ is present to all of creation today. He is contemporaneous to our situation here in New York City, to those who daily one to the Church of Saint Catherine of Siena for prayer, rest and social assistance. Charitable work of our parish educates us and it awakens in us the face of Christ alive and well in the other person. What does it mean to work charitably?
Pope Benedict XVI stated on 11 November 2011:
For Christians, volunteer work is not merely an expression of good will. It is based on a personal experience of Christ. He was the first to serve humanity, he freely gave his life for the good of all. That gift was not based on our merits. From this we learn that God gives us himself. More than that: Deus Caritas est – God is love, to quote a phrase from the First Letter of Saint John (4:8) which I employed as the title of my first Encyclical Letter. The experience of God’s generous love challenges us and liberates us to adopt the same attitude towards our brothers and sisters: “You received with paying, give without pay” (Mt 10:8). We experience this especially in the Eucharist when the Son of God, in the breaking of bread, brings together the vertical dimension of his divine gift with the horizontal dimension of our service to our brothers and sisters.
Parishioners of Saint Catherine’s realize this fact through the preaching of the Dominican Friars that a life of prayer and service is a matter of “a formation of the heart.” Our works of charity here at the Parish are concerned with lending a united voice for the respect of all people, especially the rights and human needs of the poor and those on the margins of society.
The parable of the Good Samaritan is the most emblematic of our Christian life together. Benedict XVI tells us:
Christian charity is first of all the simple response to immediate needs and specific situations: feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for and healing the sick, visiting those in prison, etc. … We are dealing with human beings, and human beings always need something more than technically proper care. They need humanity. They need heartfelt concern. Those who work for the Church’s charitable organizations must be distinguished by the fact that they do not merely meet the needs of the moment, but they dedicate themselves to others with heartfelt concern, enabling them to experience the richness of their humanity. … As a result, love of neighbor will no longer be for them a commandment imposed, so to speak, from without, but a consequence deriving from their faith, a faith which becomes active through love (cf. Gal 5:6). The Christian’s program
the program of the Good Samaritan, the program of Jesus—is ‘a heart which sees.’ This heart sees where love is needed and acts accordingly (Deus Caritas Est, 31).
Our works of charity are signs of solidarity with the other person. The heart of our charitable work is those who say they are Christian cannot be indifferent to the hungry, thirsty, the naked, the imprison, the unborn, the elderly, the sick, the mentally ill, etc. Why? Because the Gospel is intimately linked to reality in front of us. A life of faith necessarily means a life of service.
At Saint Catherine’s we (consult the Bulletin for details):
- teach the truth in love;
- befriend the lonely;
- feed and cloth the homeless;
- visit the homebound and the sick in the four area hospitals;
- provide an education to those in need;
- bring food to those in need at the holidays;
- participate in the “St Martin’s Bag” initiative, and much more.