Charity, social justice must be coupled with prayer, pope says
VATICAN CITY — All pastoral work, including promoting social justice and providing for the poor, must be nourished by prayer, Pope Benedict XVI said.
Without contemplating and internalizing God's word daily, one risks being suffocated by too heavy a workload and one's heart risks hardening to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, he said.
"Charity and justice are not just social action but are spiritual action realized in the light of the Holy Spirit," he said during the general audience in St. Peter's Square April 25. It was attended by more than 20,000 pilgrims from all over the world, including members of the U.S. Catholic Health Association and the Ascension Health Alliance.
Pictured: Pope Benedict XVI greets the crowd as he arrives to lead his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican April 25. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Continuing a series of talks on Christian prayer, the pope highlighted Chapter 6 of the Acts of the Apostles, which recounts how the early Christian community decided to call forth "seven reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom" to be dedicated to charitable action so the apostles could continue to dedicate themselves to prayer and proclaiming the word of God.
"The proclamation of the Gospel -- the primacy of God -- and (providing) concrete charity and justice were creating difficulties," and the community had to find a solution so that both would have their place in the church, the pope said.
The apostles created a new ministry dedicated to the needy because the church is called not just to proclaim the word but to fulfill it through concrete acts of love and truth, he said.
At the same time, he said, the apostles underlined the importance of prayer so that those who carried out the church's charitable mission would do so "in the spirit of faith with the light of God."
Charity workers must be filled with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit and not just be "good organizers who know how to do things," the pope said.
In fact, the apostles laid their hands on those chosen for the new ministry, conferring God's grace and "consecrating them in the truth which is Jesus Christ," he said. It was not a simple act of assigning a new role or responsibility to someone as happens in secular organizations, "but is an ecclesial event."
"The difficulty that the church was going through concerning the problem of serving the poor, the question of charity, is overcome through prayer," he said. It's through prayer and reflecting on God's word that people can "respond to every challenge and situation with wisdom, understanding and fidelity to God's will."
Pope Benedict said, "We must not lose ourselves to pure activism, but always let our actions be penetrated by the light and the word of God and, that way, learn real charity."
Truly serving others means not just providing them the basic necessities, it's giving, "above all, the affection of our heart and God's light," he said.
Everything Christians do should be nourished by contemplating God, which is especially important in a world that stresses productivity and efficiency above all else, he said.
At the end of the audience, Pope Benedict called on people to drive sensibly and responsibly.
Greeting families of road-accident victims, the pope said his prayers with "all those who have lost their lives on the road," and he said people have "the duty to always drive prudently and responsibly."
A delegation from the U.S. Catholic Health Association, led by its president and CEO, Daughter of Charity Sister Carol Keehan, was in Rome along with members of Ascension Health, a St. Louis-based alliance of Catholic health care systems.
Contacted by email, Sister Carol said the groups were taking part in an annual weeklong education program in Rome for senior leaders in management, board and sponsorship roles in the field of health care.
"Its purpose is to help them know the church universal better and what it means to lead a church ministry," she wrote.
The "Ecclesiology and Spiritual Renewal Program for Health Care Leaders" included meetings with officials of a variety of Vatican congregations and with the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry.
— Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service
Patron saints of familiesThere's a saint for everyone, and families are no different. Here are a few noteworthy examples for your family to learn more about. There is the familiar and beloved St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus, and St. Francis of Assisi, who's on everyone's...
Reflections on St. PeterPeter the fishermanAfter Jesus, Peter is the figure best known and most frequently cited in the New Testament writings: he is mentioned 154 times with the nickname of Pétros, "rock," the Greek translation of the Aramaic name Jesus gave him directly;...
Pope Francis on the Year of FaithPope Francis spoke about the Year of Faith in his audience with representatives of the Churches and Ecclesial Communities, and other religions March 20: "I begin my apostolic ministry in this year that my venerated predecessor, Pope Benedict...
As pope, Benedict worked to promote understanding of Vatican IIVATICAN CITY — On Feb. 14, in one of the last public appearances of his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI spoke to the clergy of Rome about his experiences at the Second Vatican Council, which he had attended as an expert consultant half a century...
People around world pledge to say rosary daily during Year of FaithEASTON, Mass. — The Family Rosary division of Holy Cross Family Ministries in Easton has gathered more than 80,000 pledges from people around the globe who said they would pray the rosary daily during the 2012-13 Year of Faith. The pledges,...
A culture of lifeIn 2013 our country observes a shameful anniversary: marking 40 years of a "culture of death" that began when the U.S. Supreme Court, in Roe v. Wade, struck down all state laws restricting abortion. Since the advent of "legalized" abortion,...
The Fathers of the Church
Lives of the Saints
St. Mark the Evangelist's feast day celebrated on April 25St. Mark is the patron of St. Mark Church in Huntersville, which was dedicated in 2009. (File, Catholic News Herald)St. Mark, the Evangelist, is the author of the second Gospel and the patron saint of notaries. He wrote the Gospel in Greek for the Gentile...
St. Damien of Molokai's life of sacrifice remembered May 10The Church will remember St. Damien of Molokai May 10. The Belgian priest sacrificed his life and health to become a spiritual father to the victims of leprosy quarantined on a Hawaiian island. Joseph de Veuser, who later took the name Damien in religious...
'Oracle of Palestine' St. Epiphanius of Salamis celebrated May 12On May 12 the Church honors St. Epiphanius of Salamis, an early monk, bishop and Church Father known for his extensive learning and defense of Catholic teachings in the fourth century. During a 2007 visit with the Orthodox Archbishop of Cyprus, Pope...
St. Katharine Drexel has local connectionOn March 3, the Church celebrates the feast of St. Katharine Drexel, a Philadelphia heiress who abandoned her family's fortune to found an order of sisters dedicated to serving the impoverished African American and Native American populations...
St. Bede known for scholarship and holiness, honored May 25The Church will celebrate the feast of St. Bede May 25. The English priest, monk and scholar is sometimes known as "the Venerable Bede" for his combination of personal holiness and intellectual brilliance. Bede was born during 673 near the...
- Read the Catechism in a year: A little to read every day, emailed each morning during the Year of Faith
- USCCB: Stories, videos and more about the Year of Faith
- Annusfidei.va: Vatican's Year of Faith website
- Catholic Relief Services: Features and stories about Year of Faith
- My Year of Faith App: Daily prayers, reflections and thoughts
- Video Catechism for Teens: A free online resource for youths and young adults
- Weekly video series: “C4: Ignite Your Catholic Faith”
- OnceCatholic.org: Geared for people who have left their Catholic faith
- Explore the Sacraments: An 8-part video series on the Sacraments
FROM THE PASTORS
Read and listen to homilies posted regularly by pastors at parishes within the Diocese of Charlotte:
- Fr. Frank Cancro at Queen of the Apostles
- Fr. Patrick Earl at St. Peter in Charlotte
- Fr. John Eckert at St. John the Baptist in Tryon
- Fr. Timothy Reid at St. Ann in Charlotte
- Fr. Benjamin Roberts at Our Lady of Lourdes in Monroe
- Fr. Patrick Winslow at St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlotte
- Watch full Masses live and on demand, listen to homilies and reflections from Sacred Heart Church in Salisbury
- Listen to homilies from St. William Catholic Church in Murphy