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Editorial: Gestures of affection and care

Now is the time for corporal works of mercy, helping our neighbors with their needs

It’s times like these when Catholics step up to help the most vulnerable in our communities.

The economic impact of the shutdowns accompanying the fight against COVID-19 coronavirus are just beginning to be felt. Added to it is the need to continue to assist agencies that already were operating at their limit in serving people in need.

In writing last week about The Beatitudes — the teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5: 1-10) — Pope Francis noted that each person is called to rediscover what truly matters. Now is that time.

In a recent interview, Pope Francis said people must use this time of the coronavirus pandemic to rediscover the importance of small, concrete gestures of affection and care toward others.

We are seeing that reaction from the Catholic community. Volunteers with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul are foregoing home visits but they are dropping off food on porches of neighbors in need. Several Annual Catholic Appeal-supported agencies are stepping up to meet needs as well. The St. Patrick Center casserole program which feeds homeless and needy people continues to receive meals from parishioners. A call to receive donations for its food pantry and sack lunches surely will be heeded. Our Catholic community likewise will respond to Sts. Joachim and Ann Care Service’s call for donations. And Cardinal Ritter Senior Services has asked for letters, cards and drawings to share with its residents who are not receiving visitors at this time.

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson asks all Catholics to remind our neighbors, friends, and family that we love them. We do that, he stated, by calling to offer comfort, ensuring they are in good health, and receiving the care they need. It’s at the heart of the corporal works of mercy, kind acts by which we help our neighbors with their material and physical needs. We also need to attend to spiritual works of mercy by which we help our neighbors with their emotional and spiritual needs.

Archbishop Carlson asks us to increase our prayers for those who are suffering and those caring for them around the world, and for organizations such as Catholic Charities serving victims of the pandemic. He also asks all Catholics to courageously increase their giving in spite of the economic difficulties.

The Annual Catholic Appeal is an important way to fund our service to others. Archbishop Carlson points out in materials for the Appeal that it unifies Catholics as “we demonstrate we are one Church in our efforts to assist those who are suffering and abandoned.”

The support “means thousands will find grace and mercy through the Annual Catholic Appeal,” Archbishop Carlson said, “not because those we serve are Catholic, but because we are Catholic.”

Recently, he stated that “as the impact of the coronavirus becomes more evident, it is clear that more people than ever will need help from the Church. In this year, when there will be so many challenges facing the Annual Catholic Appeal, I am asking you to renew your commitment to gathering the resources we need to serve those who are suffering.”

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