Sacraments

MERIDIAN – (Above) St. Patrick Parish Confirmation, Aug. 22, First Row (l-r): Father Andrew Nguyen, Hannah Grace Hannington, Kirstie Graves, Maci Manning, Dennilyn Hoang, Callie Matthews and Marisol Garcia.
Second Row: Miller Hodge, Zane Pritchard, Toan (Tom Tom) Nguyen, Seth Auzennne, Father Augustine Palimattam, Zachary Purdy, Rebecca Lee and Maria Mayo-Ramos.
Pictured Below: Hayden Dickerson receives the sacrament of Confirmation from Father Augustine Palimattam. (Photos by John Harwell)
VICKSBURG – St. Michael Parish, Confirmation, Front Row: Faith Beamish, Samantha Graves, Alana Latorre, Anna Lamanilao, Christina Waisner and Keely Ramshur. Middle Row: Victoria Morehead, Katlyn Donovan, Julia Liggett, Mary Reilly Powell, Grace Gannon, Leah Larson and Maggie Roberson. Back Row: Father P.J. Curley, Dillon Chambers, Andy Bufkin, Father Robert Dore, Jack Gannon and Carter Magee. (Photo by Helene Benson)
JACKSON – Gemma Metzger celebrated her First Communion at St.Richard Parish on June 21. (Photo by Gina Metzger)
OXFORD – St. John the Evangelist, First Communion, July 17, Pictured (l-r): Garrett Klawitter, Daniel Peters, Jack Whelan, John Whelan, Emily Guerrero, Alyssa Schamell, Hailey Thompson, Ashley Neal, Father Joe Tonos, Celestina-Ly Rodrigues, Lila Merkel, Madeline Thornton, Mary Elizabeth Brents, Collins Helveston, Jacob Albright and Grayson Knapp. (Photo by Gene Buglewicz)
AMORY – Georgie Hesse and Loretta Seifert received their First Holy Communion on Saturday, Aug. 29, at St. Helen Church in Amory in a special Mass with their families. (Photo by Jean Pinkley)
PEARL – Patience Beatrice-Celeste Brown received the sacrament of Confirmation on July 26 at St. Jude Parish. She is pictured with her proud parents Allison and Kimberley Naylor. (Photo by Kimberley Brown)
VICKSBURG – (Above) St. Michael Parish, First Communion, Front Row (l-r): Ashlyn Naya, Blakely Farrell, Andrew Blake and Sophia Purdy.
Back Row (l-r): Lanie Weeks, Mary Helen Bradley, Father Robert Dore, Noah Ponder and Jackson Ratliff. (Photo by Helene Benson)
FOREST – St. Michael Parish, First Communion class. (Photo courtesy of Father Roberto Mena, ST)
GREENWOOD – Father Joachim Studwell, OFM celebrated the sacrament of First Communion on Saturday, Aug. 1 at St. Francis of Assisi Parish. (Photo courtesy of Father Joachim Studwell)
SOUTHAVEN – Henry Bowling of Holy Spirit Hernando celebrated his First Communion at Christ the King Parish on Aug. 1. (Photo by Terra Bowling)
CARTHAGE – St. Anne Parish, Confirmation, Front row: (l-r) Father Gustavo Amell, ST, Tracy Lopez, Daysy Modesto, Yazmin Gonzalez, Yocelyn Gonzalez, Evelio Ramirez and Nicodemo Lopez (catequist). Back row: (l-r)Edgar Modesto, Anthony Garcia, Sandra Perez, Father Odel Medina, ST, Efrain Lopez, Giovany Garcia and Karol Lopez. (Photo courtesy of Oscar Aguilon)
St. Anne Parish, Confirmation, Front row: (l-r) Hugo Agustin, Marco Vasquez, Mirna Miranda, Yesica Lopez, Cheryl Salvador, Suleima Anahi and Nicodemo Lopez (catequist). Second row: (l-r) Anderson Morales, Father Odel Medina, ST and Hector Raul. (Photo by Gionavy Garcia)
FLOWOOD – Alexander Jose Quintero celebrated his First Communion at St. Paul Parish on Aug. 9. He is pictured here with his family after the service. (Photo by Carolina Quintero)

On the frontlines, sisters aid families in need

By Berta Mexidor
JACKSON – Health and economic hardships brought on by COVID-19 have been felt across the world. To help in the U.S., Catholic Extension launched the Sisters on the Frontlines alliance in late June in response to the pandemic, taking particular care to aid communities disproportionately afflicted by poverty and a lack of resources.
The goal of the initiative is to give 1,000 sisters, $1,000 each to provide rapid response to the poor and distressed. So far, five sisters in the Diocese of Jackson have received funds from through this special program – Sister Lael Niblick and Sister Mary Christine Fellerhoff of St. Helen Amory; Sister Nancy Schreck of Excel in Okalona; and Sister Maria Eugenia Moreno, MGSpS and Obdulia Olivar, MGSpS of St. Michael Forest.
According to Joe Boland, vice president of mission for Catholic Extension, the funds are unrestricted and the process to request and receive funds is simple.

“If they’re engaged in some ministry that is serving the poor — or have access to the poor — they determine how the money will be spent,” Boland said. “They know the ones in their communities, they know the names, the faces, the families. They will be able to deliver it or organize it in such a way that support goes to those who have the greatest need.”
Sister Obdulia, working with Hispanic families in Scott County affected by the ICE raids of Aug. 2019 and now impacted by COVID-19, said “Families to help are many, it was not difficult to identify them. We know what families were impacted by COVID and which ones were in most need of [this] help.”
Boland said that the sisters may serve anywhere, not just the 87 U.S. dioceses in Catholic Extension’s territory. Funding is released as it is raised, and Catholic Extension continues to seek donations to underwrite the program.
The Diocese of Jackson has been blessed by the service of many orders of sisters over the years: The Congregation of the Sisters of St. Agnes, – CSA; Missionaries Guadalupanas of the Holy Spirit, MGSpS; School Sisters of Notre Dame, SSND; Sisters of Humility of Mary, CHM; Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, RSM; Daughters of Charity, DC; Sisters of Charity of Halifax, SC; Franciscan Sisters, OSF; Sisters of the Living Word, SLW; Order of Discalced Carmelite Nuns, OCD; Dominican Sisters of Springfield, OP; Congregation of the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, FSPA; Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, SCN School Sisters of St. Francis, Milwaukee, WI – OSF; Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, SNJM; Sisters of the Holy Spirit and Mary Immaculate, S.H.Sp.; Union of the Sisters of the Presentation of the BVM, PBVM; and Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, St. Louis Province – CSJ.
Since the program began in June, 378 sisters have received support from the Sisters on the Frontline grant program and another 622 have requested funds.
Sisters who have received funding are asked to report back to Catholic Extension as to how the funds were used. Catholic Extension will be sharing the sisters’ stories as they are received. To learn more or to donate, visit https://www.catholicextension.org/sisters-on-the-frontlines/.

Youth

COLUMBUS – On Aug. 27, kindergarten students practiced their parachuting skills in P.E. class with Father Jeffrey Waldrep. (Photo by Katie Fenstermacher)
NATCHEZ – (Below) Teens, parents and Knights of Columbus joined together to work on yards on Sunday, Aug. 30. Every six weeks youth from St. Mary Basilica get together with the Knights of Columbus to work on the yard of an older person who needs help. (Photo by Carrie Lambert)
JACKSON – (Left) Father Nick Adam recently spoke to the sixth grade classes at Saint Richard School about vocations. The children had the opportunity to ask questions and visit with Father Nick about his new role as director of vocations for the Diocese of Jackson. (Photo by Emily Myers Garner)

Parishes postpone and cancel events due to COVID-19

By Joe Lee
MADISON – Parishioners at St. James Parish of Leland were greeted in a recent church bulletin with this sobering news regarding their annual parish fair:
“The council felt that it was in the best interest of the community to postpone the upcoming fair. Without it, we will have substantial loss of income. Discussion was held regarding ways to offset this loss. Any contributions will be greatly appreciated. Please mark your contributions ‘Parish Fair.’”
A tiny Mississippi Delta town with a population of less than 4,000, Leland is in an economically-depressed area to begin with, and this month’s cancellation of St. James’ biggest annual fundraiser — which debuted in 1933 — was not an easy decision to make. While health and safety concerns came first, the loss of the event puts the parish in a significant financial hole.
“We (usually) serve about 800 spaghetti plates with meatballs, all homemade by the ladies of the church from a very old recipe,” said Debbie Ruggeri, St. James Parish secretary. “They’re served in the parish hall, where we also have a silent auction. The outside booths — a ribeye booth, a ham booth, a bingo booth, and teddy bear and fishing booths for children — usually handle about 1,000 people. Everything is donated.”
Raffle tickets are also sold, and those who purchase the highest-priced $100 tickets are competing for a $10,000 grand prize. Not only are the loyal parishioners of St. James missing the badly-needed fellowship opportunities amid the pandemic, the gaps in the parish budget will be felt for some time.
St. James is not alone. At St. Joseph of Gluckstadt, Germanfest has been a September staple since the 1980s and draws crowds of 10,000. Attendees drive in from neighboring states as well as all corners of Mississippi.
“The family-oriented festival is best known for its delicious German food, including bratwurst, shish kabobs, and homemade sauerkraut,” said Pam Minninger, St. Joseph lay ecclesial minister. “Visitors also look forward to participating in the beer stein-holding contest and authentic German Folk music and dancing.
“A significant amount of the proceeds is donated to local charities. Hopefully we will be able to absorb the shortfall and still be able to support some of these charities this year.”
With no way of knowing what the pandemic restrictions on large groups will be from month to month, St. James has postponed their parish fair until early 2021 and are having initial discussions about possibly having a modified event. Likewise, talks are underway at St. Joseph about cooking up a small-scale Germanfest.
“We are anticipating, at some point after the first of the year, possibly having some type of take-out bratwurst meal that folks can come by and pick up,” Minninger said. “That way they can get their ‘German food fix.’”
Cajun Fest at nearby St. Francis of Assisi in Madison is that parish’s largest fundraiser and features mouthwatering Cajun delicacies and lots of family-friendly fun. With an extensive facilities overhaul and building campaign underway, the cancellation of this year’s event (already delayed from May until October) will leave a deep shortfall in parish fundraising. St. Francis will go virtual, however, in an effort to make back at least some of the losses.
“We will host live the drawing of our annual raffle associated with Cajun Fest at 2 p.m. on October 4,” said Father Albeenreddy Vatti, St. Francis of Assisi pastor. “We chose this date because it is Feast Day for St. Francis, our patron saint. Annually, we celebrate this day with an event, A Taste of St. Francis. It is a time we can gather and celebrate the many cultures that make up our parish with great food and music.”
One of the more disheartening cancellations is the seventy-fifth anniversary celebration at Immaculate Conception Church in Clarksdale. Because of pandemic concerns, the small parish hasn’t yet reopened for services and, without the anniversary event, must find other ways to raise money to fund facility upgrades and insurance payments on the church building.
“It has been customary that a fun gathering with a cookout or soul food dinner is planned during the week of the anniversary,” said Father Raju Macharla, Immaculate Conception pastor. “In January the members met to plan a jubilant celebration, and plans were made for a Mass with a reception planned for Sept. 5 to coincide with Bishop Joseph Kopacz’s trip to Mound Bayou that evening.
“One of the highlights would have been to visit with former teachers, students, sisters, priests, and parishioners. We had already started reminding them to save the date and have received regrets and disappointments since the pandemic has occurred.”
Catholic Charities also lost their annual Journey of Hope fundraising luncheon to COVID-19, but the organization — thanks in part to the flexibility of keynote speaker Elizabeth Smart — is back on the calendar for early 2021.
“We’re still at the Jackson Convention Complex and set for February 25,” said Michael Thomas, Catholic Charities development director. “We would have seated ten to a table and will now seat six, but we will have more available tables. Everyone will wear masks to enter and exit unless the mask order has been lifted by then.
“At the meet-and-greet the evening before, we’ll have a book signing with Elizabeth, a paid event at 6 p.m. at a location that has yet to be determined. Her story covers so much of what we do at Catholic Charities in our counseling: kidnapping, rape, domestic violence, and abuse. She is wonderful to work with and has such a strong faith in God.”
Thomas said that a Peer to Peer social media campaign will launch Sept. 15 to begin recouping the loss of funding from this month’s Journey of Hope cancellation. Football coach Lou Holtz drew nearly 1,000 attendees in 2016, and hopes are high that Smart, who was abducted from her Utah family home in 2002 at the age of fourteen before being rescued nine months later, will pack the convention complex in February.
Ultimately, while some events can’t be recreated — Immaculate Conception will never have another seventy-fifth anniversary — many parishes and organizations are thinking creatively and trying to find silver linings in preparing for the future.
“We normally have our Bishop’s Ball each year, and this year we had a virtual event,” Thomas said. “It was a great success and touched more people than the usual ones. We had the live auction online a week before, and everything sold — we were shocked. Wanda Thomas is our new executive director and hosted the hour-long event on Facebook. We were faced with either no Bishop’s Ball or thinking of another way.”

Hurricane destroys Louisiana churches, closes schools, displaces priests

By Catholic News Service
LAKE CHARLES, La (CNS) – Hurricane Laura destroyed six churches in the Diocese of Lake Charles, left a dozen others “highly compromised” and did heavy damage to chancery offices.
The diocese, in a report posted on its website, said that only one of six Catholic schools reopened Aug. 31, while the others needed at least some repairs before classes could resume.
The storm, which slammed southern Louisiana with winds of up to 150 mph in the early hours of Aug. 27, also left a diocesan rectory housing 20 priests, a third of them in active ministry, uninhabitable.
Some of the priests were able to relocate to rectories that sustained little or no damage, while others moved into Vianney House, a diocesan residence for people discerning a vocation, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in central Lake Charles and private homes.
Utilities, including power and water, in much of the region remained out Aug. 31.

Buildings damaged by Hurricane Laura are seen in an Aug. 30, 2020, aerial photograph in Lake Charles, La. (CNS photo/Drone Base, Reuters)

The devastation was widespread, according to Bishop Glen J. Provost, bishop of the Lake Charles Diocese.
The roof of the chancery collapsed during the storm, leaving the building unusable, and a diocesan building across the street from the chancery sustained minor damage with broken windows from the fierce winds.
“The city is a disaster. No houses, no business is left untouched. The chancery will be unusable in the foreseeable future. We have 39 parishes and seven missions. All suffered some damage,” Bishop Provost said.
Hurricane Laura was the most powerful hurricane to strike southwest Louisiana, surpassing the devastation of Hurricane Rita in 2005 and Hurricane Audrey in 1957, the diocese said.
Catholic Charities of Southwest Louisiana began providing emergency relief within hours after the storm passed.
“We are here, we are open and we trying to meet the needs of the community,” the diocesan report quoted Mercy Sister Miriam MacLean, the agency’s director, saying.
“The Lord preserved Catholic Charities from any major damage for sure so that we can be up and operational,” she said. “We have a little bit of leakage in the roof and a couple of roll-up doors got a little damage, but we are blessed. We have a generator and the Religious Sisters of Mercy are running the office.”
The diocese reported that one of its newly ordained priests, Father Joseph Caraway, parochial vicar at St. Henry Church in St. Charles, used a chainsaw to clear a path so the Mercy sisters could return to their convent.
The priest then delivered food to homebound residents in the city, the diocese said.
The Knights of Columbus donated $150,000 to the Diocese of Lake Charles to assist with recovery efforts.
Bishop Provost rode out the storm at a parish in the northern part of the diocese.
“It is extremely important for me to live in my house in the diocese so I can be available to the priests and to the faithful,” said Bishop Provost, who has headed the diocese since 2007. “Some gentlemen from the cathedral parish bulldozed my driveway so that I could get to my house. Every tree in my yard, except maybe three or four, were downed. You can barely see my house from Lake Street because of all the downed trees.”
He reached out and offered prayers to all diocesan churches hours after the storm swept through the area.
The six destroyed churches are Our Lady of the Assumption in Johnson Bayou; Our Lady of the Lake in Lake Charles; Our Lady of the Sea in Cameron; Sacred Heart of Jesus in Creole; St. Eugene in Grand Chenier; and St. Peter the Apostle in Hackberry.
“Most of what I have witnessed so far has been wind damage,” Bishop Provost said.
He said Mass will continue to be celebrated when possible throughout the diocese.
“We appreciate everyone’s prayers. Bishops in other dioceses have sent word of assistance to us, so we appreciate the fellowship of the other Catholic dioceses throughout the nation. I have heard from bishops on the East and West coasts and especially in Texas and Louisiana,” he said.
As for the schools, only Our Lady Immaculate in Jennings was prepared to reopen Aug. 31. The diocese reported that Father Keith Pellerin, pastor of Our Lady Help of Christians Church in Jennings, said that classes would resume at the school.
St. Louis Catholic High School in Lake Charles sustained severe damage during the storm’s onslaught.
“Father (Nathan) Long, rector of the school, reported that the roof of the administration building is, for the most part, blown off. Windows in various classrooms are blown in and there is roof damage at the gym,” Father Pellerin said.
Bishop Provost spoke with Principal Trevor Donnelly of Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic School in Lake Charles, who reported minor damage to the building. However, the adjacent parish church sustained “substantial” damage. The parish rectory’s roof was significantly damaged, making it uninhabitable.
Volunteers were on hand Aug. 30 to clear trees and debris from the parish property.
Bishop Provost plans to visit as many parishes as possible to survey the storm’s impact firsthand.
Catholic Charities planned to distribute food, water and tarps to families in need. Sister MacLean said the dioceses of Beaumont, Texas, and Lafayette, Louisiana, will store donated supplies because her agency’s facility does not have enough storage space.
Bishop David L. Toups of Beaumont, Texas, helped deliver bottled water and also prepared meals to Catholic Charities of Southwest Louisiana despite having to assess storm damage in his diocese to the west. He said the damage in Beaumont was much less severe than in Lake Charles.
Sister MacLean also said people who were evacuated to hotels will need vouchers to remain there until other housing arrangements can be made. Long-term shelter will become a major need for people left homeless by Hurricane Laura, she said.

(Donations for relief effort are being accepted online at www.catholiccharitiesswla.com and www.catholiccharitiesusa.org.)

On the frontlines, sisters aid families in need

By Berta Mexidor
JACKSON – Health and economic hardships brought on by COVID-19 have been felt across the world. To help in the U.S., Catholic Extension launched the Sisters on the Frontlines alliance in late June in response to the pandemic, taking particular care to aid communities disproportionately afflicted by poverty and a lack of resources.
The goal of the initiative is to give 1,000 sisters, $1,000 each to provide rapid response to the poor and distressed. So far, five sisters in the Diocese of Jackson have received funds from through this special program – Sister Lael Niblick and Sister Mary Christine Fellerhoff of St. Helen Amory; Sister Nancy Schreck of Excel in Okalona; and Sister Maria Eugenia Moreno, MGSpS and Obdulia Olivar, MGSpS of St. Michael Forest.
According to Joe Boland, vice president of mission for Catholic Extension, the funds are unrestricted and the process to request and receive funds is simple.

“If they’re engaged in some ministry that is serving the poor — or have access to the poor — they determine how the money will be spent,” Boland said. “They know the ones in their communities, they know the names, the faces, the families. They will be able to deliver it or organize it in such a way that support goes to those who have the greatest need.”
Sister Obdulia, working with Hispanic families in Scott County affected by the ICE raids of Aug. 2019 and now impacted by COVID-19, said “Families to help are many, it was not difficult to identify them. We know what families were impacted by COVID and which ones were in most need of [this] help.”
Boland said that the sisters may serve anywhere, not just the 87 U.S. dioceses in Catholic Extension’s territory. Funding is released as it is raised, and Catholic Extension continues to seek donations to underwrite the program.
The Diocese of Jackson has been blessed by the service of many orders of sisters over the years: The Congregation of the Sisters of St. Agnes, – CSA; Missionaries Guadalupanas of the Holy Spirit, MGSpS; School Sisters of Notre Dame, SSND; Sisters of Humility of Mary, CHM; Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, RSM; Daughters of Charity, DC; Sisters of Charity of Halifax, SC; Franciscan Sisters, OSF; Sisters of the Living Word, SLW; Order of Discalced Carmelite Nuns, OCD; Dominican Sisters of Springfield, OP; Congregation of the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, FSPA; Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, SCN School Sisters of St. Francis, Milwaukee, WI – OSF; Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, SNJM; Sisters of the Holy Spirit and Mary Immaculate, S.H.Sp.; Union of the Sisters of the Presentation of the BVM, PBVM; and Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, St. Louis Province – CSJ.
Since the program began in June, 378 sisters have received support from the Sisters on the Frontline grant program and another 622 have requested funds.
Sisters who have received funding are asked to report back to Catholic Extension as to how the funds were used. Catholic Extension will be sharing the sisters’ stories as they are received. To learn more or to donate, visit https://www.catholicextension.org/sisters-on-the-frontlines/.

Putting for a cause

MADISON – Father Aaron Williams and Dr. Andrew Abide wait to see if Phil Mansour sinks his put at the Lake Caroline golf course for the 2020 Bishop’s Cup Golf Scramble. Funds raised from the tournament and silent auction went to support the Catholic Foundation Grant Trust. Congratulations to the tournament winners. The BankFirst team of Marcus Mallory, Chase Frazure, Walker Brown and John Oller for came in first place. Second place (tied) was the Tico’s Steakhouse team of Tico Hoffman, Jack Hoffman, Father Gerry Hurley and Joe Beall. Also in second was the Campus Dining team of Michael Prince, Barry Planch, Steve Shirley and Jimmy Bailey. (Photo by Julia Williams)

Working within God’s providence

By Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.
JACKSON – Over the Labor Day holiday as I enjoyed the blessings of a long weekend, I mulled over the surge that occurred in unemployment due to COVID-19 over the past six months. At its peak, the furloughed were at the astronomical figure of 33%, a level not seen since the great depression in the 1930s. The present hardship and anxiety over the future that afflicts many families are heavy burdens. Fortunately, the unemployment figures have dropped back down below double digits; yet far too many are pushed to the edge or beyond. This free fall in the work force makes it crystal clear how essential work is as a vital component of what it means to be human, more than just a job.

Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz

With the advent of the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century the Church has taught extensively on the nature, dignity and necessity of work beginning with Leo XIII in Rerum Novarum, on the New Order of Things, right up to the present day with the exhortations of Pope Francis. In doing so, the church always returns to the biblical source in Genesis when God worked for six days on the progression of creation with rest following on the seventh. God then ordained that the crown of his creation, male and female, was to subdue the earth and exercise dominion over this amazing planet. (Genesis 1:28) However, this task is not a license to be high-handed or reckless. On the contrary in it is a matter of cultivating and caring for the magnificent garden that has been entrusted to us. (Genesis 2:15) The material world was not created by humankind but is bestowed upon us as a precious gift that the Creator placed under our responsibility. Therefore, all work can be a participation in and furtherance of the will of God and the gift of creation.

Within the perspective of faith, the fruits of our labor are for our own wellbeing, for those who depend on us, especially the family, for the common good, for a just society and for the glory of God. It is not just a job. The family, therefore, must rightfully be an essential agent of economic life, guided not solely by the market mentality but by the logic of sharing and solidarity among generations. Justice is the virtue that governs the social order, and the market must aim for a standard of living to maintain a family and to allow it to live decently. (Pius XI) The demand for justice precedes concern for profit. “Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice.” (Proverbs 16:8)

The leisure of Labor Day, an oxymoron of sorts, portrays the intricate web of life that God intends. Jesus a man of work, devoted most of his years on earth to manual labor at the carpenter’s bench. (John Paul II) In his teachings Jesus regularly refers to the reality of work to unfold the mystery of the Kingdom of God. He praises the faithful and prudent servant whom the Master finds hard at work at the duties entrusted to him (Mt 24:46), and condemns the behavior of the useless servant, who hides his talent in the ground. (Mt 25:14ff) He describes his own mission as that of working. “My father is working still, and I am working.” (Jn 5:17) His disciples are workers in the harvest of the Lord (Mt 9:37-38), and the laborer deserves his wage.” (Lk 10:7)

Work in the home or in the marketplace is an essential part of being human. The awareness that “the form of the world is passing away” (1Cor 7:31) is not an exoneration from being involved in work. (2Thes 3:7-15) No Christian, believing that he belongs to others and to God, has the right not to work and to live at the expense of others. All are charged by the Apostle Paul to make it a point of honor to work, to be dependent on nobody. (1Thes 4:12), and to practice a solidarity by sharing the fruits of their labors with those in need. (Eph 4:28) St. James defends the trampled rights of workers: “Behold the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the Lord of host.” (Jas 5:4)

Yet there needs to be balance. In his preaching, Jesus teaches man and woman not to be enslaved by work. Before all else they must be concerned about their souls. Gaining the whole world is not the purpose of life. (Mk 18:36) The treasures of earth are consumed, while those in heaven are imperishable. It is on these latter treasures that men and women must set their hearts. (Mt 6:19-21) For we look not to what is seen, but to what is unseen. For what is seen is transitory; what is unseen is eternal. (2Cor 4:18) This is the gift of Sabbath rest on the Lord’s Day, a time for healing, a time dedicated to God and others, cultivating relationships that allow humanity to set out on the path to the eternal Sabbath.

For many, the pandemic has incited a crisis and we hope that they can remain steady through the storm. For many more who are fine materially, yet restricted socially, we hope that the opportunity will not be lost to restore lasting balance in their lives within God’s creative providence.

Trabajando dentro de la providencia de Dios

Por Obispo Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.
Durante el día feriado del Día del Trabajo (Labor Day, en inglés) y mientras disfrutaba de las bendiciones de un fin de semana largo, reflexioné sobre el aumento del desempleo, que se produjo debido al COVID-19 durante los últimos seis meses. En su apogeo, los cesados estuvieron en la astronómica cifra de un 33%, un nivel no visto desde la gran depresión en la década de 1930. Las dificultades actuales y la ansiedad por el futuro, que afligen a muchas familias, son cargas pesadas. Afortunadamente, las cifras de desempleo han vuelto a caer por debajo de los dos dígitos; sin embargo, demasiados son empujados al límite o más allá. Esta caída libre en la fuerza laboral deja en claro cuán esencial es el trabajo como un componente vital de lo que significa ser humano, es más que un simple trabajo.

Obispo Joseph R. Kopacz

Desde el advenimiento de la Revolución Industrial en el siglo XIX, la Iglesia ha enseñado extensamente sobre la naturaleza, la dignidad y la necesidad del trabajo comenzando con León X111 en la Rerum Novarum, sobre el Nuevo Orden de las Cosas, hasta el día de hoy con las exhortaciones del Papa Francisco. Al hacerlo, la iglesia siempre regresa a la fuente bíblica, en Génesis, cuando Dios trabajó durante seis días en la progresión de la creación y el descanso que siguió el séptimo día. Entonces Dios ordenó que la corona, masculina y femenina, de su creación debía someter la tierra y ejercer dominio sobre este asombroso planeta. (Génesis 1:28.) Sin embargo, esta tarea no es una licencia para ser prepotente o imprudente. Al contrario, en ella se trata de cultivar y cuidar el magnífico jardín que nos ha sido confiado. (Génesis 2:15) El mundo material no fue creado por la humanidad, sino que nos fue otorgado como un regalo precioso que el Creador puso bajo nuestra responsabilidad. Por lo tanto, todo trabajo puede ser una participación y un avance de la voluntad de Dios y el don de la creación.

En la perspectiva de la fe, los frutos de nuestro trabajo son para nuestro propio bienestar, para quienes dependen de nosotros, especialmente nuestra familia, para el bien común, para una sociedad justa y para la gloria de Dios. No es solo un trabajo. La familia, por tanto, debe ser legítimamente un agente esencial de la vida económica, guiada no solo por la mentalidad de mercado sino por la lógica del compartir y la solidaridad entre generaciones. La justicia es la virtud que gobierna el orden social, y el mercado debe aspirar a un nivel de vida para mantener una familia y permitirle vivir decentemente. (Pío XI) La demanda de justicia precede a la preocupación por el lucro. “Vale más lo poco ganado honradamente, que lo mucho ganado en forma injusta.” (Proverbios 16:8)

El ocio del Día del Trabajo, una especie de contradicción, retrata la intrincada red de la vida que Dios quiere. Jesús, un hombre de trabajo, dedicó la mayor parte sus años en la tierra al trabajo manual en un banco de carpintero. (Juan Pablo II). En sus enseñanzas, Jesús se refiere regularmente a la realidad del trabajo para desvelar el misterio del Reino de Dios. Alaba al siervo fiel y prudente a quien el Maestro encuentra esforzándose en los deberes que se le encomiendan (Mt 24:46), y condena la conducta del siervo inútil, que esconde su talento en la tierra. (Mt 25:14ss) Describe su propia misión como la de trabajar. “Mi Padre siempre ha trabajado, y yo también trabajo.” (Jn 5:17) Sus discípulos son obreros en la mies del Señor (Mt 9: 37-38), y “pues el trabajador tiene derecho a su paga.” (Lc 10:7)

Trabajar en el hogar o en el mercado es una parte esencial del ser humano. La conciencia de que “este mundo que vemos ha de terminar.” (1Cor 7:31) no es una exoneración de estar involucrado en el trabajo. (2Tes 3:7-15) Ningún cristiano, creyendo que pertenece a otros y a Dios, tiene derecho a no trabajar y vivir a expensas de los demás. El apóstol Pablo les encarga a todos que sean un punto de honor trabajar, no depender de nadie. (1Ts 4:12), y practicar la solidaridad compartiendo los frutos de su trabajo con los necesitados. (Efesios 4:28) Santiago defiende los derechos pisoteados de los trabajadores: “El pago que no les dieron a los hombres que trabajaron en su cosecha, está clamando contra ustedes; y el Señor todopoderoso ha oído la reclamación de esos trabajadores.” (Santiago 5:4)

Sin embargo, debe haber un equilibrio. En su predicación, Jesús enseña al hombre y a la mujer a no ser esclavizados por el trabajo. Antes que nada, deben preocuparse por sus almas. Ganar el mundo entero no es el propósito de la vida. (Mc 18:36) Los tesoros de la tierra se consumen, mientras que los del cielo son imperecederos. Es en estos últimos tesoros que los hombres y mujeres deben poner su corazón. (Mt 6:19-21) Porque no miramos a lo que se ve, sino a lo que no se ve. Porque lo que se ve es transitorio; lo que no se ve es eterno. (2Cor 4:18) Este es el don del reposo sabático en el día del Señor, un tiempo de curación, un tiempo dedicado a Dios y a los demás, cultivando relaciones que permitan a la humanidad emprender el camino hacia el sábado eterno.

Para muchos, la pandemia ha provocado una crisis y esperamos que puedan mantenerse estables durante la tormenta. Para muchos más que están bien materialmente, pero restringidos socialmente, esperamos que no se pierda la oportunidad de restaurar el equilibrio duradero en sus vidas dentro de la providencia creativa de Dios.

Lack of respect for life, for nature have same root

By Cindy Wooden
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – A lack of respect for human life from conception to natural death and a lack of respect for the environment are both signs of a person claiming power over something that is not theirs to control, Pope Francis said.
“They are the same indifference, the same selfishness, the same greed, the same pride, the same claim to be the master and despot of the world that lead human beings on the one hand to destroy species and plunder natural resources and, on the other, to exploit poverty, to abuse the work of women and children, to overturn the laws of the nuclear family (and) to no longer respect the right to human life from conception to its natural end,” the pope said Sept. 3.
Pope Francis made his remarks in a speech written for a group of laypeople advising the French bishops’ conference on ways to promote and implement the teaching of “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home.”
The group, which included the actress Juliette Binoche, traveled to Rome by train as a carbon-saving alternative to traveling by plane.

Pope Francis meets with a group of clergy and laypeople advising the French bishops’ conference on ecological policies and on promoting the teaching in his encyclical, “Laudato Si’, On Care for Our Common Home” Sept. 3, 2020. The actress Juliette Binoche was part of the meeting in the library of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

The Vatican press office said the pope handed his prepared text to members of the group and then had an unscripted conversation with them, telling them that his own “ecological conversion” began in 2007 by listening to Brazilian bishops at the Latin American bishops’ meeting in Aparecida, Brazil.
At the time, “I understood nothing,” he said. But he began listening and studying and dialoguing with scientists and theologians. The result was “Laudato Si’,” the encyclical published in 2015.
Ecological concern is a Christian concern, he said.
“The Bible teaches us that the world was not born in of chaos or by accident but by a decision of God who called it – and always will call it – into existence out of love,” the pope said. “The universe is beautiful and good, and contemplating it allows us to glimpse the infinite beauty and goodness of its author.”
Christians have a moral obligation to respect the creation God has entrusted to them “as a garden to cultivate, protect, make grow according to its potential,” he said. “And if human beings have the right to make use of nature for their own needs, they cannot in anyway claim to be its owners or despots, but only administrators who must give an account of their use.”
Jesus taught his followers to live in harmony, with justice, in peace and recognizing others as brothers and sisters, the pope said. But “when one considers nature only as an object of profit and self-interest – a vision that consolidates the whim of the strongest – then harmony is shattered and serious inequality, injustice and suffering result.”