Originally published May 2008
Wake up calls.
Never cared much for them.
Mine came at 5:15 a.m. Back home – two time zones away – my family was fast asleep. My body was still on Mountain Time. I wasn’t just in another time zone; I was out of my comfort zone! In a word, this was “different.”
This particular day, however, was more than different; it was historic. For only the second time in history, a Pope would be visiting the White House….And I would have the good fortune to be in attendance.
Last fall I made my plans to attend Catholic Charities USA’s Annual Spring Meeting for Diocesan Directors which is a special gathering of my peers to explore innovative ways to address the problems facing our respective communities. Because the meeting is always held in our nation’s capitol, it also gives agency directors the opportunity to speak collectively to our legislators on Capitol Hill about one of the greatest moral threats to the Common Good: Poverty.
Shortly after I made my reservations, the Vatican announced the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI would be making his first apostolic visit to the United States. The visit would coincide with our gathering which created an instant buzz among my colleagues.
To be sure, the Pope did not disappoint.
The theme of the Holy Father’s visit to America has been, “Christ our Hope.” It’s become clear to even the casual observer that “Hope” is becoming a centerpiece of Benedict’s pontificate. His most recent encyclical, Spe Salvi, “Hope, Our Salvation,” specifically addresses the topic.
…And “Hope” is exactly what we need.
In our neighborhoods, cities, nation, and even on a global level there are causes for anxiety and despair. Escalating food and fuel prices are adversely affecting middle income families and devastating the working poor. Political conflict, war, and the state of the environment left for our children and grandchildren add to the collective heartburn we might be experiencing today.
Fortunately, as Americans we are blessed with so many freedoms and the capacity to take on these difficult matters. During his address at the White House, Pope Benedict remarked:
“Freedom is not only a gift, but also a summons to personal responsibility. Americans know this from experience….The preservation of freedom calls for the cultivation of virtue, self-discipline, sacrifice for the common good and a sense of responsibility to the less fortunate. It also demands the courage to engage in civic life….In a word, freedom is ever new. It is a challenge held out to each generation, and it must constantly be won over for the cause of good.”
Who is ready to take up that challenge? Fortunately, there are many! At Catholic Charities of Colorado Springs we take up this challenge every day. It’s embodied in our volunteers and employees who are…
… teachers providing English skills to our immigrants through our Family Immigration Services;
…church and civic groups feeding our hungry at the Marian House Soup Kitchen;
…trained couples offering a nurturing environment to newborn children through our Life Connections Program;
… workers in our Community Outreach Program helping our homebound with food and household items;
…volunteers in our Life Support Center sorting children’s clothes and baby food to young, struggling parents;
At Catholic Charities of Colorado Springs, our motto is “Providing Help. Creating Hope.” As an agency, I believe we are measuring up to that challenge. And there’s always room for others to join us!
In his encyclical, Spe Salvi, Pope Benedict declares, “The one who has hope lives differently.”
Consider his words.
Consider the possibilities.
And consider living a hope-filled life that shines a light for the least among us so that they too may have hope.
Thank you, Holy Father, for the wake-up call. I guess I don’t mind them so much anymore.