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Urban Impressions of the Stations of the Cross

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Profiles in Mercy: Give Drink to the Thirsty

Of all the places to have a crisis of drinking water, a city surrounded by one-fifth of the world's fresh, surface level drinking water seems it would be last on the list. However, as national and even international media has covered, there is such a crisis in Flint. A multitude of issues converged leaving an already decimated community without safe drinking water and a health crisis particularly affecting children.

Knowing what to do, both in the short term and long term, is a difficult situation. How do you provide water to homes, schools, business, shelters? How do you plan for the health issues that develop later in life due to lead poisoning?

Catholic Charities of Shiawassee and Genesee Counties, just like in the Chicago area, has a long standing presence in Flint. Much like the Catholic Charities work we know here in our city, people find a multitude of resources and assistance through the many programs and resources it offers.

However, it is now facing the additional challenges of providing these services in the midst of the water crisis. Their shelters and soup kitchens need the bottled water as much as their clients do. They are trying to meet the ever increasing needs of the community while addressing their new expenses and concerns due to the water issue. You can read more about their work on this page.

Please add the people of Flint and Catholic Charities to your prayers.

Continue learning more about how the Catholic community is responding by exploring the Faith in Flint organization sponsored by the Diocese of Lansing. There's also an article in Faith Magazine you may want to read. Ron Landfair, Coordinator of the Faith in Flint effort recently published this article in America Magazine

Monday, May 30, 2016

Mercy & Media: The Grapes of Wrath

When I first learned that I wasn’t supposed to like John Steinbeck, I was twelve years old. It was one of my favorite people in the world (an older friend whom, to this day, I still admire for taking my preteen-self seriously) who told me that his characters were too saintly to be believed. “The way he writes women is ridiculous,” she said, exasperated. “I mean, who acts like that?” 

Though she didn’t name a character whose actions she found particularly inexplicable, in retrospect, I can only assume that she was referring to Rose of Sharon Joad. When it comes to criticizing Steinbeck’s portrayal of women, the eldest daughter from The Grapes of Wrath is one of the first examples that people raise. In all fairness, it’s no surprise why. Her act of mercy at the end of the novel—allowing a starving man to drink from her breasts—isn’t exactly subtle. The moment seems even more dramatic when it’s contrasted against everything she lost beforehand. During the course of her move from the Dust Bowl of Oklahoma to the groves of California (which is no easy feat in the 1930s), she loses her home (which is foreclosed upon), her husband (who abandons her just before they reach the labor camps), her older brother (who has to flee from authorities after a labor strike gone awry), and her baby (who is stillborn). If you’re the sort of person who doesn’t believe that any real-life woman would be capable of such an act, it’s easy to understand why you’d find Rose of Sharon implausible. Not only does she allow a stranger access to such an intimate part of her, but she does so after her entire life has been dismantled. 

I wasn’t Catholic when I first heard these criticisms of Steinbeck. If I had been, I might’ve pushed back against the notion that saintly behavior from someone as deprived as Rose of Sharon Joad is “unrealistic.” Today, I would say that it’s indicative of some awfully narrow-minded ideas about humanity. 

The beauty of mercy is that even a girl whose entire life has been defined by drought is capable of giving drink to the thirsty. No matter how helpless someone might seem, there’s always something they can give to others—a gesture they can perform that will bring comfort to their neighbors, and remind them of the inherent value of life. To call Rose of Sharon’s charity unrealistic is to miss the point that Steinbeck is trying to make. It’s through pushing past our ideas about ourselves that we make the world a better place, and move closer to the kingdom of heaven.

Teresa de Mallorca is the pseudonym of a neophyte who just completed the RCIA program at Holy Name

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Season of Mercy - Give Drink to the Thirsty

We’ve all felt thirst. We’ve had those moments when our throats were dry and uncomfortable, when all we wanted was a cool drink of water. Whether it was after a long run, a great summer day in the sun, during an illness, or a lengthy presentation at work, we all know what thirst feels like. I suspect it was quite simple for you to find a refreshing, cool beverage in those moments. You likely just had to turn on the tap, open the fridge, or catch the attention of the restaurant server. In a matter of moments, your thirst was gone and you were content.

Many in the world are without these conveniences. Many have no access to running, clean, drinking water. Many have neither the funds nor the access to purchase any sort of beverage. Many know that the water they have access to is dangerous, even life-threatening, but have no other choice so they make due. The numbers are rather staggering. 663 million people do not have access to safe water; 1 in 10 people globally. One-third of all schools globally lack access to safe water (1)

Thirst is something far more common than it should be. 

People suffer from thirst who we find on the street and in the subway stations. With the heat of summer descending, they often lack access to water or other healthy beverage options.

People suffer from thirst in Flint, Michigan, due to the water crisis there. As someone who used to live in that area, those are people I know. Those I people I worshiped with at Mass.

People suffer from thirst in the garbage dump communities that scatter the globe. Having seen the shacks and tragically unsanitary conditions in these urban slums, it is heartbreaking to see families suffering the effects of drinking contaminated water and lacking proper sewer function.

People suffer from thirst in drought stricken areas and farmlands affected by climate change. I have been asked by a passion fruit and coffee farmer, “Can you help us? We no longer get enough rain. We can’t afford the more complicated irrigation systems to replace the ones we have that no longer help enough. Do you know what we can do?”

Water is so basic a need for each of us. The corporeal work of mercy, giving drink to the thirsty, is equally fundamental. Join us this week as we examine more closely how you can offer drink to the thirsty in your daily life and in extraordinary ways. 
  • When have you been thirsty? Is there a time when you needed someone’s help to quench your thirst? How did it feel to be dependent on another for help? How did you feel towards that person?
  • Take notice today of what you drink, when you drink it, and with whom you drink it. Offer a prayer of thanks for each beverage you enjoy today.
Jennifer Delvaux

One Word at a Time - Repent

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Saturdays during the Season of Mercy - Pew to Pilgrim

This is it. The week is drawing to a close and you've heard all about that week's work of mercy.

The word “pilgrim,” comes from the Latin word peregrinus (foreigner, traveler), meaning a person who journeys to a sacred place for religious reasons. Rather than aimless wandering, this is a journey with purpose to honor God. 

Becoming a pilgrim is a process of learning, preparing, getting started and persevering. Think of the journey to becoming a marathon runner. You cannot just jump from your couch to run a marathon or even a 5k. It’s a gentle introduction to get started followed by small distances and building up over time.

Over the 14 weeks of our Season of Mercy, we will provide information to reflect upon what each act of mercy means in our world today. We will also give you a variety of Pilgrim Practices for you to perform each Act of Mercy for others in spiritual or material need. 

Depending on where you are in your journey, you may want to engage as a Novice, an Intermediate or an Experienced Pilgrim. The important thing is to reflect and pray, be mindful and open to exploring new ways to grow as a Disciple of Christ.

After all, as Archbishop Cupich reminded us at the opening of the Holy Door on December 13, 2015, the door is not only an entrance to the church, but the way that we go forth to share the great mercy and love of God with the world. Get out of that pew and go forth to the world, as a pilgrim of faith, living lives of mercy and joy!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Fridays during the Season of Mercy

Fridays will be a bit of a free for all. Come for different content each week. This is a great chance to see tidbits, photos, facts, and more relating to that week's work of mercy. Have something to share on the work? Make use of the comments section during that week's post.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Thursdays during the Season of Mercy - TBT

You didn't think we would forget about the classic Throwback Thursday? On Thursdays during the Season of Mercy, find a bit of wisdom from the women and men of faith, courage, and great mercy. Have another favorite quote regarding that week's work of mercy? Thursday is a great day to share it with others in the comments section!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Wednesdays during the Season of Mercy - Passages & Prayers

With Wednesdays we will offer you Passages and Prayers during the Season of Mercy. Check the site each Wednesday to find a scripture passage, reflection, and prayer that will offer insight, spiritual sustenance, and the challenge to see mercy through a different lens. We encourage you to share your thoughts on the day's post.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Tuesdays during the Season of Mercy - Profiles in Mercy

On Tuesdays during the Season of Mercy we will switch gears and focus on the people and organizations living the week's work of mercy. Find stories of parishioners and organizations who manifest the work of mercy in their lives and mission. You are also invited to share in the comments each week others you see as living that work of mercy in their lives or mission.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Mondays during the Season of Mercy - Media & Mercy

Mondays during the Season of Mercy are the chance to see where the works of mercy intertwine with our culture. You'll be surprised where mercy intertwines with the media in our lives. From classic works of literature to popular video games to summer movie blockbusters check this site on Mondays to see where Media and Mercy intertwine.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sundays during the Season of Mercy - The Works of Mercy

Sundays during the Season of Mercy will off you an introduction to each of the fourteen works of mercy. You'll find a reflection on that week's spiritual or corporal work of mercy written by a variety of individuals.

Sundays will be your introduction to the week, offering you a bit of reflection and inspiration in less time than it takes to drink your morning cup of coffee before Mass.

One Word at a Time - Witness

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Season of Mercy

Beginning on May 29th you will find daily posts revolving around the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Join us each week for:

  • Reflections on the works of mercy
  • Mercy & Media
  • Profiles in Mercy
  • Prayers & Passages
  • and more!
Keep an eye on the Holy Name Cathedral social media channels for content and the opportunity to share your stories and photos!

A Season of Mercy is coming this summer. Are you ready?

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

A Season of Mercy

Coming this summer—
Season of Mercy

Each week from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend we are challenging you to enter into a Season of Mercy. Learn, reflect, and act on the call to live the works of mercy. Daily web content will be offered here.

Watch for more details. Bookmark this website. A Season of Mercy is coming.