March 21, 2011 § 1 Comment
I was unaware of what fertile soil Catholicism has found in Japan, until reading about St. Maximilian Kolbe’s trip to the island nation for the purpose of founding a “City of the Immaculata”, called Mugenzai no Sono (Garden of the Immaculate). More than three hundred years after the martyrdom of the first Catholic (Franciscan) missionaries to Japan, three Franciscans, this time led by Friar Maximilian Kolbe, set out to try to bring Christ to Japan one more time, through Mary. The locals laughed when St. Max placed his monastery on the wrong side of the mountain- how unharmonious! They didn’t laugh after the atomic bombs fell, leaving the sheltered monastery undamaged. God’s provision of His mother’s “garden” was confirmation that the friars of Mugenzai no Sono were to be successful in their mission to spread the Gospel to the people of Japan.
So far I have had no word on how Japan’s City of the Immaculate has weathered the recent quake and tsunami, but it seems that no news is good news. With many Catholic missionaries in Japan, and Japanese converts joining the Church daily, this catastrophe can be an opportunity for all Catholics to pray for Japan, not only for those suffering the effects of the devastating tsunami, but for Catholic missionaries who have been serving the people of Japan for these many years. Prayers and charitable giving are most needed right now, and this season of Lent is the perfect time to make a sacrifice for the people of Japan. Catholic Charities, via Catholic Relief Services, are currently taking donations to be put to immediate use in Japan. So let’s continue to pray for Japan, and if the Spirit moves you, why not make a donation to Catholic Relief Services, too. Our brothers and sisters in Japan need us now, let us take the example of Kolbe and other Japanese missionaries, who risked life and limb to bring Christ to the Pacific. We might especially ask Our Lady of Akita for her prayers during this tumultuous time.
February 26, 2011 § Leave a comment
According to a Catholic News Service story, the Vatican has prevented the secretary-general of Caritas Internationalis, Lesley-Anne Knight, from seeking a second four-year term, denying her the “nihil obstat” necessary to seek another term. It doesn’t appear that the Church has anything in particular against Ms. Knight. Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, the Vatican’s charity promotion agency and its liaison with Caritas Internationalis, told reporters that the organization simply faces “new challenges” include revising the Caritas statutes, strengthening its Catholic identity and working more closely with the Vatican, challenges which they feel would be better faced by an individual other than Ms. Knight.
I hope Ms. Knight finds a fulfilling role in the organization, and that Caritas Internationalis continues to do Christ’s work in the world. Many years ago while living in Austin, Texas, there was a stretch of about two years where circumstances forced me to take advantage of the organization’s services. Caritas in Austin primarily runs a soup kitchen, which serves a hot meal to several hundred people, five or six days a week. I thank God for the charity shown by this organization, charity that their very name invokes, and which literally saved my life. Besides the soup kitchen, Caritas in Austin offered employment services, counseling, referrals to several different specialty agencies, and other services, many of which I took advantage of and am eternally grateful for.
The charity practiced by Catholics and the Church cannot be outdone by any other Christian organization. It is the catholic Church which is the largest organized force for good in this world, and the caring, selfless service of the many fine staff and volunteers at organizations like Caritas Internationalis not only provided me with life-saving help in my time of need, but also helped lead me to “swim the Tiber” so that I might be a part of such a wonderful Church. I pray that Caritas might continue to be such a blessing in the world, and that they might help lead more souls to Christ by their works in this world.