Why should Catholics care about…?
WORLD DAY OF PEACE: JAN. 1
In 1968, Pope St. Paul VI initiated Jan. 1 as a World Day of Peace. Then, as now, peace is something needed in our world. Jan. 1 is a fitting day as we plan for things in the new year. He wanted peace to be on the front of our minds as we look forward. I invite you to go to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website (www.usccb.org) and read about this year’s theme and add it to your New Year’s resolutions. Peace within ourselves, our families, communities, nation and world would be the best gift the New Year could bring. “Seek peace and pursue it” (1 Peter 3:11)!
Director, Franciscan Life Center Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls
POVERTY AWARENESS: THE ENTIRE MONTH OF JANUARY
Our Catholic faith calls us to live out a preferential option for the poor and vulnerable. This does not mean it is “optional” to care for them, but that we must opt to act for them and put them first. Recall Jesus’ own words in Matthew 25, “… whatever you did for one of these least ones, you did for me.” These words are not merely a suggestion but a necessary call to action. We must care for those in poverty and vulnerable situations, not only in charitable giving but also by fighting the root causes of poverty and speaking for the voiceless. Ultimately, caring for the poor and vulnerable stems from the reality that each of us is created in the image and likeness of God. This reality means that every person has inherent dignity and the right to life and to all things necessary to live a dignified life.
Rural life coordinator — western region, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Cloud
NATIONAL MIGRATION WEEK: JAN. 5-11 (IMMIGRATION SUNDAY, JAN. 5)
Our call to care for our immigrant brothers and sisters is founded in Catholic social teaching. More often than not, people are migrating to protect their lives and the lives of their families. God calls us to solidarity with our brothers and sisters and acting to sustain their life, dignity, family, community and individual rights. The 2000 U.S. bishops’ document Welcoming the Stranger Among Us: Unity in Diversity¸” challenges the Church to “become truly a sacrament of unity.” The call to solidarity can be summed up in Pope John Paul II’s message for World Migration Day 2000:
“The Church hears the suffering cry of all who are uprooted from their own land, of families forcefully separated, of those who, in the rapid changes of our day, are unable to find a stable home
anywhere. She senses the anguish of those without rights, without any security, at the mercy of every kind of exploitation, and she supports them in their unhappiness.”
Social concerns intern, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Cloud
THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD: JAN. 12
When reflecting on the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River by his cousin, John the Baptist, it seems confusing. Why would Jesus be baptized since he had no sin, original or otherwise? Jesus’ baptism must have occurred for a different reason. Well, it turns out that the answer appears in what happened after the actual baptism. The Gospels tell us that after he came up out of the water, the Holy Spirit descended upon him like a dove, and the voice of his Father audibly spoke. The Trinity is clearly present in this moment. And as Jesus’ baptism called, empowered and sent him into his public ministry, we are also called, empowered and sent by the Trinity into our life of discipleship through baptism.
Director of the diocesan Office of Marriage and Family
WEEK OF CHRISTIAN UNITY: JAN. 18-25
Why is ecumenism of any interest to a Catholic? The 16th century brought tragic divisions between Christians. We still suffer the consequences. Someone in my parish once uttered a fervent prayer specifically against ecumenism! But what does the Lord want of us? Now many years after the Reformation, we now welcome efforts and prayer for unity as our small way to answer Our Lord’s own prayer, uttered on the eve of his death, “that all may be one.” While recognizing that there are still things that divide us, we now praise God for what unites us. Ecumenism is not optional.
FRANCISCAN SISTER HELEN ROLFSON
Member of the St. Cloud Diocesan Ecumenical Council
MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY: JAN. 20
Catholics should pay attention to Martin Luther King Day because this day is a celebration of the values that we all should be aiming to promote among our brothers and sisters. This day helps to promote the idea of creating a world in which the dignity of every human life is upheld and respected. It promotes interfaith cooperation based on our similar belief in unconditional love for all human beings. Martin Luther King Day is a day for us to reflect on our Catholic beliefs and think how we can actively strive to make a better life, free of fear for all our neighbors, especially those not treated with their inherent dignity. The national holiday is also officially a “Day of Service.” As Catholics we know that Christ came not to be served, but to serve (Matthew 20:28) and calls each of us to do likewise (John 13:14-17). Catholics should care deeply about Martin Luther King Day because it is a day in which we are invited to reflect on values that are core to our faith and life of discipleship, and how we can put those Catholic values into action.
Immigrant community organizer, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Cloud
DAY OF PRAYER FOR THE UNBORN: JAN. 22
As we all may have heard, our treatment of the vulnerable and helpless truly reflects who we are as individuals and as a society. Unborn children are certainly among the most vulnerable and helpless. As we pray for the unborn, in a sense, we are really also praying for ourselves, our culture and our world. We are praying that we would not view others as objects or burdens. We are praying that we would show God’s mercy to those who are at our mercy. In a world that seems to view life as disposable, we pray that unborn life would be seen as a helpless and vulnerable precious gift
Director of the diocesan Office of Marriage and Family