Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Midlands Holy Family Fund

I help out publishing the newsletter for the subject organization. The Midlands Holy Family Fund (MHFF) was established to assist families (especially Catholic families in the local community) in a temporary financial crisis. It is local to the Columbia area. Someone loses a job, gets a debilitating disease, etc. the MHFF is there to tide them over while they figure out how to adjust to the new situation. (A lot of organizations won't help you until you are almost destitute. MHFF tries to step in before this so that finances don't cause an additional disruption to family life during the greater crisis.)

MHFF was started a few years ago when the father of 11 children was diagnosed with MS. His health deterioration was accelerated by the active nature of his job-he was no desk jockey. The family 'developed' large medical bills and he soon had to retire as a relatively young man. MHFF was formed to provide a conduit for people in the community to support this family until they could again support themselves (and other families like them). The idea is that if all (many) families give just a little on a monthly basis, a monthly stipend can be used to support the family in need. (In writing the cover article this time for the newsletter, Benedict's first encyclical and the description of the early Christian communities in Acts kept popping up.)

The concept has worked pretty well so far. That first family is almost out of the woods (father has retired, disability has started to kick in, and mom has finished going back to school and working part time in the medical field.) Other families have received temporary help also.

I give all this as way of introduction. Following is the draft for the cover article in this quarter's newsletter. I post it here, not because the article is profound-in fact my contribution is simply garnish around the main dish: the quote from Deus Caritas Est. In final form the quote will probably be reduced and the garnish enhanced-however maybe this shouldn't be the case: The Pope has more to say about charity than I do.

Anyway, here it is:

In his historic first encyclical, Pope Benedict XVI defines for us what Christian charity is and how the early Church responded:

Love of neighbour, grounded in the love of God, is first and foremost a responsibility for each individual member of the faithful, but it is also a responsibility for the entire ecclesial community at every level: from the local community to the particular Church and to the Church universal in its entirety. As a community, the Church must practise love. Love thus needs to be organized if it is to be an ordered service to the community. The awareness of this responsibility has had a constitutive relevance in the Church from the beginning: “All who believed were together and had all things in common; and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need” (Acts 2:44-5). In these words, Saint Luke provides a kind of definition of the Church, whose constitutive elements include fidelity to the “teaching of the Apostles”, “communion” (koinonia), “the breaking of the bread” and “prayer” (cf. Acts 2:42). The element of “communion” (koinonia) is not initially defined, but appears concretely in the verses quoted above: it consists in the fact that believers hold all things in common and that among them, there is no longer any distinction between rich and poor (cf. also Acts 4:32-37). As the Church grew, this radical form of material communion could not in fact be preserved. But its essential core remained: within the community of believers there can never be room for a poverty that denies anyone what is needed for a dignified life.
(-Deus Caritas Est No. 20)

In fact, this account from the Acts which our Holy Father references above is the inspiration for the existence of the Midlands Holy Family Fund: that we share our goods so that in our community (and especially for our mission to families) there is never “room for a poverty that denies anyone what is needed for a dignified life.”

We thank you again for your support of MHFF-especially our plea in the last newsletter. You have come with your goods in service to the community. ...

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