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January 2, 1998     The Message
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January 2, 1998

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L i' danuhry 2, 1998 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 5 Works of mercy By BISHOP GERALD A. GETTELFINGER  /lefphet Isaiah spoke strongly and vividly of me lae is the Advent prophet Imagine stains being leveled and can on tL . y sbemgfilledup L . travelers would not be slowed and troubled oy these insurmountable obsta 1 means fo- c es. Consider what it H0-- or captives to be freed and prisoners released. lWas his clarion call. ;,. lhe hoped-for Messiah of whom Isaiah prophe-  0rsd?ved" We are now celebrating the anniver- ..... birth. He, too, has given us reason to hope. f do what he has promised. We hope to be with here f r all eternity. Meanwhile, we mus(live our lives n earth Wd bI- : . e must be sicns of hooe for others hd?.We do that? TheCatechism of the Catholic recall h,,'"'resa the memories of man of us who ,  " vorporal an-' ' Y 'es a 1- u piritual Works of Mercy. It pro- F, son for those who have never h ard of the Vrall, t h _ e m. . ey are a guide to daily living. - signs of hope by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and impris- oned, and burying the dead. Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God .... (See also Items 1460, 1038 and 1969.) If you and I can be faithful to these simple man- dates, we will certainly be signs of hope to each other and, indeed, to all we meet. The prisoners at the Wabash Valley Correctional Institution at Carlisle have in their midst a sign of hope this Christmas. Father Robert Nemergut, one of our diocesan priests, has been given leave from a diocesan assignment to serve as full-time chaplain at the prison as an employee of the State of Indiana. I am most pleased. Ministry to these men is a serious responsibility that you and I share. We can be signs of hope for those have may have lost hope. Father Bob Father Kenneth Graehler, pastor of St. Mary's in Sullivan in whose parish the prison is located has been the sign of hope by his regular celebration of the Eucharist there along with his visits. I am most grate- ful to him for his pastoral care of the prisoners who are a special portion of his flock. As we approach the threshold of the third mil- lennium, the, spiritual and corporal works of mercy are a wonderful practical guide for families for daily living and blueprint for respectful care for each other. I know that so many young people are doing many works of mercy through their service projects in preparation for the Sacrament of Confrmation. Last Christmas, I was inspired by James Stiles, a young man from Vincennes who came with Father Bob Nemergut to the prison for Christmas Day Mass with the prisoners. During his high school years, which con- cluded last spring, James as a regular visitor at the prison as a member of theSt. V'mcent de Paul Society. I encourage all children, young people and adults around the dining room table to plan how the works of mercy can become a pattern for living at home, at school, at work, and during leisure time. Item #2447 The works will certainly be a daily sign of hope in his ministry These acts of charity are living signs of hope in the of mercy are charitable actions to all prisoners, world. Jesus has shown us the way. "S " " Urvey shows Americans revolved, often v,a rel,g, on Y lic CY HAR_TNAGEL Washington. At the press conference, Con- changing definition of commu- In what Swank said "may be Nuws Service During the last quarter of stance Swank, AARP research nity that breaks the boundaries a bit of an overstatement," 48 .uASHING,.... 1996, the Center for Survey director, said the survey exam- '' adult,_ .r (CNS)  Research at the University of the;.- ' are deeply involved Virinia conducted rand'ore- ! . . .... 0 . m,, aH,,_.'" Vedm .. P rted being bers. The survey has a sam- ....cOnnec'["tneactivity piing error of plus or minus tsiq ""emwi_ "de 0 ,- "th people 2 5 percent aid " meir h -,, " " W Jane Ba. Ousehold, With this research, Baum- tteer L Uragarten, AARP Izarten said, the association now III OOard member "-' e stl, ..... has evidence that neahve er- .. lltSthet_Y.tund that reli- ceptions of Americans as disin- dti0nal'e2Clmg type of orga- terested, disengaged and unin- 'ttlts a nVolvement for volved people are untrue. M'.th 61 PercCrss all age groups, She said the AARP, which Migi0 ent clmmm Usaff " " g some both encourages and rehes on --'%'a 'Mainta'G--tl'" ll'atin Anne ' volunteer efforts from its mem- 0t,, bri.-, g rica s bers, commissioned the survey : .Vivic Iav L neAARP Survev "to better understand how peo- allle utve m ,,  h,. stlad, ,._ ent, this first- pie view their communities and r'ss come,has released at a iaow people participate in activ- nce Dec. 18 in ities in their communities." ers mourn Catholics "K of un( standing: of E thoi  OX i believe the Eucharist s the bod News- . " " Y , oervce and blood of Christ. ined community involvement in five areas: Social involvement out- side the home. Community attachment and sense of belonging. -- Civic involvement as mea- sured by organizational mem- .berships and volunteering. -- Political involvement through voting, interest in pub- lic affairs and campaigns, and working with others to solve community problems. Trust in one another and trust in government at all levels. Swank said nearly 60 percent of respondents reported that community continues to be a place, while 39 percent notably younger respondents found community in informal groups and 34 percent in formal organizations "We may be looking at a Catholics' of derstanding of Eucharist ringfield also expressed con-  ()Re.,.... cern about polls that show that 1' tR'Mass. CNS -- In an age of rationalism, only half of all Catholics believe  a conference ) where most things can be the Eucharist contains thebody t 1=2." ',mr.,.,., .. on the explained by science and tech- and blood of Christ. , "K ,, .C "'u me a ar- ,,.  . pp nology, he said, "It is very diffi- "If true, it would certainly be lg of ,,- athohc under- cult for Catholics to believe that a serious indictment on the way [I Sacr ii, tedit t" . ament and a piece of unleavened bread can we are teaching our faith," he :2,edna.. u a failure of reli- contain the body and blood of said. "It's certainly a reason to ,;.,[ the  on. Christ." be concerned." i !  lef Crfference titled But the foundations of Chris- Father Alkiviadis." Calivas, !.%-' *nce of Ou-" -,, ll,2",s0r,, rora tianity are built on faith and professor of liturgy at Holy fe S las,,_. Y Assumption mystery and unless believers Cross Greek Orthodox Theo- ,re ',tUte for th.'Ch..Ma-'Steri,, 7 th.e Study can accept mystery of part of logical School in Brookline, pro- i--h m eaching of their faith, they will not be able vided an ecumenical response Father Groeschel's talk, to proceed peacefully with to r  rOesc- ger Father Bene- Christ, he added, which also discussed the simi- r o hel, ti-. f the _ a Franciscan Speaking to the medialater larities and difference between uIs , xel EW ttlal c eva and d,rec- hi,,"h"A, r "'.io "-upment tor that afternoon, Father Groeschel Catholic and Orthodox beliefs 1 ,t' Ces-. said most Catholics are severely about the Eucharist. .that t , is dish,,." of New York, uneducated when it comes to As for Catholics, the Eucharist !e,, '.,CCOrd( '' rteninl to h, ' th -t .... ear the Eucharist. is the center of church life for 'tar hal m media polls, As part of a panel discussion, the Orthodox, Father Calivas t  )f f:: ,i . all Catholics Bishop Thomas L. Dupre of said. of geography," she said. The survey showed 72 per- cent so attached to the commu- nity they live in they still want to be there in five years, said Swank. And 96 percent said they know at least one neighbor on a first-name basis, with 46 percent reporting they knowqO neighbors this well. One surprise in the research, she said, "was the extent to which Americans are joiners." The average person is affiliated with 4.2 different groups. The research also showed active members who read newsletters, attend meetings and serve on committees. Regarding the volunteer dimension of civic involvement, Swank said 44 percent had vol- unteered through organizations in the past year, while 86 per- cent said they helped others informally. As to their motivation, people said they volunteer to help oth- ers, make the community better, be with people they enjoy, work with people who share their ideals, learn about issues, do their duty as citizens and live out their religious commitment. In the area of trust, however, the picture was not so rosy, Swank said. When asked if most people can be trusted, respondents evenly split, with 47 percent saying yes and 46 percent saying "you just can't be too careful." "IN'hen it comes to govern- merit," she continued, "only three in 10 say you can trust national government to do what's right most of the time." Local govern- ment fared a little better, she added. Nonetheless, Americans believe they can make a difference, she continued, with about a third thinking they can influence local problems acting alone and 80 per- cent thinking they can do so by acting with others. percent of respondents said they "always vote in local elections." In looking for the key factors that nurture community attach- ment and involvement on social, cMc and political levels, Swank said two factors emerged again and again in the data. "The first is ligios:invoiVe- ment, specifically attending a place of worship regularly," she said. The second was newspa- per readership, with daily read- ership signaling more commu- nity involvement. Swank observed, "Religious organizations provide an arena, because of their social min- istries, that allows people to then carry out their motivation to engage in activities that help other people." The survey also found that the less people read newspa- pers, the more they distrust the national government, and the more they watch TV, the less they trust other people. According to the survey sum- mary, "For reasons unknown, Catholics have lower levels (of community attachment) than adherents to other faiths." In response to a question from Catholic News Service, Gretchen Straw, who helped design the study for the AARP's Research Division, said a reason for this might be that respondents who identified themselves as Catholics may not be the more active members in the church. "The other thing to remember with community attachment," she said, "is that it has some- thing to do with having put down roots, home ownership. And to the extent that some pop tion of the Catholic community may be an immigrant commu- nity, who's not quite as settled within a community, that may be in part what we're seeing. "But that's pure speculatkm," she added.