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February 21, 1997     The Message
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February 21, 1997

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4 The Message u for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana -- Taking the time to make a difference -- " . i.ent is for the body and the soul Some would have said the lit- tle girl was misbehaving in church. They would have been wrong. The little girl's family was some distance in front of me, and I really wasn't watching closely. I couldn't help but notice, though, that the little girl had gotten up to walk along the church pew to see her sister. It was Ash Wednesday, and all of us in the church had just returned from receiving ashes on our foreheads. The ritual blessing had made quite an impact on the little girl, it was quite obvious, By PAUL P,. LEINGANG EDITOR I couldn't help but think about that Ash Wednesday blessing, and its power over a child. I'm far from my own childhood, but I can imagine what might have gone through her mind. Perhaps her parents had sometimes chided her for having a dirty face -- and here was a priest -- imagine that, not just a grown-up, but a priest sticking his thumb in a bowlful of dirty, smudgy stuff, and rubbing it on people's heads! I remember clearly my own reaction, not too long ago, when I witnessed Bishop Gettelfinger dedi- There she was, standing up in front of her little cate a new church building. The church interior was sister, who was also standing. And she was waving clean and new, and the white plaster of the walls her hand, with thumb extended, in front of her little gleaned with pristine purity. Along came the bishop, sister's face. She must have done that eight or 10 times, in large, sweeping motions. ! I don't know if anyone in the church was dis- tracted by the children. I certain hope not. Far from being distracted, I felt I had experienced a moment i i of grace. A child was repeating a blessing. A child was I captivated by the ritual action. This lesson needed no words of explanation, no commentary, no inter- ruption. The blessing itself had somehow communi- cated meaning beyond all words. * * $ with his hand dripping with oil, who smeared the wall with that oil in the sign of the cross. Grown-ups gasped, but I bet the children understood. My memories of Lent, the most vivid ones, are the memories of ashes on people's faces, wooden "clappers" used instead of bells, and palms that morn showed us how to braid. I remember the choir singing, while the organ stayed quiet until Easter. All of these are things a kid could see and feel and hear and touch. I'm sure there was a bit of puzzling wonder- ment, too, at the fact that even a priest -- got to play with fire. incense and watching the smoke ceiling -- these too, were part of my ence. Today, as I reflect on childhood, I have to admit I can not tent of a single sermon spoken. * * Talk with your family or est memories of their or rituals or actions come to your : Some people remember chi tending, of "playing Mass" or with others about their play-life * * Take the time today to make something to feel and see and touch, something to think about. Find an opportunity to help rience the signs and symbols of tradition. Explore the methods of prayer and other faith traditions. If your tradition involves for Lent, find another person in who needs what you can give. Comments about this column are or the Christian Family P.O. Box 272, Ames, Iowa 50010. ------Washington The Clinton budget: Poor children, immigrants in-line for By PATRICIA ZAPOR Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS)-- Poor children and immigrants are in line for federal funding increases under President Clinton's 1998 budget, which has Sharon Daly feeling more optimistic than she has for several years. "I think I've taken off my mourning," joked Daly, deputy to the president of Catholic Chari- ties USA, about the prospects for better treatment for the poor in this year's federal budget. The MESSAGE 4200 N. Kentucky Ave. Evansville, IN 4771! Weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Evansvitle 4 Published weekly except last week in December by the Catholic Press of Evansville Punisher ............. Bi3o9 Gerald A. Gettelfinger Editor ...................................... Paul R. Leinng Production Technician .............. .J Drich Ao'versmg ................................... Paul Newland Staff Writer ............................ Mary Ann Hughes Address all communications to P.O. Box 4169, Evanslle, IN 47724-0169 Subscription rate: $17.50 per year Single Copy Price: $,50 Ented as penodca mawr at the post office in Evans'e, IN 47701. Puk;ak r 8438{}0. Postmaster: Return PO0 ms 3579 to Office of PutV'.on Copyrt 19o Cac Press of Evansvilte i There are areas of the budget that worry her, as does the pos- sibility that Congress will undo what Catholic Charities supports in the administration's proposal. But she believes the process is starting from a better point than it has for several years and the early less-than-hostile reception for the budget in Congress is somewhat encouraging. Also winning some praise from religious and charitable organizations with interests in social services were Clinton's proposal for a five-year, $18.4 billion children's health initia- tive and a boost in foreign aid spending. Catholic Charities USA, the U.S. church's domestic social services agency, was among organizations fighting in Con- gress as the welfare bill made legal immigrants ineligible or raised eligibility standards for food stamps, Supplemental Security Income and other ben- efits to cut program costs. Their arguments included that charitable organizations would be unable to pick up all the slack when tens of thou- sands of people suddenly lost principal sources of income for reasons unrelated to "abuse" of the welfare system. Clinton's budget proposal released Feb. 6 includes an extra $137 million for the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program, and an extra $1 billion for food stamp progrmns to restore some benefits to legal immigrants cut by the welfare bill. Another $13.7 billion would go to restore SSI benefits to legal immigrants who become disabled after they come to the United States. "The good news is that the bud- get has put money back in to restore some of the benefits to some legal immigrants," said Daly. "We would like it to go far- ther, but this is on the right track. "We like the proposals to restore the food stamp cuts and we hope the president will real- ly fight for them, because Con- gress is going to be resistent," she continued. "And we're real happy with the big increase in the WIC budget." WIC provides nutritious food for pregnant women and young children. Under the administra- tion's proposal, WIC would have funding for all eligible families within two years. Although many details need to be worked out, the congressional leadership has not rejected Clin- ton's budget out of hand, Daly said. While on the surface that might leave room for optimism about social spending increases surviving, she still worries. "It's never good for poor peo- ple when (the president and Congress) get along," she said. "That means they're not talking about something." The Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, said in a statement he welcomed the relaxed restrictions on who may receive food stamps in Clin- ton's proposal, but that the budget restores too little o.f the $27 billion cut in last year's welfare bill. "Those who are willing to work but unable'to find a job are now much less likely to be penalized with a cutoff of food stamp bene- fits," he said. Emergency food programs already are seeing increased demand from people whose ben- efits are disappearing, according to Rev. Beckmann. "Private char- ities, while important, do not have the resources to address the severity of hunger in the United States," he said. "The nation's nutrition safety net should not be sacrificed to budget pressures." There were disappointments in Clinton's budget for Daly. Among them, "it didn't do any- thing about really creating jobs for people." Daly also is concerned about per-capita limits on Medicare pending. and the, budget's fifil- ure to include more than a one- year extension of funding for subsidized housing for the poor. "That'means they haven't fig- ured out what to do with it long- term yet," she said. "I certainly hope it will be a high priority for (Housing and Urban Development) Secretary (Andrew) Cuomo." The Catholic Health Associa- threatens the tary denial ment, or As for national U.S. Catholic of Inte Peace, said the $1 billion tion, in a legislative update, crit- icized Clinton's proposal to cut Medicaid expenditures by reduc- ing per-patient reimbursement, despite plans to spend $18.4 bil- lion of the savings over five years on health care for children. And a statement from the National Right to Life Commit- tee suggested that plans to cut Medicare reimbursement and boost monthly premiums could lead to rationing health care. "The private market alterna- tives in the Clinton proposal deny seniors the choice of'unmanaged' fee-for-service plans," said a statement from Burke J. Balch, director of medical ethics for National Right to Life Commit- tee. "Limiting the health insur- ance choices of older Americans Department foreign She assistance to the uSC about $1.69 trillion $1 billion is piece of the big difference. receive international the im Saharan Africa. Kohnen also happy with the plan to United dues country has as $921 million. Bishop's The following activities and events ule of Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger: Vacation, Feb. 21- 28 Confirmation, Mary, Hell . -T. ah Hill, saturday, March I, 6 pm; Es2: Ma Bo Sunday, March 2, 10 a.m. EST Confirmation, St. Mary day. March 2, 2 p.m. EST. Meeting, Btshopt/Maj Monday, March 3, 9 a.m. EST. Confirmation, St, Joseph, day, March 4, 7 p.m. CST. Priests' Council, Agends Conference Room, USCC Commission on tation meeting, New Orleans. March