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March 13, 1998     The Message
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March 13, 1998

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana R Check-up time By BISHOP GERALD A. GETTELFINGER pleting the second full week of Lent. ad a chance to experience our person- dietary rules prescribed by the of our need for self-control. Did and abstain from meat on Ash e you abstained from meat these of Lent is just around the corner. It renew out: will not only in the practice but also our will to reach out to others. uutsie" one's own needs and concerns is takes lots of practice since our nat- is to consider self first, and only ege to celebrate two Masses on Lent began for me with Mass at Wednesday at Holy Trinity Pro-cathe- the full church came forward to children and infants in the arms he evening the Catholic students Evansville gathered at Neu 5:30 p.m. They too, one by one, receive ashes to be reminded of their to be challenged to live the teachings of and as witness to the Gospel, having turned away from.the sin in their lives. In preparing my homily for the students I recalled my 12 Lenten seasons as a student at St. Meinrad seminary. In my homily I shared with the university students the Benedictine practice of the "bona opera," "good works." Here's how that prac- tice was done in my years inthe seminary. The spiritual director reminded each seminarian before Ash Wednesday to decide on two or three "good works" which he was committed to pursue throughout Lent. The guidance he gave was clear: make resolutions that are do-able, measurable, and few, i.e. no more than three. In other words to write that "I'm going to be a better seminarian" might be do-able, but how would you know you are success- ful? Be clear and concrete. They did not have to be of a "spiritual" nature. The other critical element about the "bona opera" was accountability. Since they were so personal, who was going to hold us accountable? Who will know, other than myself, if I am being faithful? In a Benedic- tine Monastery, monks are held accountable by the abbot. There was no question about who, beyond ourselves, would hold us accountable--at least the Archabbot would know what we were about. On Ash Wednesday each of us approached the Archabbot to receive ashes. We bore in our folded' hands our precious cargo. Our "lenten bona opera" were prepared accordingto direction and properly folded since the Archabbot personally would receive them--and he alone--would see th6m. It was about this time of the Lenten season, we would receive back our "bona opera" from the Arch- abbot. The form came with his blessing and signa- ture--and once in awhile an additional affirming comment. My ability to write this forum "print ready" is a direct result of my resolution for my "bona opera" as a junior in high school, Lent 1952. I wrote that I would spend one-half hour a day during free time at my own typewriter (the seminary did not provide them) to learn the 'touch method' of typing. (It w/as the only time I received an additional comment from the Archabbot. "Good choice!" he wrote.) As I told the students at University of Evansville, I suggest that they share their good work or works with one other person. Tell her or him, parent, spouse, child or other what you are about, so that periodically you can do a check-up. Accountability is so personal and so immediate. Accountability to God is not a problem. Accountability to ourselves in the presence of our own number is more challenging and immediate. If you have not done so, you will find it helpful--maybe painful. By the way, remember the measures. Are your good works do-able? Can you measure success? Who beyond you knows them? It's a good time to check on your successes and failures. Lent's midpoint is a time for renewal. God will certainly bless your efforts. joy comes to people living 'Good Friday lives' Lent, "Good Fri- m our lives others __ often We think, per- recent death of a a middle-aged Whose company CLARENCE 2HTI :R *is expendable, a who is fac- And because . vision must embrace think also of vii- Who hunger for in life; of I Who are in need Who are search- for the faith, that Our lives. of such sadness , We ask ourselves: do? How can I ?" Perhaps Leonito asked himself that very question. In a section of Manila in the Philippines, men, women and children sort through the local dump, through food and garbage, through paper and glass, to gather materials to sell for a small living. Leonito, who used to be among those search- ing through the trash, says, "Father Ben showed us that we can help ourselves." Father Ben asked him to work in the parish with him; Leonito says he can make the lives of the people "more valuable" by teaching them to love and help one another, as Jesus taught us to do. At noon, he makes his way to the old church where he and others offer their prayers, thanking God and asking his continuing help: At the time this story was first told, more than 200 people had found jobs in one of the cooper- atives established by the parish, making clothing or soap, for example; and "in six months," Leonito said, "we will be able to provide work for bread for more than 1,000 people." Faced with seeming hopeless- ness--a daily "Good Friday"-- those who serve the Church in this part of Manila, and in so many areas of the world, see their way, in faith, to the Resur- rection. In the Diocese of Gulu, Ugan- da, the people have lived in the midst of war for the past 11 years. "We deal with material rehabilitation and spiritual rehabilitation," Gulu's Bishop Martin Luluga wrote recently to the Propagation of the Faith. If a rectory is destroyed or a con- vent burned, the necessary repair work must be done, he says, so that the priests and sis- ters can stay near or with their people. In schools, the sisters are involved in religious educa- tion and prepare children for First Communion. In the hospi- tals, they help the sick "in all possible ways." Imagine the joy of the people, long ravaged by war, to experience the nearness, the love, the healing of Christ. In the Diocese of Tura, India, sisters teach, maintain a small dispensary, or care for people who are disabled. Brothers care for children who cannot see, or who cannot hear. Priests travel from village to village to visit the people, to speak the Word of God among them, instruct them in the faith, and administer the sacraments. Spending one or two days in a village, the priests stay with the people and share their food, even as they them- selves share the Bread of Life with the villagers. Each parish has catechists, all giving of themselves to keep the people firm in faith. Imagine how the people's spirits soar as their children learn, their poor are cared for, the faith deep- ened. In an outlying area of Cape Town, South Africa, many squatters live in poverty. Sever- al priests serve among them. One, a missionary from Ireland, lives right there, in a converted container. "He makes do with" what he can get and never com- plains," Archbishop Lawrence clo you support someone who has lost hope? this week's Faith St. John the Bap- WbUrgh, asked, Edvis or support who is suf- hope?,, FoUowing is advise finds themselves the scripture COmes to mind. God and near to you." to God? close to spend time with his Father in prayer. I would offer the same advice to a person who was suf- fering from hopelessness. Pour- ing our hearts out to our loving heavenly Father and then listen- ing for his guidance and direc- tion can bring a sense of peace and love which can lead to hope. Our Lord also asked his clos- est friends to pray with him. Asking other to pray can help ease the burden. This also lets others know that you have a n,d. A solution to the situation causing the hopelessness could yas at one of his be forthcoming from one of these aa the Garden of sources. ,He -Withdrew to. I .would also. advise .a person to spend time in God's word. There are so many stories in the Bible of people who were strug- gling with seemingly hopeless situations. Seeing how God worked in their lives can offer much encouragement. Praising God in the psalms and reading his promises for those who are faithful can be so uplifting. Attending Mass and focusing on Jesus' great sacrifice to restore us to relationship with our heavenly Father should offer the greatest source of hope. Taking advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation would allow a person to expe- rience God's loving forgiveness and begin with a clean heart. I would also advkse this person to pray the rosary. We have a great advocate and intercessor in our heavenly Mother. Think of the hopelessness she must have felt standing at the foot of the Cross just after her Son had dit.l. Lastly, I would advise one who was feeling hopelcss to look for another person with a need. By reaching out to help someone ehe, the hopeless person could avoid the trap of falling into lf- pity, while also feeling good about themselves becau they hellxKl someone in need. Carol Niehaus Newburgh Henry says and adds, "For me, the great consolation is that the Church is present to these com- munities." Imagine the Resur- rection joy of people who have a priest from thousands of miles a way: sharing lthea*t/:..(in,:.:..,;:! container[), and sharing with ...... them the message of eternal life. What a difference they make: priests, sisters, brothers, cate- chists. , This Lent you can make a dif- ference too. Supported by your prayers and your Lenten sacri- fice through the Propagation of the Faith, stories like these can be repeated throughout the world  stories of hope, the hope offered and found only in Jesus Christ. Perhaps you can offer $40 $1 a day for each day of Lent. Maybe you could send $10 or $50 or $100. Could you possibly offer $200, $5 a day for each day of Lent, or even more? Your sac- rificewhatever it can beis very much needed and F'F rec;- ated. As Bishop Luluga of Gulu says, "We pray for our donors always." By your prayers, your special Lenten financial sacrifice and the daily offering to God of your burdens in union with the sufferings of Christ, you can make a world of difference as you help people leading "Good Friday" lives to find Easter joy and lope. Washington Continued from page 4 outdoo in the hot sun during the day and slept on the ground at night. According to Brother Sul- mas; when fasting on water onI); a healthy person typically can go about 30 days before the body runs out of fats and ix-gins to break down muscle.