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The Message
Evansville, Indiana
December 25, 1987     The Message
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December 25, 1987

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"W -' -I ................................ Faith Today Supplement, The Message, Catholic Diocese of Evansville, December 25, 1987 [ B / I |1 o be Christian means to continue to become Christian..:. To be a Christian means to become one every day." (Pope John Paul I/ in San Francisco, September 1987) Look back over the past year. Could you measure your progress, your accomplishments, in the Christian life? Depending on what is meant by the word measure, this might be difficult to do with real precision. Could you, for example, chart your compassion quotient? During his 1987 U.S. pilgrimage, Pope John Paul II spoke several times of compassion's important place in III ON PILGRIMAGE Christian living. Compassion is a virtue, he said in the Los Angeles Coliseum -- a virtue not to be neglected in a world where so many suffer from oppression and deprivation. This virtue also is needed "in the face of the spiritual emptiness and aimlessness" often experienced despite material prosperity. Efforts to foster reconciliation also characterize the Christian life. Pope John Paul speaks of this so often that reconciliation might be called a theme of his papacy. But what is your rating as a reconciler? In some fields, progress is measured with the help of graphs and charts. Students look to their grades; praise often is received as a sign of success at a given task; an event is judged successful if those involved are satisfied with it. In the context of Christian life, compassion quotients and recon- ciliation ratings have a strange sound. You won't receive a grade at year's end for your compassion. Praise for your fine accomplish- ments as a Christian are fairly hard to come by. And when did you last feel completely satisfied with yourself as a Christian? Christians legitimately ask themselves whether they've been compassionate; whether they in- tend to be compassionate. Similar- ly they ask if reconciliation is a guideline for them and they in- vestigate better ways to foster I II reconciliation. One's Christian life is open to evaluation, assessment. But the Christian life is something like an open-ended pilgrimage. Even the route keeps getting recharted. One pursues goals and hopes to make progress in the Christian life. Whenever a goal is reached, however, a new one opens up. The possibilities for compassion are never exhausted. People never are as fully reconciling as they can become. Perhaps that only means that this pilgrimage can be endlessly interesting. Surely it means that graphs and charts cannot measure this pilgrimage as well as prayerful contemplation can. Father of the poor By Janaan Manternach NC News Service artin and his sister were the children of a freed black woman from Panama. She raised her children by herself in Lima, Peru. Their father, a Spanish.knight, abandoned them because of their color. But he did send some money to support and educate his children. Martin learned as a child to bear racial insults without becoming pre- judiced himself. As a youngster he was drawn to help people who were hurting. On trips to the market for his mother, Martin often gave poorer people his money or the groceries he was bringing home. In 1591 when he was 12, Mar- tin's mother found an opportunity for her son to learn a trade. Martin worked for a couple of years with a barber and became very skilled. Barbers in those days not only cut hair, they also did minor surgery and prepared and gave medicine to the sick. As a teen-ager, Martin already was a skillful healer. He worked in the poorest sections of Lima, treating sick people who never saw a doctor. When he was 15, he asked the Dominican priests and brothers if he could work with them as a lay helper or servant. Some Dominicans felt he had no right to join their community because he was black. So, at first, lie was allowed to do only jobs like the laundry and cleaning the stables. He did what he was asked with so much kindness and goodness that the community finally invited him to become a member as a brother. They also came to ap- preciate his remarkable healing skills and gave Martin the task of caring for the community's sick members. Martin's reputation for compas- sion and his medical skills soon reached outside the monasterl/. People, rich and poor, began com- ing to him for help. In fact, so many sick people in Lima came to Martin for care that the Dominican monastery began to look like a clinic. Several houses were converted into hospitals. Poor people began to bring Mar- tin their babies to care for when they could not feed or clothe them. He also went out into the streets to bring homeless street children home with him. Martin set up a large orphanage with money he begged from wealthy citizens. Martin spent his days busily car- ing for the sick and raising money for medicine. He spent long hours during the night in prayer. His prayerfulness and charity led many people to come to him for spiritual guidance. Martin died in 1639. People call- ed him the "father of the poor." In 1962 Pope John XXIII canonized St. Martin de Porres. The church honors him each Nov. 3 as patron of interracial justice. (Ms. Manternach is the author of catechetical works, Scripture stories and original stories for children.) Example: MAIL 1. MAPAAN 2. IMNTRA Word Scramble Unscramble the words below. All the words are in this week's children's story. ILl, I001^1 I IIilll 3. LEAREH 4. CITUSEJ What do you think? [] St. Martin de Porres became known for his skill at healing and his compassion for all people. Draw a picture of Martin at work bringing comfort to the sick. From the bookshelf The Princess and the Goblin is a story by George MacDonald. In it, some goblins have a plan to capture a princess and make her the bride of their crown prince. However, a young boy named Curdle meets the princess and her nurse when they are lost. He and a mysterious woman will play roles in helping to foil the goblins' plan. This story shows that forces of good contribute to life's progress even as evil ones attempt to block one's way. (Win. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 225 Jefferson S.E., Grand Rapids, Mich. 49503. 1987. Hard- back, $8.95.) :?:. :,ii00I ; ': ii ' i :i: