As we know, charity is one of the principal virtues of our faith. One of our prominent Catholic lay leaders, Mr. Carl Anderson, has written an article reminding us as Catholics to focus on the virtue of charity. He states “…when we show charity to those most in need, we become instruments of grace and participate in God’s creative love”. He also states that “… every act of charity, in fact, is an opportunity to not only give, but also to receive”.
Charity is more than giving of our financial resources. True charity is giving of ourselves. It is sacrificial giving. One way we can truly give of ourselves is by reaching out to those who have lost a loved one in recent weeks or months. Here in our Parish in the last few weeks we have experienced the passing of many of our faithful. Most of us know someone in our community who is grieving at this time. We may know parishioners, friends, neighbors, or relatives who are in mourning. In the spirit of Pope Francis, we can especially reach out to widows and widowers, those who have recently lost a spouse. As Christians, most of us struggle with the reality of death. One of our leading Catholic teachers reminds us that death is part of living and a step along the road of life. We know we cannot escape it. Yet we also know that it is difficult to let go when a loved one passes from our midst. Letting go can be painful emotionally and so families who have lost loved ones grieve because of their loss and experience great sadness.
I believe it is fair to say that we are usually attentive to families and their needs at the time of the funeral of a loved one, and in it immediate aftermath. But as time passes, our attentiveness may wane. People grieve in different ways. They grieve for different lengths of time. We are challenged to become more sensitive to those who are truly grieving and assist them in their time of healing. Maybe we can pay them a visit on a periodic basis, or call them once a month, or invite them to a Church or community function. What may seem as small gestures by us may be viewed as thoughtful and sacrificial acts of charity by them.
Pope Francis has echoed the sentiments of Pope Benedict XVI who has said that charity is love received and given. As disciples, we can take these sentiments to heart as we reach out to those in need in their time of grief. When we do, we will receive many graces from God for the love we extend to those around us.