During Lent, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops encourage you to participate in weekly ‘tiny retreats’-or five-minute reflections-to better lead you to solidarity with your brothers and sisters around the world.
Catholics Confront Global Poverty ‘Tiny Retreat’ Instructions:
Before reading the reflection, take a few moments to breathe slowly and deeply and to enter into the presence of God. Imagine that you are walking with Jesus. Allow yourself to be filled with gratitude for the gift of your body, for the physical, mental and spiritual abilities that you have been given.
This week our global Lenten journey takes us to classrooms and households in Vietnam, where communities are learning to educate and care for children with disabilities. Despite rapid economic growth in the past few decades, Vietnam has seen a widening gap between the rich and the poor. People with disabilities are among those who are often neglected in poor communities, where they have limited access to education and opportunities to overcome physical challenges. Catholic Relief Services offers training and support that allows people with disabilities to experience new life. This is an expression of the Catholic social teaching principle of the dignity of the human person. When Catholics Confront Global Poverty members like you are advocating support for U.S. poverty-focused international assistance, you are helping people with disabilities like Giap in Vietnam.
In the Gospel reading from Sunday’s liturgy (Mark 9:2-10), Peter, James and John are on a mountaintop with Jesus. While there, they see a dazzling image of Jesus flanked by Elijah and Moses, and hear the terrifying voice of God on the mountaintop. Jesus says not to tell anyone what they saw, “except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.” On the way down the mountain, they silently muse about this question: what does it mean to rise from the dead? To this day, we puzzle over it still. What does it mean to rise from the dead? What will eternal life be like? What transformation occurs for our loved ones and their bodies at death?
Jesus’ transfiguration revealed the divine power hidden within his human nature. We can call on that same divine power of Jesus to transfigure us in our fallen-ness so that we, too, might show forth God’s glory more truly. Perhaps we can also learn from the small deaths and resurrections that mark our Lenten lives. In your prayer this week, recall the times when you have left behind sinful behaviors, unhealthy habits, and deadening ways of living. Did this process happen suddenly or slowly? Were you lonely or supported in your endeavor? Where was Christ in these deaths? How did you encounter him in the new life that followed? For those now suffering from injustice, violence, famine or disease, what would it be like for them to experience new lives of hope and stability? These victories on earth can only be a shadow of the spiritual resurrection that we will experience when some day, we see Christ face to face. The kingdom of God will only be fully realized in heaven, yet we are called to assist God’s work to do justice, so that this earth can better reflect the kingdom. Prayerfully ask God how you can be part of work toward resurrection.
In a culture that prizes fitness, self-sufficiency and independence, the prospect of becoming needy or dependent can be truly terrifying. In his public ministry, however, Jesus embodied both the ability to give and to receive. While he healed the sick, he also relied on others for his food and shelter. He graciously received anointing and assistance from others when he needed it. This week, fast from your independence and self-sufficiency. Graciously receive help when it is offered to you. In a note, e-mail or personal word, thank the people who have supported you, comforted you, carried you and helped to make the life you have possible.
CRS’ Inclusion of Vietnamese with Disabilities (IVWD) program in Vietnam helps people with physical disabilities achieve higher education and find good jobs. Giap, has used a wheelchair since an illness debilitated his muscles when he was 17. After he graduated from high school, he began attending a CRS-supported college for people with disabilities. While studying at this school, Giap has learned computer skills and also gained experience working in an office setting, and he has started a group that designs websites for businesses.
Through the IVWD program, Catholic Relief Services provides children who have disabilities with the resources they need to reach their full potential. These resources include physical therapy, wheelchairs, hearing aids and teachers who are trained and equipped to work with students with disabilities. In Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital, the college that Giap attends helps students recognize and capitalize on their special talents, and links them to real job opportunities after graduation.
Those of us who are able-bodied, who do not rely on wheelchairs or special technologies to help us get around or complete tasks, often forget that our bodies can take us where we need to go. Instead, we rely on cars, elevators and escalators to move us around. Count the times you use technology to help you get from one place to another this week, and put an offering in your Rice Bowl for each instance.
You can magnify the effects of your Lenten giving by helping to ensure that the U.S. government continues to support poverty-focused international assistance, so that Giap and others receive the help they need to flourish. Take action on the Catholics Confront Global Poverty website now.
Your Catholics Confront Global Poverty Team
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