A Call to Alms

by Fredi D'Alessio

This article was first published by Catholic Exchange on 7/18/02

When Mary set out to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who was in her sixth month with child, she had just learned that she herself would soon give birth to the Son of God. Out of charity, without concern for the difficulties she might face, Mary put her self-interests aside and hastened to the aid of her cousin who was elderly and fragile. Mary remained at Elizabeth’s side for three months.

How often do we put our personal interests aside and reprioritize our obligations and responsibilities so that we can go to the aid of others? How often do we take personal risks for the sake of others?

Many of the immediate reactions to the horrible events of September 11 proved that we are a people capable of acts of charity, even to the point of heroism. But what about our longer-term reactions? They, of course, depend on what lessons we have learned from the horrors of September 11.

We, as individuals and as a nation, have been shown to be far more vulnerable than many of us realized. Gone are the illusions that we are in absolute control of our lives and destinies. It is now plain and obvious that our economy and everything dependent on it is so fragile that a single disruption in our everyday economic machinery inevitably brings about a cascading effect of monetary tribulations. These lessons indicate that changes are in order — that our reliance on God the Father Almighty should be foremost in our minds each and every day of our lives.

The current lifestyle of our nation leaves much to be desired. The United States — indeed, the entire Western World — has become materialistic to the core. Our full-scale embrace of consumerism has resulted in consumerism’s crushing embrace of us as individuals. Our single-minded pursuit of wealth and merchandise has seriously undermined our spiritual health, and it is high time that we as individuals reflected on how that sad fact may apply to us.

Have the financial markets become a false idol in your life? Do you check the value of your portfolio first thing in the morning — even before morning prayer? Does that not reveal to you who your master is?

If we free ourselves from this master’s bondage, we will be free to strengthen our spiritual lives and return to the loving embrace of our true Lord and Master. Our blindness or indifference to the suffering of so many people throughout the world will be overwhelmed by an awareness that the Will of God is not being done, and we will stop allowing ourselves to postpone submitting to His Will. We will elect to more purposefully care for our brothers and sisters throughout the world with our hearts and our resources.

Let us no longer ask what our God can do for us, but rather what we can do for our God. Let us, by our actions, begin showing our Heavenly Father that we can be all that He asks us to be — a truly holy people filled with love for Him and for each other. Let us renew our faith at this critical moment in history, that He may protect us from harm and deliver us from evil if we but love one another and live in accordance with his divine Will. Let us pray and live the prayer of St. Francis and let us also ask our divine Master that we may not so much seek to consume as to be consumed by the fire of his Love.

Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

make me an instrument of thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.