Saturday, March 24, 2007

SIR, PUT DOWN YOUR UTENSILS AND STEP AWAY FROM THE BUFFET

Shamefacedly and with head hanging low I confessed to those who hold me accountable for such things my disastrous eating habits these past two weeks. I am already weak, and if someone says, “Oh, but I made this just for you,” my resolve is just destroyed.

I have been better about choosing what I will eat before touching a prepared plate. But then we sit there and talk and the remaining food is right there before me and all of a sudden another forkful is heading toward my mouth.

I read once somewhere that one third of the world is dying from lack of food. Another third of the world is dying from over eating. We live in the land overflowing with milk and honey. I spend too much of my energy trying to run away from the abundance of food.

About 10 years ago I went to Zimbabwe with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to see what kind of work we were doing there. This upset more people than you would think. “We have poor people right here in our own country whose refrigerators have nothing in them!” This is true. But most people that live in the United States live in relative poverty. The places where CRS goes people live in absolute poverty. Many there would consider themselves fortunate to be what we consider poor in the United States.

Empty refrigerators are not the problem in Zimbabwe. There are none. There are no kitchens in which to put one. Many families live in a cluster of tiny mud and straw huts. There is no electricity to plug a refrigerator into. As a matter of fact, there is little of anything for miles and miles.

Here are some pictures from a town called Binga. In them you can see the Church and a collection of some of the young folk who live there. They did not choose to be there. (Why don’t they just move out of the desert to someplace where there is food many ask.) They did live in a lush area and subsisted happily on their own until being moved out and settled here by decree so that their prime land could be used as resort areas. They were promised water, but it never came. And there are no resources for them to just pick up and move.

CRS, unlike many groups, doesn’t just drop a whole bunch of money on the problem and move along. The CRS of the United States sets up revolving loans to establish businesses that helps residents becomes self sufficient. A loan was given to a lady to buy equipment to sew school uniforms (required there for all students) and she earned enough to pay back the loan, which went to another man who bought chickens to start a farm. In this way we assist them in not becoming dependant on outside sourcing for sustenance.

It is with great comfort that I recommend CRS (the people who bring you Operation Rice Bowl) to you. It not only reaches out to the poorest of the poor in the world, it is a charity in which an incredible amount of each dollar goes directly to helping those in need.

Just one last picture of interest; here is the chapel for the main seminary of the country. It is absolutely packed with seminarians. What a joy it was to celebrate mass with them. One wonders if they will be the future missionaries to the United States.

4 comments:

Adoro te Devote said...

How sad that the United States is in such need of missionaries.

I just got back from the RCIA retreat...amazing retreat, with a Seder meal, going through the Jewish Passover with a link to the NT....just an amazing day. The woman who runs the RCIA program has been doing this for a few years and she has this great recipe for the lamb. I haven't had lamb since I was a little girl, and I didn't like it then. But THIS meal was absolutely DIVINE!

And then I come and read your post, consider the seconds I went up to get (didn't overeat by any means), but still...SECONDS!

We are ridiculously wealthy by the world's standards, and even as I consider that I don't have much, I know that I have far more than I deserve. In our ethno-centric country, we really DON'T understand the plight of most of the world's people, for all the rhetorc and propaganda. I've seen that true proverty and admittedly, it's bothered me ever since.

Yet, I haven't done anything about it.

Rob said...

-here is the chapel for the main seminary of the country. It is absolutely packed with seminarians. What a joy it was to celebrate mass with them. One wonders if they will be the future missionaries to the United States.-

This is already happening. I have had visiting African priests every summer for years in my rural Arizona parish. The new priests here are both phillipinos.

Alelluia!

Fr. V said...

Adoro to Devote - I was pondering it myself. Yesterday someone gave away free tickets to the Cleveland Orchestra - One of hte finest orchestras in the world, one of the finest venues in the world, one of the best seats in the finest venue - Why did I get to do that? How rare, considering how many people are on the face of the earth, that that opportunity was. Wow. It is mind boggling.

Rob, Most people don't remember that the U.S. was a mission country until the 1920's. Here we go again! We've not had many priests of other nations here in Cleveland, but the time is coming and quickly!

uncle jim said...

where one door closes, others open ... and, I believe, an opportunity is still in the offing for lay ministry and evangelization - it could be a period of discipling and training. As Paul writes, "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me." I think more and more are starting to hear that interior call to serve the poor, and to act as and for Christ. God will get His work accomplished with or without us, but it goes much smoother when we heed His voice.