Catholic Charities: Universal Love in Action
by Bishop Joseph E. Strickland
What is Catholic Charities?
Catholic means universal and it is a reminder that the work of Catholic Charities encompasses every aspect of the human family. This focus is beyond overwhelming but it seems helpful to place all that the Catholic Charities organization does in this context. It is a reminder of what is often said which sets the tone so clearly. “We help others because WE are Catholic not because THEY are Catholic.” This approach is truly fundamental for our efforts because we are looking to the needs of every human person regardless of their background or affiliation with the Catholic faith. Another aspect of this Universal focus is that it reminds us that every aspect of being is under the purview of Catholic Charities. Our work is universal in the sense that it seeks to address all needs of the people of God whether they are physical, emotional or spiritual. The monumental nature of those suffering can wash over us. Even if it really isn’t possible to provide true universal help, this focus enables us to stay attuned to the numerous needs that we can assist with, in some small way.
Charity is the caring love of mankind, caritas. This focus reminds us that the work of Catholic Charities is the sharing of the love of God for His children. It broadens our work beyond the more narrow focus that we tend to adopt with the word “charity”. We are not limited to handing out charitable gifts. Instead we are called to “love in action” which is a much more broad way of addressing the needs of the human family. It is a reminder that the love of God flows back and forth in human relationships and sometimes the lines begin to blur between giver and receiver when we are truly operating out of love. All who get involved with Catholic Charities often experience this aspect of “trading places” where the giver ultimately becomes the receiver in a very significant way.
Catholic Charities simply translates to Universal Love but this organization is really more. It is Universal Love in Action. A living out of the Great Commandment of God, to Love Him with all our heart, mind and soul and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. This is Catholic Charities…..embracing the daunting task of living God’s Universal Love and putting it into action.