CAFOD’s World News Manager, Nana Anto-Awuakye has returned from Ethiopia where ten million people currently face extreme hunger. She visited CAFOD’s partners in the northeast of the country to see how they are trying to tackle the devastating effects of the worst drought the country has seen in 30 years.
It is truly shocking to hear a mother talk about her children going hungry, to say that she can’t remember the last time she was able to feed her children three meals a day.
Last month, I was in Ethiopia’s north eastern region, where I met mothers who told me that they, along with millions of others, are facing severe hunger because of food shortages brought on by drought.
Rachel McCarthy works in CAFOD’s Theology Programme. She reflects on how our faith calls us to show mercy to the children, women and men searching for peace and refuge.
Love is a gift of God
I am blessed to know what love is. From the example of my parents and my grandparents, I know that love for another person is a self-sacrificial gift, a sharing in each other’s joys and sorrows, one that is ever willing to heal wounds and bring new life.
Reading Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, (the Joy of Love), the words leapt out at me, reminding me of this living stream of our faith. For love “trusts, it sets free”. Love “never gives up, even in the darkest hour”. Love “opens our eyes and enables us to see, beyond all else, the great worth of a human being”. Love “is always a gift of God”.
Based on biblical teaching and the experiences of the faithful worldwide, Amoris Laetitia reflects on the meaning of love and boldly addresses the complex issues which prevent human flourishing. It teaches us how to be loving in our relationships with our own families, but also inspires us to look outwards and to foster an attitude of global solidarity.
Catherine Gorman from our Theology Programme reflects on the Doors of Mercy, where they can be seen in our world and how we can open them to others.
A couple of weeks’ ago I walked through the Door of Mercy at St George’s Cathedral, Southwark with CAFOD colleagues from all around the country. We were praying for refugees and migrants, forced to leave their homes in search of a better life. And as we heard the stories of our brothers and sisters from around the world, intertwined with Scripture, Catholic Social Teaching and prayers, we were moved – imagining ourselves in their shoes, and recognising the need for God’s mercy in our world.
As Pope Francis has said: “By crossing the threshold of the Holy Door, we will find the strength to embrace God’s mercy and dedicate ourselves to being merciful with others as the Father has been with us.” (Misericordiae Vultus #14)
As we passed through the door, I had a real sense that I and my colleagues were truly (re)committing ourselves to share God’s mercy with others, a sense that has stayed with me since.
Janet Crossley is CAFOD’s Emergency Programme Manager for Nepal. One year on from the devastating earthquakes which struck Nepal in April and May 2015 watch Janet’s short video from Nepal and read how the generosity of supporters has helped our partners reach the people who were most affected.
When I arrived in the village of Bungkot in Gorkha district, piles of rubble still filled spaces where houses once stood. Grass and crops had already started to grow out of the heaps of stone and dust that families once called home.
I first visited Gorkha district in western Nepal three months after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck on Saturday 25 April. It devastated the lives of more than 5 million people, killing over 8,700, and reducing more than half a million homes to rubble. A second earthquake caused further destruction when it hit three weeks later on 12 May.
Catherine Gorman works in CAFOD’s Theology Programme. On Divine Mercy Sunday she reflects on how we can “be merciful as our Father is merciful”.
Throughout this Year of Mercy, but perhaps particularly today on Divine Mercy Sunday, we are called to “be merciful as our Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). For Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation, this call “serves as an invitation to follow the merciful example of the Father who asks us not to judge or condemn, but to forgive and to give love and forgiveness without measure.”
This is a real challenge. Personally, I find that it is so much easier to hold a grudge, to judge others, to close myself off, rather than to open myself up, to let go and forgive. How can I possibly try to emulate the mercy of God in my interactions with others?
Rachel McCarthy works in the CAFOD Theology Programme. She reflects on the struggles of our sisters and brothers living in poverty, and how our prayers can make a real difference.
Today is Women’s World Day of Prayer. I reflect on the experiences of the many women and girls around the world who struggle without access to water, like Nangiro Nadiim from Uganda.
Nadiim has seen how devastating the effects of drought can be. In the dry and dusty region of Karamoja, the lack of water affects families, animals and crops- but it is often women who suffer the most.
Nadiim says, “Life today is even worse than before. Before, we had lots of crops and cows, but now there is no rain. Our cows have starved because there is no grass. I don’t know if our children will survive.”
It’s hard to imagine what Nadiim is going through; to be forced into fear for your children’s future. I’m not sure I could bear it.
But our faith compels us not to turn away. Pope Francis encourages us to “open our eyes and see the misery of the world, the wounds of our brothers and sisters who are denied their dignity… let us recognise that we are compelled to heed their cry for help!” Misericordiae Vultus #15
Rachel McCarthy works in the Theology Programme at CAFOD. She reflects on the Gospel story of the transfiguration and how our global neighbours living in poverty are transforming their lives.
“As Jesus was praying, the aspect of his face was changed and his clothing became sparkling white” (Luke 9:29).
This Sunday, we will hear again the amazing story of Jesus’ transfiguration, when the Lord appears transformed by radiant light on the mountain before his disciples. It may be a story you are very familiar with, but it is worth reflecting on this divine transformation today.
Father Paul Ngole works for our partner Caritas Moroto in Uganda. He reflects on how Jesus leads the disciples up the mountain to a place of peace, prayer and serenity. In the same way, the Lord intends us all to experience the love and joy of God.
The theme of transformation is, of course, central to our Lenten practice. As we journey through these 40 days and nights, renewing our baptismal promises and deepening our faith, we prepare our hearts and minds to celebrate Easter, when the Risen Christ will set us free. Continue reading “Lent 2016: Transforming lives”
Fiona has written from her Step into the Gap visit to Peru about how she is seeing the corporal acts of mercy in action in CAFOD’s work:
During this Year of Mercy, we are called to act upon the corporal and spiritual acts of mercy. And so, while in Peru, I’ve been reflecting on the corporal acts in particular. It seems that they don’t need to be taken literally, as I’d first thought. I thought I’d take this time to focus on CAFOD partner CEAS who we’ve had the privilege of spending time with during this trip. They are the organisation for social action set up by the Peruvian Bishops’ Conference.
Of all the corporal acts of mercy, I find that ‘welcoming the stranger’ is a particularly challenging one. It’s God’s call for us to put the faith and trust we have in Him into a complete stranger’s hands. It can be difficult to open our hearts—let alone our homes—to people that we know nothing about. Still, families have been doing just that—and more!—for us gap year volunteers here in Peru. The relationship built between CAFOD partners such as CEAS and the local community has enabled this faith and trust to exist.
Danielle Storey is one of CAFOD’s gap year volunteers. Here she writes about how the work of our partners in Zimbabwe is one way of showing the mercy Pope Francis has called for in this holy year:
We’ve learnt so much after just two weeks spent in Zimbabwe that no book could have ever taught us. The people we’ve met so far are just amazing. With the help of CAFOD partners and their inspirational volunteers we have witnessed the true loving mercy of God in action; as the local priest said in his homily this week, the work of God is alive and active.
As Pope Francis has announced this year as the Year of Mercy, we are encouraged as a worldwide family to have compassion and share our love unconditionally with our sisters and brothers, no matter how hard that may be: “let the Church always be a place of mercy and hope, where everyone is welcomed, loved and forgiven”. The volunteers here put their all into helping children who have been orphaned and people who are living with disabilities, sickness, or are disadvantaged, all the while struggling themselves to earn money and feed their own families. They do it because they have love to share, they open their hearts to others because there are no labels in the eyes of God – we are all equal and everyone deserves that love. As one of the Shamware Dzedu, the friends of Mavambo, said, “Volunteers want to give everything; song, heart, power.” Continue reading “Step into the Gap Zimbabwe – Love is an Open Door of Mercy”
The Year of Mercy is an opportunity to celebrate God’s love and to bring mercy to others. Celia Deane-Drummond, a member of the CAFOD Theological reference group, reflects on God’s mercy towards creation and what this teaches us today.
Most of us have had times in our lives when we have known what it means to receive mercy from others. Perhaps through the caring we received after an injury or illness, either physical or mental; perhaps through knowing we have done something wrong and feeling dependent on someone else’s forgiveness; perhaps just sheer material need that depends on another’s act of generosity. Mercy is what we need when we are vulnerable and in need of love, healing and forgiveness. It accompanies those good actions like a quiet breath of hope.
The only time that Pope Francis explicitly mentions mercy in Laudato Si’ is in a paragraph on God’s love for creation where he cites Pope Benedict XVI’s Catechesis, written ten years earlier in 2005. For love has a way of binding up all other attitudes towards the created world, and without which mercy becomes impossible. So, in the same paragraph, Pope Francis refers back to the work of the early Church father, Basil the Great, as well as the well-known medieval poet, Dante, in order to support his claim. It is worth meditating on this passage a little more in order to unpack what mercy might mean in relation to the created world:
“Even the fleeting life of the least of beings is the object of his love, and in its few seconds of existence, God enfolds it with his affection. Saint Basil the Great described the Creator as “goodness without measure”, while Dante Alighieri spoke of “the love which moves the sun and the stars”. Consequently, we can ascend from created things “to the greatness of God and to his loving mercy”(§77). Continue reading “Love and mercy: learning God’s tenderness towards creation”