This is the Church in action! Unlike other efforts reported in popular media, the Catholic Church in the Philippines is distributing sustainable relief packages to those hit hardest by tropical storm Ondoy. The CBCP news portal reports that the package includes “kitchenwares, family size mat, blanket and mosquito net, canned goods, two big towels, underwear, slippers, toiletries, plates, cups and saucers, and utensils, laundry detergents, and most importantly—one sack of rice.”The goal of this initiative is to help recipients sustain themselves for at least a month. Those living in profoundly stricken areas, such as those in the Dioceses of Malolos, Pasig, Antipolo, Laguna and Pampanga will receive the free packages.
The more than 30 million pesos needed to buy the items for the packages came from local and international donors and will be distributed by volunteers in their respective locales.
Needless to say, this is not the only relief effort initiated by the Catholic Church. Individual dioceses, parishes and even chapels are doing their part. Understandably these efforts are virtually nowhere to be seen on TV or broadsheets (not that the Church wants to be in the limelight) and I think it is because popular media tend to put the Catholic Church in their headlines only when clerics are involved in scandals (but that’s a subject for another blog post). And I think another reason is the Church’s tendency to “let not the right hand know what the left is doing”. Meaningful charity does not draw attention to the giver.
When I said “Church”, I did not just mean the bishops, priests and nuns. I also meant the lay faithful. In fact it is the lay faithful I was thinking when I said “this is the Church in action”. When a faithful donates to sustainable relief efforts, that is the Church in action. When a faithful reaches out to save another from drowning, that is the Church in action. When a faithful shares the little food that he/she has with a neighbor, that is the Church in action. When a faithful helps a family rebuild their house after the storm, that is the Church in action. When a faithful helps his/her community in cleaning up heaps of trash, that is the Church in action. When a faithful distributes relief goods to those affected by the typhoon, that is the Church in action.
So I say to the faithful who are helping Ondoy victims: you are the Church in action. You are being Christ to others. You are being faithful to the Father’s will. May the Holy Spirit give you more strength and guard you from any harm.
Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/catholicrelief/3972332346/in/photostream/