Witness of charity: They will know we are Christians by our love Print
Written by Mary C. Uhler   
Thursday, Nov. 08, 2012 -- 12:00 AM

Editor's View by Mary C. Uhler

Hurricane Sandy left plenty of devastation in her wake, causing destruction in many countries and leading to at least 68 deaths.

Whenever these disasters occur, people seem to forget their differences and unite in a common purpose to help those in need.

We can especially be proud of Catholic Charities USA — the umbrella organization of Catholic Charities agencies in dioceses throughout our country.

Experience with flooding

Back in 2008, the Diocese of Madison area suffered from severe flooding. At that time, Catholic Charities USA sent people to Wisconsin to work with the diocese and its parishes to help deal with the aftermath of the flooding.

Catholic Charities helped get food, clothing, and shelter to those whose homes were severely damaged. It worked with other agencies, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to help rebuild homes, businesses, and farms destroyed by the flood waters.

Hurricane relief

After seeing how Catholic Charities dealt with our own disaster, I can envision how the agency is helping those affected by the storms in the eastern part of our country. Catholic Charities is working hard to help people affected by Hurricane Sandy.

As Catholic News Service reported, Catholic Charities agencies on the east coast are also trying to maintain their regular services to people in need, such as the homeless, the poor, and the elderly. Without power and food, these people may be in even more dire straights.

That’s why it is so important for all of us to respond in charity and generosity to help those in need. The Diocese of Madison has left it to the discretion of pastors as to whether to hold a special parish collection for hurricane relief. Some parishes have done so already. The diocese will send any contributions to Catholic Charities USA.

Individuals can also donate directly to Catholic Charities USA online for hurricane relief at

Witness of charity in Year of Faith

It is also worth noting that as we celebrate the Year of Faith, Pope Benedict XVI has reminded us in his apostolic letter, Porta Fidei that this is a “good opportunity to intensify the witness of charity.” He reminds us of St. Paul’s words, “So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (I Cor 12:13).

We learn from Scripture that faith without works is dead. Strong words indeed!

The Holy Father tells us, “Faith without charity bears no fruit, while charity without faith would be a sentiment constantly at the mercy of doubt. Faith and charity each require the other, in such a way that each allows the other to set out along its respective path.”

Helping with hurricane relief is just one way we can put our faith into action. We can find ways to help those in need in our own families, our neighborhoods, our churches, and the larger world.

The Holy Father says in Porta Fidei, “What the world is in particular need of today is the credible witness of people enlightened in mind and heart by the word of the Lord, and capable of opening the hearts and minds of many to the desire for God and for true life, life without end.”

Sometimes the best way to show that witness is by helping others in a quiet way. The Scriptures tell us that people knew the early Christians by how they loved and cared for each other.

Do people today know we are Christians by the love we show others? This Year of Faith is a time to intensify our witness, beginning with a donation to Catholic  Charities USA for hurricane relief and/or a contribution to Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Madison, the St. Vincent de Paul Society, the Catholic Multicultural Center, local food pantries, or other charitable efforts. If you can’t afford a monetary donation, give of your time as a volunteer or offer your prayers for those in need.