Monday, March 24, 2014

The Homeless and Hungry in America: A Meditation for Lent; Remembering Chuck Matthei

As part of the Karpos Ministry at St. Mary's Church in Painesville, Ohio, we try to feed the hungry and homeless. This winter we have offered many homeless people emergency shelter when the temperatures were bitterly cold. And if someone needs a coat, hat, gloves, or socks, we provide for them. We do not have huge funding; no paid employees; no big organization. What we do have is faithful and dedicated volunteers and the support of our church and our pastor. Some of our volunteers are Catholics, members of St. Mary's parish; many are of different faiths. All passionately believe in living and fostering the corporal and spiritual Works of Mercy.

Today in the mail I received The Catholic Worker newspaper--the one published by the Catholic Workers on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The March-April 2014 issue has a beautiful woodcut with the words of the Moroccan poet, Abdellatif Laabi:

"In these days of abstinence, it was a source of pride to me to be hungry and to disturb a little the shameful peace of those who starve our people."

A thought-provoking remark in the season of Lent. Who is it that allows, even fosters, the great hunger and homelessness we see in Painesville and throughout our country?

Abdellatif Laabi's remark makes me think of Chuck Matthei (1948-2002), the great Peacemaker, who once told me that he fasted every Friday in solidarity with the hungry of the world. Chuck was a kind of saint. He felt he was called to such extraordinary action. We are probably not called to that. But we all are called to the task of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and sheltering the homeless--and trying to cure our society of these problems.

Here is a site with a short bio of Chuck and some photos: Remembering Chuck Matthei.

My old friend Wendy Rawlins Tuck is currently researching and writing a biography of Chuck.

Chuck Matthei

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