Strengthening Families. Building Communities. Reducing Poverty.

Food Pantry Reflection

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The late Henri Nouwen once wrote that “prayer is not a pious decoration of life but the breath of human existence.” Nouwen, a Dutch Catholic Priest left a prestigious Harvard professorship to serve as the pastor of L’Arche, a place where people with developmental disabilities live in Christian community. It is at L’Arche where after many years of searching Nouwen found what he was looking for, true community. A place where transformation happens.   A place where, through simple human interactions touched by a God of mercy, he learned to see the world differently and experience life in a new way. Not as a series of hurried and anxiety-ridden tasks, what many of us know as normal, but an intentional life full of compassion and connection.
Every week hundreds of people come to Catholic Charities looking for food. Some we see every month, a signal that they are stuck in an unjust cycle of poverty from which they cannot emerge. Others experience episodic need, they are in between jobs or they have unexpected expenses. And most of these families have to make difficult decisions each day; will they pay to keep the power on or will they buy groceries? They bring more than hunger with them; they bring with them the anxiety of daily decisions. And when they come they are seeking more than food, they are seeking mercy in a “world of indifference.” Their footsteps through the doorway of Catholic Charities are prayers for transformation.

It is people like Alex, who come seeking this transformation. And who in the journey of seeking he ends up transforming the staff and volunteers through his kind resilience.

It is our calling, together, to be open to participating in transformative human interaction that can alter us and those we greet; remembering that the prayers around us, for relief, for mercy, for help, for gratitude, are more often in the faces and actions of people, rather than in their words.





By Justin Reilly,
Western Region Office Director



Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte © 2014