Recreated by Christ’s love

The cross in the church of San DamianoWhere did Francis’s journey to Christ begin? It began with the gaze of the crucified Jesus. With letting Jesus look at us at the very moment that he gives his life for us and draws us to himself. Francis experienced this in a special way in the Church of San Damiano, as he prayed before the cross …

Today, October 4th, the Church remembers Francis of Assisi. Pope Francis traveled to Assisi and celebrated the Eucharist with thousands. His homily, at least the prepared text ( we know he often ad libs), is available for our consideration.

The Pope asks, “What does Saint Francis’s witness tell us today? What does he have to say to us, not merely with words – that is easy enough – but by his life?” He sets before us three answers beginning with:

His first and most essential witness is this: that being a Christian means having a living relationship with the person of Jesus; it means putting on Christ, being conformed to him. […]

On that cross, Jesus is depicted not as dead, but alive! Blood is flowing from his wounded hands, feet and side, but that blood speaks of life. Jesus’ eyes are not closed but open, wide open: he looks at us in a way that touches our hearts. The cross does not speak to us about defeat and failure; paradoxically, it speaks to us about a death which is life, a death which gives life, for it speaks to us of love, the love of God incarnate, a love which does not die, but triumphs over evil and death.

He proceeds to offer two other answers:

… the second witness that Francis gives us: that everyone who follows Christ receives true peace, the peace that Christ alone can give, a peace which the world cannot give.

… [third] Saint Francis of Assisi bears witness to the need to respect all that God has created, and that men and women are called to safeguard and protect, but above all he bears witness to respect and love for every human being.

Read the text of his homily. Understand the Pope’s prayers for us. I also encourage you to be attentive to reports of his ad lib comments and find trusted commentators (like Fr. James Martin, SJ, or the writers on Religion News Service or the folks at America Magazine) who have access to even more information and anecdotal material.

The Son of Man has no place to lay his head

As they were walking along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus said to him, “Foxes have dens and the birds in the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

—Luke 9:57-58 (from the Gospel reading for Sunday, June 30, 2013)

The homeless Jesus sculpture leaves room for the viewer to sit on

Earlier this year the search to find a home for the “homeless Jesus sculpture” by Canadian sculptor Timothy P. Schmalz was reported in both the “religious” and the “secular” press (in print and online). Eventually Regis College (a Jesuit school in Toronto, Canada) gave the sculpture a home.

From the Religion News Service report:

“To be a Christian sculptor, the analogy is preaching. If you have a great location for your sculpture, it’s like preaching to a large audience. If you have a bad location, it’s like preaching in a closet.”

The 7-foot-long artwork allows space for one person to sit near the feet of the Jesus figure.

“It’s a very uncomfortable seat,” Schmalz said.

Reporting by Newsy and the Huffington Post on the sculpture’s journey to Regis College.

Jesus the homeless

Wind Chimes: 15 Oct 2012

Women buying fruit in a downtown market in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

Through the rest of this week we’ll wonder, with Job, where is God? Where is God in the midst of enormous challenges facing his creation and his ‘children’ throughout creation—even those we consider our ‘enemies’? And where is God in the challenges we face?

Sometimes the chimes sound far-off, sometimes near. What do you hear?

God is too good to believe in

God is not too hard to believe in. God is too good to believe in, we being such strangers to such goodness. The love of God is to me absolutely overwhelming. It’s clear to me, two things: that almost every square inch of the Earth’s surface is soaked with the tears and blood of the innocent, and it’s not God’s doing. It’s our doing. That’s human malpractice. Don’t chalk it up to God. Every time people say, when they see the innocent suffering, every time they lift their eyes to heaven and say, “God, how could you let this happen?” it’s well to remember that exactly at that moment God is asking exactly the same question of us: “How could you let this happen?” So you have to take responsibility. —William Sloane Coffin in an interview with Religion & Ethics Newsweekly on August 27, 2004.

October 15 – International Rural Women’s Day

“Where is God? How could God let this happen?” High food prices affect us all. While we may complain about this, we know that in rural locations throughout our nation and the world the affect of high food prices can be devastating.

“Prices of food have really gone up and this has made my children and I not to eat as we used to. We used to eat four times a day but now we can only eat two times under hard struggle.” — Salome Nche, mother of eight, Cameroon excerpt  from the Huairou Commission report “Grassroots Women’s Perspectives on Food Insecurity in Africa, Asia and Latin America,” 2009

Go to more information about the need and the beginning responses to meet the need.

One way Episcopalians “take responsibility” is through the work of Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD). Financial contributions from members and non-members fund work ‘on-the-ground’ in rural communities. Here is one example:

[ERD] Alleviating Hunger and Improving the Food Supply [in both Sudan and South Sudan in partnership with The Episcopal Church of Sudan]

  • approximately 24 agriculture resource agents will be trained over the next three years (one for each diocese)
  • following a three-month training course, each resource agent will establish a model garden to demonstrate agricultural techniques
  • the agent will train communities in sustainable land management, focusing on household gardens which can provide families with nutritious food and needed income
  • For more information

A prayer of remembering before a meal

“O God when I have food, help me to remember the hungry.
When I have work, help me to remember the jobless.
When I have a comfortable home, help me to remember
those who suffer from the cold or from the heat.
When I am without pain, help me to remember those who suffer.
In all this remembering, help me to destroy my own complacency
and bestir my compassion.
Make me concerned enough to help by word, deed and prayer,
those who cry out for what I so often take for granted.”

Contained in a Facebook posting by fr. James martin on 24 July 2012. He heard this prayer. Offered as a blessing before lunch in a 2012 meeting in Massachusetts of roman catholic school superintendents and principals

Photo: Women buying fruit in a downtown market in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. FAO is implementing its Initiative on Soaring Food Prices (ISFP) in the country to rapidly boost food production in order to increase food availability and accessibility and to alleviate the effects of soaring food prices on poor and vulnerable groups. Credit: FAO/Alessandra Benedetti Additional information about the International Day of Rural Women

Eleventh Day of Christmas: F.I.N.D.

F.I.N.D. Food In Need of Distribution

Years before my arrival at St. Margaret’s (1993) the parish had forged a relationship with FIND and was distributing food once a week. Over the years the need for this source of food has grown, and so has the response. I am proud of the work being done by FIND in the Coachella Valley and by the parish volunteers who distribute food every Tuesday morning. Here is a way our parish has partnered with a community resource to “change the world.”  ~dan

Quote . . .FIND (Food in Need of Distribution) Food bank, is dedicated to mobilizing the resources of our community through education and awareness to relieve hunger, the causes of hunger and the problems associated with hunger.

Our Vision

To create, a community where our citizens are free of hunger insecurity.  By educating our clients about alternative healthy food choices and informing them of various programs available to them to alleviate the upward spiral of demand.  We envision our food insecure clients obtaining nourishing food through channels that are not solely dependent on private sources; where our clients can learn to become self-sufficient while mindful of healthy choices. (“Mission and Vision” on the FIND website)

FIND Home Page

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Frequently Asked Questions

Who We Are

Q What is FIND (Food In Need of Distribution) Food Bank?

A. FIND is the Coachella Valley’s only Food Bank and it is our responsibility to ensure there is sufficient food to feed the hungry.

Q. How does FIND get the food?

A. We get our food from four sources.

    1. Large and Small (food drives) food donations from entities such as General Mills, Nabisco, Kraft, Cargill and many more.
    2. We are the USDA distributor for the Eastern Riverside County.
    3. We have 5 trucks operating each day going from different local grocery stores and products that are either close to expiration, damaged containers or just overstocked product.
    4. We purchase large quantity of product at wholesale prices to meet the needs of our agencies and operational programs such as Desert Kids Summer Feeding and Seniors Brown Bag.

Q. How is the food distributed?

A. Food is distributed through either our partnering agencies or directly through our emergency food programs.

Q. What geographical area does FIND serve?

A. Find serves the Eastern Riverside County along with parts of the high desert.

Q How many people does FIND help feed?

A. We are currently reaching on average 80,000 individuals monthly.

Q. How does FIND address food safety and nutrition?

A. We operate our warehouse under the strictest guidelines for food safety and are continuously working to obtain higher nutritional value type foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables.

Programs and Support

Q. What is FIND doing to help people support themselves?

A. We are reaching out to the people we serve through our partnering agencies and helping them find alternative sources of aid, such as Food Stamps, WIC and general case management services.

Q. How successful is FIND is its fight against hunger?

A. FIND is working aggressively each and every day to end hunger in the Coachella Valley. Once we have a full commitment from our community we will be able to state, “We are a hunger free zone”.

How You Can Help

Q. How much of my donation will be used for acquisition of food?

A. For every dollar we are able serve 7 meals. This is because 98% or 86% of your donation goes to food acquisition.

Q. How many people will I feed with my donation?

A. $1 = 7 meals
$10 = 70 meals
$100 = 700 meals

Q. Why should I support FIND?

A. FIND Food Bank is the main provider of food to those who find themselves food insecure. This could mean a child, a senior, a family or a homeless individual.

Hunger does not Discriminate.
Hunger knows no age limits.
Hunger knows no boundaries.
Serving Hungry Families in The Coachella Valley Since 1983.

Join us in our pledge to fight hunger in the Coachella Valley.

Q. How can I become a partner?

A. Either browse our web site and find the many ways you can make a difference through a donation that fits your needs or call us 760-775-FOOD (3663)

Q. Can I make recurring partner donations?

A. Yes, by donating on a recurring basis allows us to implement programs to better serve those in need.

Q Are volunteers needed?

A. Volunteers are the back bone to our success, we are always looking for opportunities to work with individuals or groups. Call or go to our web site for further details.

From the FIND website 3 January 2012

Tenth Day of Christmas: Heifer International

Heifer International

Heifer International works near and far to end hunger and poverty.  ~dan

Quote . . .To End Hunger & Poverty

Heifer International’s mission is to work with communities to end hunger and poverty and care for the earth.

By giving families a hand-up, not just a hand-out, we empower them to turn lives of hunger and poverty into self-reliance and hope.

With gifts of livestock and training, Heifer projects help families improve their nutrition and generate income in sustainable ways. We refer to the animals as “living loans” because in exchange for their livestock and training, families agree to give one of its animal’s offspring to another family in need. It’s called Passing on the Gift – a cornerstone of our mission that creates an ever-expanding network of hope and peace. (“Our Work” on the Heifer International website)

Heifer International Home Page

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USA – Building Healthy Community Food Systems in Arkansas and Appalachia

Project Profile:

Building Healthy Community Food Systems in Arkansas and Appalachia will help to organize and provide resources and support for local communities to fight hunger, poverty and environmental degradation. The project will specifically target high-need populations in two regions: Lee, Monroe, Phillips, St. Francis and Woodruff counties in the Arkansas Delta and Alleghany, Ashe, Watauga and Wilkes counties in North Carolina, and Johnson County, Tennessee in the high-country of Appalachia

Heifer USA will be facilitating and building the capacity for collaboration among key partners. With partners, this project will work within the value chain to create and support the establishment and sustainability of community food enterprises linking small and medium-scale farmers to diverse markets. Limited resource families will have increased access to, and the ability to influence the quality and availability of, local, healthy food within their own communities. Education and awareness-raising as well as public policy work are also key strategies as part of realizing long-term, systemic change. Please read more about this new initiative

Check out the The Heifer Blog for more stories, inspiration, and encouragement.

Eighth Day of Christmas: Bread for the World

Bread for the World

Over the years Bread for the World has been one of my “go to” organizations. At home and around the world Bread for the World, in action, reminds me that at Baptism the community interceded for us so that we would receive grace in order to have “the courage to will and to persevere.” Challenged to feed the world, members of Bread for the World will themselves to action and persevere in their advocacy. I agree with their heartfelt conviction: “God is up to something and is calling us to share in this new creation.” It is humbling to be part of this effort.   ~dan

Quote . . .Bread for the World is a collective Christian voice urging our nation’s decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad.

God’s grace in Jesus Christ moves us to help our neighbors, whether they live in the next house, the next state, or the next continent.

Confronting the problem of hunger can seem overwhelming.

What can one person do? Plenty.

Bread for the World members write personal letters and emails and meet with our members of Congress.

Working through our churches, campuses, and other organizations, we engage more people in advocacy.

Each year, Bread for the World invites churches across the country to take up a nationwide Offering of Letters to Congress on an issue that is important to hungry and poor people. (“What we do” on the Bread for the World website)

Bread for the World What we do | Bread for the World Home Page

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About hunger

In 2005, the latest year for which data are available, 1.4 billion people in developing countries lived in extreme poverty—on less than $1.25 a day—down from 1.9 billion in 1981.

In the United States, 14.6 percent of households struggle to put food on the table. Nearly one in four children is at risk of hunger.

We can end hunger in our time. Everyone, including government, must do their part.

By making our voices heard in Congress, we make our laws more fair and compassionate to people in need.

Source: About hunger on the Bread for the World website

Second Day of Christmas: Dorcas House

Dorcas House

This vital ministry of compassion and hope is supported by the time, talent, and money of folks like you and me, members of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego. It is not “too far” to go to be Good News. Here is a summary of the needs in Tijuana:

6,000 children live on the street

 80,000 do not attend school

 400 used to live with their parents in prison

 Dorcas House is changing that, one child at a time.

(About Dorcas House web page)

Mission Statement

A ministry of the Episcopal Church to serve and support children in Tijuana. (July 2011 Newsletter)

Dorcas House Home Page

Dorcas House Photo Gallery

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What’s with the funny name?

Dorcas is in the Bible—you can look it up. She was known for her kindness to people in need. Plus, it’s a name people remember. [See Acts 9:36-42]

 How many children live at Dorcas House?

We’re raising 40+ kids on $11,000 a month. Mexican businesses supply food, milk, and occasional building materials. American contributions cover the children’s school fees, uniforms, school supplies, and staff salaries.

 Why are they in foster care?

At least one parent is incarcerated. Until 2002, children of prisoners simply lived in the prison with their parents. The prison system was reformed in 2002 but Dorcas House remains the only foster home that will accept children of prisoners.

 Sounds like a rough place.

You’d be surprised. Our children bear scars from the past, but have hope for a better future. Six girls are in college preparatory classes, and two are in university and doing very well. We also have children with severe needs who are treated by a volunteer medical team and an on-staff psychologist.

 Why should I care about Mexico when there are problems here?

Where else can you do international outreach in your own back yard? The world is getting smaller every day, and the child you save today may be your neighbor tomorrow.

 What can I do?

To sign up for a trip PLEASE CONTACT Suzanne Warren:

To join the medical team, contact Nanette Jiminez:

To make a donation, contact Chris Harris:

Source: About Dorcas House

Christmas Day: Children’s Defense Fund

Children’s Defense Fund

Jesus entered this world as helpless, defenseless, and dependent as you and me and every child ever born. He was born in a stable and his bed was a food trough for animals. From that humble beginning, he escaped the death visited upon other children by a paranoid tyrant (Herod) and with the protection and nurture of his parents and their village was able to grow to adulthood—and he changed the world. All children, if we understand Jesus, are beloved by God and as God’s children have a dignity that calls forth our best efforts to protect, defend, educate, feed, and nurture them into adulthood.

Quote . . .The Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) is a non-profit child advocacy organization that has worked relentlessly for over 35 years to ensure a level playing field for all children. We champion policies and programs that lift children out of poverty; protect them from abuse and neglect; and ensure their access to health care, quality education and a moral and spiritual foundation. Supported by foundation and corporate grants and individual donations, CDF advocates nationwide on behalf of children to ensure children are always a priority. (About Children’s Defense Fund web page)

Mission Statement

The Children’s Defense Fund Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.

CDF provides a strong, effective and independent voice for all the children of America who cannot vote, lobby or speak for themselves. We pay particular attention to the needs of poor and minority children and those with disabilities. CDF educates the nation about the needs of children and encourages preventive investments before they get sick, drop out of school, get into trouble or suffer family breakdown.

Children’s Defense Fund Home Page

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What follows is the latest blog post by Marian Wright Edelman. She tells the story of one girl, Britany Lewis, who has “beaten the odds” of poverty, neglect, and abuse and will now go on to college. After telling Britany’s story  she wonders “… how many more of America’s 16.4 million poor children will never beat the odds stacked against them and grow up to reach their full potential the way [Britany] has? How many millions of Britanys have we already lost? How many poor babies were born today who will never win any awards and whose names we’ll never know—but who will instead grow up hungry, homeless, poorly educated, and unloved on the outskirts of the American dream?” Listen to this story and these questions while remembering the birth of Jesus in these Twelve Days of Christmas. ~dan rondeau

Remembering a poor baby by Marian Wright Edelman

When Britany Lewis was born, no trumpets and glad tidings or even balloons and baby showers greeted her arrival. She was just another poor baby. Britany never knew her father, and for the first six years of her life lived in virtual squalor with five siblings and a mother addicted to drugs who eventually went to prison. Britany barely remembers her, though there are some details of her early childhood that do stand out—like the maggots everywhere in their run-down house, even in the refrigerator.

When Britany was six, her then nineteen-year-old sister was awarded custody of her young siblings. But her sister was hardly prepared to be a parent or provider for her younger sisters and brothers, and the family was forced to live for over a year in a two-door Honda Prelude. The deplorable living conditions and lack of parental guidance caused Britany to miss an entire year of school. No one cared enough to notice or do anything about it. Her sister also began a destructive pattern of physical abuse toward Britany that would last for several years. Once, she dealt a devastating blow that forced Britany to miss two days of school while she nursed a black eye. Britany remembers that the physical pain paled in comparison to the disappointment of tarnishing the perfect attendance record she’d built up and determinedly maintained for several years in a row in the midst of the chaos at home. By then, school had become a refuge.

While millions of children have found safe harbor with relatives, Britany did not until she was 16. Her sister kicked her out and left her then in the care of her grandparents. In this current home Brittany has finally found the love, support, and guidance she needs and deserves. Despite the abandonment, homelessness, and physical abuse that permeated her childhood, Britany managed to stand tall against the odds that constantly threatened to destroy her dreams. Now a high school senior, she has a 3.94 GPA and is, according to her guidance counselor, “a proven force” on her high school campus. Britany serves as Associated Student Body President and is a vigilant community leader in programs such as the Youth Commission-City of Lancaster, California and the Teen Builders Community Service Club. Selected as a “Future Leader” by the Valley Press Newspaper, Brittany believes “I overcame the things from my past because I refuse to let them hold me back. My plan is to continue to do my best in school and help others along the way.”

Britany is now also one of the newest winners of the Children’s Defense Fund’s Beat the Odds® awards program, which recognizes outstanding high school students who have overcome incredible adversity to excel in school and display incredible self-determination and a drive toward achievement through the common thread of hard work, academic excellence, and service to their communities. On December 1, celebrities and child advocates joined CDF’s California office at an awards gala honoring Britany and four other extraordinary high school students from the Los Angeles area. Each of them will receive a $10,000 college scholarship and support services including rigorous SAT prep, one-on-one college counseling, state-wide college tours, internship opportunities, educational and life-skills workshops, and guidance and mentoring throughout the high school and college years.

I am so proud of Britany Lewis and the other youths recognized in Beat the Oddsawards programs in eight cities this year. But how many more of America’s 16.4 million poor children will never beat the odds stacked against them and grow up to reach their full potential the way she has? How many millions of Britanys have we already lost? How many poor babies were born today who will never win any awards and whose names we’ll never know—but who will instead grow up hungry, homeless, poorly educated, and unloved on the outskirts of the American dream?

In the afterglow of Christmas when Christians celebrate the birth of the most famous poor baby in history—the miracle of the incarnation and the belief that God actually came to live among us as a poor, homeless child—I hope we can honor this holy baby in our lives today by raising a mighty voice for justice and protection for all the poor babies and children made in God’s image still left behind in poverty and hopelessness.

Originally posted on 12/21/11 on The Huffington Post by Marian Wright Edelman
Meet and hear Britany: Britany Lewis: 2011 CDF-CaliforniaBeat the Odds® Scholarship Recipient

Still looking for gift ideas after Christmas?

Proudly introducing the St. Margaret’s Online Calendar for the 12 Days of Christmas

Beginning with Christmas Day, and continuing the theme of the Advent Calendar, a new posting will be made each of the 12 Days of Christmas to introduce you to a person, an organization, or a fund that embodies the Gospel imperative to “love your neighbor as yourself.” We celebrate the birth of a poor, homeless baby who grew to reveal God, who is love. We have been invited to love as he loved us. In these 12 Days of Christmas continue to become aware of the many needs that surround us and the many persons, individually and collectively, working to meet those needs.

Come every day to the Online Calendar for the 12 Days of Christmas to open a new “window” and look upon the world into which Christ is to be born. In quiet and prayer, hear what the Spirit is saying to you.

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