During the Civil War 140 years ago people would go out from
Washington, D.C. on Sunday afternoon with champagne and sandwiches to
watch the progress of battles in Virginia. In the course of World War I,
when the war of attrition set in, people would gather at sidewalk cafes
in Europe to discuss casually the latest fashions as well as battle
Here in the United States in recent weeks we have been
glued to television sets and radios following the war in Iraq, with time
out for the Academy Awards from Hollywood.
It is a broken world.
is both a symptom and a sign of our brokenness. It does, however, jar
us out of the routine of every day. The life-and-death struggle raging
before our eyes reproaches us for taking so much in life for granted.
has long been said that there are no atheists in foxholes. When lives
hang in the balance, the experience of God, the encounter with God,
becomes much more immediate. Intensive care units in hospitals and
gravesides in cemeteries provoke similar stirrings of the soul.
prompting to prayer quickens us to realize that we will not be
paralyzed by the brokenness of the world. We have been praying that the
war will be brief, that bloodshed will be kept to the minimum possible,
that it will be the occasion for disarmament and liberation, that there
will be a victory for peace.
We have been praying for the men and
women who are risking their lives in our military services, for their
families and loved ones who are living with so much fear and anxiety,
for our chaplains in service, for the long suffering people of Iraq, for
those who have been delivering humanitarian aid, including various
Catholic relief agencies.
We pray for the prisoners of war, for
those missing in action, for the wounded, for those who have been
killed, who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
We pray for displaced persons, for refugees, for civilians at risk.
pray that this war will not be perceived as a conflict between, on the
one hand, Christians and Jews, and on the other hand, Muslims. We pray
that it will not metastasize into increased warfare and terrorism around
We pray for a just and lasting peace: peace in Iraq,
peace in the Middle East, with a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict, peace in the world, peace in our hearts.
It is a broken world.
we are not merely onlookers, not only bystanders. The cataclysm we are
witnessing moves us to intensify our Lenten exercises of prayer and
fasting. The broken nature of the world stirs us to break out in prayer,
fasting, and good works.
The people of our Diocese have been much
more than spectators in a broken world. You have consistently been more
than generous in your contributions to the Appeal for Catholic Relief
Services, one of the lead agencies providing humanitarian aid to the
people in Iraq.
You don't stand by when you see life fractured and
broken here in the eight counties of Western New York. Your increasing
fidelity to the Catholic Charities Appeal every year is ample proof that
you are not frozen in the face of serious need.
It is fitting
that the Catholic Charities Appeal is conducted every year during the
sacred season of Lent, the time for expanding our good works. In the
rhythm of reflection and action we realize that our efforts are more
than individual and singular. To meet the growing demands, and we are
talking of more than 175,000 people in genuine need of Catholic
Charities services here in Western New York, the work must be organized
Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Buffalo meets
those needs with extraordinary results. The financial audits and the
quality audits testify emphatically to that fact.
cents of every dollar contributed to Catholic Charities go directly to
services in the current year, not to a savings account, not to an
endowment, not to any other purposes but those described in the Appeal.
big week of the Appeal runs from April 6th to April 13th, Palm Sunday,
the door to Holy Week. We know about the brokenness of the world. We
recognize also that we are called to be healers, and that as healers we
will be healed. To heal is to move through death to resurrection.
St. Paul tells us in his Epistle to the Ephesians (2:10):
"We are his handiwork,
created in Christ Jesus
for the good works
that God has prepared in advance,
that we should live in them."
May Easter this year see us closer to peace. May the celebration of Christ's Resurrection see us more fully alive.
Most Rev. Henry J. Mansel
lBishop of Buffalo
March 28, 2003