John Allen writes:
In a similar vein, I asked myself this week what I would do if somebody offered me a blank check to spend on some project in American Catholicism. The more I think about it, the more my CJ-esque reply would be, “Hire a nurse for every parish in the country.”As with African roads, parish nursing may not be the most glamorous idea around. But looking down the line it’s tough to imagine a step of greater practical value -- regardless of whatever Washington does or doesn’t do with health care reform.
Not just of practical value, but of evangelical value. His post reminded me of these two easy essays by Peter Maurin:
Feeding the Poor at a SacrificeIn the first centuriesof Christianitythe hungry were fedat a personal sacrifice,the naked were clothedat a personal sacrifice,the homeless were shelteredat personal sacrifice.And because the poorwere fed, clothed and shelteredat a personal sacrifice,the pagans used to sayabout the Christians"See how they love each other."In our own daythe poor are no longerfed, clothed, shelteredat a personal sacrifice,but at the expenseof the taxpayers.And because the poorare no longerfed, clothed and shelteredthe pagans say about the Christians"See how they pass the buck."The Duty of HospitalityPeople who are in needand are not afraid to beggive to people not in needthe occasion to do goodfor goodness' sake.Modern society calls the beggarbum and panhandlerand gives him the bum's rush.But the Greeks used to saythat people in needare the ambassadors of the gods.Although you may be calledbums and panhandlersyou are in factthe Ambassadors of God.As God's Ambassadorsyou should be given food,clothing and shelterby those who are able to give it.Mahometan teachers tell usthat God commands hospitality,and hospitality is still practicedin Mahometan countries.But the duty of hospitalityis neither taught nor practicedin Christian countries.
Nathan O'Halloran, SJ