Bread March-April 2013 - Page 3

On Faith Lent, a Time to Focus on Civic Engagement Lent is traditionally a time of re- lence and inequality. Allowing them flection and sacrifice. Some loudly– to touch us personally is painful. Durand proudly–announce what they are ing this season, can each of us risk “giving up” for the season, but others breaking our own hearts by tapping take seriously the admonition from into this suffering so that it becomes Jesus that, “when you fast, put oil on part of who we are? Lent, a time of your head and wash your face, so that private self-reflection, is a perfect time it will not be obvious to others that to do this—just as Jesus took on the pain of the world. you are fasting” (Matthew. 6: 16-17). As Gospel people, we are then Throughout the year, including during Lent, I believe that faith-filled called to turn our internal pain into action for justice. people are called to Our response transengage in the publates into civic enlic sphere—but not “Together, as a community of faith, we are stronger, gagement so that because of a desire our voices blend to be “public.” In- and it becomes far more and become one stead, this call rises difficult for those in power with those of sufferfrom the obligation to ignore us.” ing people who are to live the Gospel in not heard. Combintoday’s world. I see Lent as a special time to move closer ing our voices makes all of our voices to God in an intentional way. Answer- louder as we stand together in the ing the Gospel call to act for justice quest for justice. Civic engagement shows a comwill strengthen our bonds with one another—and ultimately, of course, mitment to faithfully live the Gospel by being hope in our troubled world. with God. Public engagement begins with Those of us engaged in social justice listening intently to the needs of the advocacy know how difficult it can be people, and then actively responding. at times to become that hope. It is far Human needs and suffering are more too easy to become disillusioned with than evident in this nation so deeply politics and power when they stand marked by continuing poverty, vio- in the way of justice. For example, it Photo courtesy NETWORK By Sister Simone Campbell may be clear to us that our country must address rising income disparities for both moral and practical reasons, but partisan interests build huge roadblocks. Those barriers can drain us of hope, and we are tempted to disengage. It is during those times of discouragement that we most need each other. Together, as a community of faith, we are stronger, and it becomes far more difficult for those in power to ignore us. That, in turn, makes it easier for us to transform injustice into justice. I hope we will all use Lent as a time to foster a new commitment to civic engagement that will stay with us long after Easter has come and gone. By taking this action, we can truly call ourselves Gospel people. Sister Simone Campbell is the executive director of NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby. She is a leader of “Nuns on the Bus.” www.bread.org 3