When faced with the tragedy in Nepal often our first reaction if not indifference, is a kind of inaction and confusion if we should or even could do something about it. Most times we think world powers and more important people take care of world crisis. Yet as Christians this is not how we are called to respond. Responding with compassion is difficult, especially with a nation that we may not be that familiar with or a place so far away. So how do we respond?
Step One Having an Open Heart
The first step in responding to a crisis for each of us is first and foremost being aware and open to finding out about crises or injustice in our communities, nation, and around the world. We receive so much information yet often struggle with or even blankly and passively receive it. Recognizing in a human way our Brothers and Sisters suffering near or far is the first step to true compassion and what we are called to do as Christians.
Step Two Delving Deeper
The next step is to move beyond the initial stage of recognizing suffering in others or an injustice. We must move beyond the face value and delve deeply into an issue. Find out all we can know. This may mean sacrificing a small amount of time. There is so much information on the internet readily available we should be able to easily take a deeper look into many different issues. This step is important because we move beyond prejudice, myths, and stereotypes that are a result of our limited experience and knowledge. In point of fact it’s difficult to know and experience everything, as well as it being impossible to be an expert in everything!!! But being open to learning about other cultures and issues we think we may know a lot about, we act in humility. This is the most difficult step because it may not be easy hearing all the different perspectives on a given issue, but it’s important to hear them all in order to form our conscience.
Step Three Reflection
The third step is to take a pause and reflect on what our Catholic faith informs us in the injustice or tragedy we are confronted with. We must do this after we have learned all the social issues or what is happening on the ground of a particular situation because it informs our judgment and our conscience in being able to make a good decision. What we should do is consult the Catechism of the Catholic Church and look up referenced Holy Scriptures and pray.
Step Four Action
The last step in responding is deciding upon a particular action. It doesn’t just mean writing a check but deciding to make a change, to do justice itself! Maybe you’ll continue to expand your awareness on the issue at hand and thereby expanding awareness of the issue or injustice to others. Perhaps you’ll make a lifestyle change. Maybe it will influence who we will be praying for and who we pray with. Advocating is another option where there are two branches of action, political or economic. In the case of Advocating, we can give our money not as a hand-out but as a way of free speech in what we believe to be just, this includes how we spend money on a monthly basis and what products we choose to buy. Political advocacy is when we use our voice to reach out to our representatives and vote in a fashion in which we advocate for the issue or people in consideration.
Making a Tangible Difference
In the case of Nepal I've included a link to Catholic Relief Services (CRS) website in which you can find out what CRS is doing in Nepal but I encourage you as part of the above process to learn more about Nepal. I encourage you to learn about Nepal's geography, demographics, and a little about the economic situation as well as political. Spend some time getting to know it's people through learning about the cultures present. We again are called to do this not because it is easy but because we are called to stand in solidarity with all mankind especially the poor and those suffering. Just as God made Adam and Eve so too everyone is accorded a certain dignity, as well as given inalienable rights not from the state but from God Himself who gives mankind reason and purpose from the moment of creation. It is our responsibility to form our conscience in a way that recognizes these realities.
It is not enough to simply write a check and hope for the best. We are called to solidarity, we are called to be the salt and light of the earth, we are called to be our brothers keeper! So take a look at Catholic Relief Services website here and make a measurable difference in the world!
Husband & father of four, graduate from Quincy University and currently a grad student at Franciscan University. Director of Faith Formation & Youth Ministry for All Saints Parish since 2011.