Like Blessed Solanus, we are called to care for the poor

Sometime during Blessed Solanus Casey’s beatification weekend, I saw a tweet in my Twitter feed that said something to the effect of: Though Father Solanus wasn’t able to have the full faculties of a typical priest, he got right, in the end, the only things that really mattered: love of God and love of neighbor.

Truly it was these characteristics that defined the man who is now one step away from sainthood. The life of Blessed Solanus, who served people through his position as monastery doorkeeper and beyond, was consumed with loving God by helping those in need.

As Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect for the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, said in his homily during the beatification Mass on Nov. 18 in Detroit, Blessed Solanus’ “favorite sons were the poor, the sick, the emarginated and the homeless. He always fasted in order to give them their own lunch. He spent hours upon hours patiently receiving, listening to and counselling the ever-growing number of people who came to him.

“Practically speaking, the greater part of his time as porter was dedicated to others: from 9 o’clock in the morning until 9 at night, almost without interruption,” Cardinal Amato continued. “When they asked for him while he was eating, he went immediately, saying: ‘Food is not so important as is to seek to help others.’”

How fitting is it, then, that Father Solanus was beatified on the same weekend Pope Francis marked the first-ever World Day of the Poor. And how beautiful his witness to the only things that, when you come right down to it, really matter. Yet how many of us follow in Father Solanus’s footsteps by regularly caring for the poor?

In his homily on the occasion — the day after the beatification — Pope Francis called this sin of omission “the great sin where the poor are concerned.”

He continued: “Here it has a specific name: indifference. It is when we say, ‘That doesn’t regard me; it’s not my business; it’s society’s problem.’ It is when we turn away from a brother or sister in need, when we change channels as soon as a disturbing question comes up, when we grow indignant at evil but do nothing about it. God will not ask us if we felt righteous indignation, but whether we did some good.”

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It’s ironic that too many of us are guilty of this great sin of omission when Blessed Solanus shows us that it is through loving the poor that we achieve our own salvation. As Pope Francis put it, “they are the ones who open to us the way to heaven; they are our ‘passport to paradise.’ ... To love the poor means to combat all forms of poverty — spiritual and material.”

As we enter into this holy season of Advent, let us prepare our hearts to welcome the Christ Child by walking in the footsteps of Blessed Solanus and caring for those they both loved the most: the sick, the poor, the marginalized and the forgotten.

Blessed Solanus Casey, pray for us!

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