The Lord hears the cry of the poor

Doug McManaman
Copyright © 2009
Reproduced with Permission

This month the Holy Father prays that international attention towards the poorer countries may give rise to more concrete help, in particular to relieve them of the crushing burden of foreign debt. The poorest countries in the world spend billions of dollars each year merely servicing their debt, yet they have paid it many times over through the years of debt service. This is a grave injustice that continues because the hearts of certain people in key banking positions remain unconverted, and an intellectual conversion only occurs on condition that the heart grants it permission to change.

It is easy to despair in the face of such a huge injustice. This world is very large, and our efforts to bring about change are far more feeble than we tend to realize. But there is the virtue of hope, and the object of that hope is not our own efforts, but the promises of God.

I know of a school principal who one day made an announcement to all the drug dealers in the school that their days were numbered, that she was coming after them and that the school would soon be wiped clean of drug suppliers. She had no idea how she was going to accomplish this, but she stepped forward in fortitude and a faith that hopes in the Lord, and made that announcement. In order to succeed, however, she'd have to rely on the providence of God, and she knew it.

Almost immediately, the administration team found themselves at the right place at the right time, on a number of occasions. By the end of the semester, the main drug dealers had been discovered and expelled. The administration team knows that it was all providence, and it began when they chose not to despair, but to take the first little steps in a spirit of hope; for when that happened, the Lord joined their feeble efforts and of course His steps are much larger and His efforts accomplish so much more than we expect. However, He waits for us to make the first move.

But drug dealers in a school are a local problem; foreign debt is much larger. Nevertheless, there is something we can do. St. Therese of Lisieux, whom Pius the X called the greatest saint of modern times, actually taught that doing ordinary acts with extraordinary love of God has far reaching effects around the globe. She writes: "By our little acts of charity practiced in the shade we convert souls far away, we help missionaries, we win for them abundant alms; and by that means build actual dwellings spiritual and material for our Eucharistic Lord."

In other words, we have the power to change hearts. In the writings of many of the great saints and contemplatives, there is a clear understanding that we do more for the world through a passive giving up of ourselves to God's action than we can through our own actions. Blessed Dom Marmion wrote: "Your passive giving up of yourself to God's action is the most pleasing thing you can do for Him, and most useful for the Church. ...The more one approaches God, the simpler his prayer becomes, till it ends in one long sigh after God, ...While given up to God's action in prayer, you are doing more for God's glory and souls, than all human activity could do. God has no need of our activity. If He wants it, He will point it out to us."

Benedictine abbot Francois-Louis Blosius said that a soul which abandons herself to God's action without reserve allowing Him to operate as He wishes in her, does more for His glory and for souls in an hour than others in years.

We need to pray and reflect on this insight, because it expresses the entire law of Christ's redemption. God hears the cry of the poor, and if we believe this, we need only empty ourselves and pray that God increase charity within us so that we may carry out ordinary acts with great love of God, without the left hand knowing what the right hand is doing. Let us offer these little acts in union with the Holy Father's intention for this month.