World Day of the Poor: A CRS Resource for a Eucharistic Encounter

At the close of the Jubilee year of Mercy this past June, Pope Francis named the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time the “World Day of the Poor.” In his Apostolic letter (that’s well worth a read, if you haven’t already), he explains that “This Day is meant, above all, to encourage believers to react against a culture of discard and waste, and to embrace the culture of encounter.”

This encounter, for Pope Francis, is wholly Eucharistic: “If we truly wish to encounter Christ, we have to touch his body in the suffering bodies of the poor, as a response to the sacramental communion bestowed in the Eucharist.  The Body of Christ, broken in the sacred liturgy, can be seen, through charity and sharing, in the faces and persons of the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters.  Saint John Chrysostom’s admonition remains ever timely: ‘If you want to honor the body of Christ, do not scorn it when it is naked; do not honor the Eucharistic Christ with silk vestments, and then, leaving the church, neglect the other Christ suffering from cold and nakedness’ (Hom. in Matthaeum, 50.3: PG 58).”

To help parishes learn about and observe this day, Catholic Relief Services has provided a wonderful bilingual “parish packet with prayers, homily helps, general intercessions, and a bulletin insert.” Also included is a beautiful prayer for families to pray together at home:

Dear God, Our Father,
As we remember the World Day of the Poor,
We pray for our family and for all families who experience poverty around the world.
When we eat, we thank you for our meal,
And we remember families who do not have enough food.
We do not waste what we have, and we share our food with others.
When we play, we thank you for the gift of free time and safety
And we pray especially for all the children around the world who are not
able to play freely.
When we pray, we thank you for our family
And we pray for all families around the world who live in poverty.
May you be with them, and help our family to always remember to reach out to them.
November 19, 2017 will be the first time this day is observed in the church. The resource from CRS could be a good start for parishes that do not have anything planned yet. How is your parish observing this inaugural World Day of the Poor?

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