World Day of the Poor


'It's about giving and receiving...we are all poor in some way'.

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Official logo for the World Day of the Poor

 

The inaugural World Day of the Poor will be marked across the world on Sunday, 19th November. 

In his message released in advance of the celebration, Pope Francis calls on us to ‘draw near to the poor, to encounter them, to embrace them and let them feel the warmth of our love...’.

The World Day of the Poor was instituted by Pope Francis at the end of the Jubilee for Mercy. It is reported that he got the idea following an encounter with thousands of social excluded people at the Vatican.

During his papacy, the Argentinean pontiff has continually highlighted the ‘throw-away’ culture that exists in our world while also promoting a greater culture of ‘encounter’. These themes are again evident in World Day of the Poor message.

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Pope Francis has lunch with the poor in Bologna, Italy last month. Image courtesy of ANSA.

 

This Day is meant...to encourage believers to react against a culture of discard and waste and to embrace the culture of encounter... “

He went on to share about the ‘outstanding example’ of St. Francis of Assisi.

Poverty means having a humble heart...Poverty is an interior attitude that avoids looking upon money, career and luxury as our goal in life and the condition for our happiness. Poverty instead creates the conditions for freely shouldering our personal and social responsibilities...”

Like St. Francis of Assisi, the OLA Founder, Fr. Augustine Planque was a great believer in simplicity and humbleness. These values continue to this day with Sisters in mission areas always careful to ensure that the poorer members of society have access to quality education and healthcare

Christian communities across the globe will mark the first World Day of the Poor against the backdrop of an increasingly unequal world.

An Oxfam report released earlier this year revealed that the richest 1% own more wealth than the rest of the planet.

Reports also show that the prevailing ‘throw-away culture’ is impacting on the environment with the poorest disproportionately affected.  A 2014 UN climate panel study found that the poor and the weak did the least to cause climate change yet will be the first in line to be affected by it.

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A PC dump. Image courtresy of the www.fcjsisters.wordpress.com.

 

In the face of these great challenges, Pope Francis warns that we cannot remain ‘passive’.

I invite the whole Church, and men and women of good will everywhere, to turn their gaze on this day to all those who stretch out their hands and plead for our help and solidarity.  They are our brothers and sisters...

This Sunday, if there are poor people where we live who seek protection and assistance, let us draw close to them...let us welcome them as honoured guests at our table; they can be teachers who help us live the faith more consistently...they show us in a quiet and often joyful way, how essential it is to live simply...”

He also stated that we should not dismiss our volunteer work or impromptu acts of generosity but hoped they would lead to a ‘true encounter with the poor and a sharing that becomes a way of life’.

He concluded by reflecting on the power of prayer.

Let us not forget that the Our Father is the prayer of the poor. The Our Father is a prayer said in the plural: the bread for which we ask is “ours”, and that entails sharing, participation and joint responsibility.  In this prayer, all of us recognize our need to overcome every form of selfishness...

"The poor are not a problem: they are a resource from which to draw as we strive to accept and practice in our lives the essence of the Gospel.

 - Links

  • Read Pope Francis' full message here.
  • Click here to read the Oxfam report.
  • For more of Fr. Augustine Planque, click here.