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Letter of Thanksgiving

Recently, a prominent theologian from a seminary was visiting us. When the issue of how we raise money for Casa Juan Diego came up, a Catholic Worker blurted out, “We pray a lot.”

“Give me a copy of those prayers. I demand a copy of those prayers,” the theologian humorously insisted.

Unfortunately, there is no easy formula for underwriting all the efforts of Casa Juan Diego. We haven’t figured out how it all happens ourselves. In God’s providence it just happens from year to year and we do pray a lot, and generous readers keep us open.

Of course, we are here working long hours and accepting many people, some of whom are pretty sick, taking risks, trying to feed, clothe, and provide medical care and a myriad of other services. We are accused of having overachieving work-aholics—and what a gift they are!—but we suspect our support comes because of people who know what we are about, ordinary people trying to meet the extraordinary needs of the unfunded poor who come to us.

We are the beneficiaries of our “humble efforts.” The more we give, the more joyful we become. the more we receive. We give thanks to the poor for allowing us to live out the Gospel.

But we not only have to embrace the work, we have to embrace the Cross, i.e., the problems the suffering, the difficulties, the tragedies, the failure, the humiliations that come our way.

A few years back if someone had told us of certain problems we were going to face in our lives, we would have responded that we could not stand it. We have prayed, like the psalmist, “Lord, who can stand it?” But we not only stand it, we have to embrace it, i.e., the cross in whatever form it comes. Then, we know, resurrection follows, with true joy. Who underwrites Casa Juan Diego? It Is the Paschal Mystery.

The paradox of all this is the joy that permeates our work, even though it is hard (apparently we aren’t genuine workaholics, having joy). It is that Christmas spirit, the joy of giving and serving (para servirle) as opposed to the shallow joy of the fairly recent past, which tended to depict Jesus as the great playground supervisor instead of the participant in the Paschal Mystery.

So, we give thanks to you, the generous people who assist us year after year, month after month. You are part of the Paschal Mystery and the joy that permeates Casa Juan Diego.

We are grateful people.

Very gratefully in Christ,

Mark and Louise and all at Casa Juan Diego


Houston Catholic Worker, January-February, Vol. XXXV, No. 1.