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Casa Juan Diego and the Incarnation In Time of Crisis

by L. V. Diaz

The question comes to us each day: How to live the joy of the Incarnation of the eternal Word longed for and anticipated for so many centuries and a reality in our world even now, in the midst of the changes in our lives during this past year and the suffering of so many?

Catholic Workers with COVID

A number of our Catholic Workers became ill with the Coronavirus between the months of March and July. They self-quarantined in one of our houses set apart until they were well. The Catholic Workers who were still standing worked many hours each day in order to provide food for the vastly increased numbers who need food.

Changes at Casa Juan Diego

We have made changes in the way we serve, in order to protect Catholic Workers, volunteers, guests, patients, and other persons who come to us each day. We no longer have people come into the building for food, but take groceries to their cars. We took out a wall and a room in our entrance to make space to organize the large amounts of food we are receiving from donors and giving out as quickly as it comes in. A space outdoors is under construction where we can have a partition with a screen so that we can safely interview those who come to receive help from Catholic Workers or speak to our volunteer doctors.

Our distribution of cloth diapers has become popular because so many are out of work and cannot afford to buy diapers. We have been ordering (locally) cloth diapers in quantity and give a dozen to mothers who request them, along with plastic pants and two large special safety pins.

Works of Mercy Continue

People stream in for food every day. The need is staggering. New volunteers distribute food at Casa Maria/Holy Ghost as well.

Many paralyzed, sick and injured people would not have a home without the generosity of our readers, particularly at this time when homelessness among the undocumented has been growing with the crisis.

Gloria recently asked for help. Not only was her baby born prematurely while she had COVID, but the baby had a spinal cord injury during a difficult breech birth. She is battered, undocumented, and now alone with three children and cannot work while she cares for her injured baby. We can help her with her rent and food during this difficult time. A friend told her that perhaps Casa Juan Diego could help.

When Jorge was assaulted and shot in abdomen, he came to us straight from the hospital to ask us to buy his prescriptions. The doctors had removed the two bullets and he had many staples in his abdomen. They did not put in a drain. When he came back to pick up the medicine, he was bleeding quite a bit. One of our volunteers drove him back to the private hospital to hope to continue his care.

Jesus Confronted the Powers with the Weapons of the Spirit

Dorothy Day was against war and violence. She taught that instead of violence, we must use the Weapons of the Spirit to overcome evil. Jesus confronted the Powers during his time on earth and can help us to do the same (Ephesians 6).

The world is in a crisis larger than the Coronavirus or the crises that individuals suffer each day. People around the world are not only ill but uprooted. More hurricanes, floods, blizzards, and droughts in some countries ruin people’s livelihoods (e.g., Guatemala). Cruel deportations and neglect of refugees, children and adults even during a pandemic cause suffering and death. Billions are at risk.

Refugee Crisis  – No Vaccine for  Climate Change

Joseph Chamie wrote recently in an article on “International Migration Amid a World in Crisis” that “In the coming decades, climate-related migration is expected to become an even more critical challenge than it is today. Increasing numbers of people, especially in the developing regions, will be forced to adapt to global warming and changing environmental conditions, with many deciding to migrate to survive. A recent landmark ruling by the UN Human Rights Committee found it unlawful for governments to return people to countries where their lives might be threatened by a climate crisis. Under such a judgment, tens of millions of people could be displaced and become refugees in the near future due to life-threatening climate and environmental changes. (Journal on Migration and Human Security)

The Rich Are Richer – Can We Ask Them To Help  On a Large Scale?

Economist Jeffrey Sachs recently said “The shocking reality of Covid-19 is that the superrich have gotten fantastically richer, unimaginably so, during the pandemic. The soaring stock market alongside Great Depression unemployment is just what it seems: the most dramatic redistribution of income from the poor to the rich in US history. With tech stocks soaring, for example, Jeffrey Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, and Elon Musk have seen their combined net worth rise by $197 billion since the start of the year while, tens of millions of Americans have been thrown into financial desperation and hunger.”  (Opinion, CNN, of all places)

Sachs suggested that the richest who live in New York City could help their city.

A Better World in God’s Plan

St. Basil said the Christmas feast belongs to all of creation. With that perspective, perhaps seeking an understanding of the Incarnation can help us. We are at a crossroads when we can together choose to make a better world out of the crises we face or watch our earth deteriorate, allow the very rich to become much richer as the poor suffer globally, and the children of the poor and refugees become lost in a technological education beyond the grasp of poor parents who may lack education themselves.

In each generation, Christian people have found in the freedom that comes from God, and within the time allotted to them, new ways to live out their commitment to the Lord. These saints were not great and powerful in the world’s sense, but some of them transformed the world of their time. Others worked small miracles with God’s help.

Most of the people who help Casa Juan Diego are not among the richest. We are grateful for every widow’s mite and every larger contribution that helps to make our work possible.

Pray for us.

Houston Catholic Worker, October-December 2020, Vol. XL, No. 4.