Franciscan Spirit and Life. Virtue: Charity. Table of Contents

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1 Franciscan Spirit and Life Virtue: Charity Table of Contents I Definitions of Charity II Charity: Snapshot of a charitable Capuchin Friar III Prayers for Charity IV Quotations and Scripture Citations related to Charity V Discussion Starter Stories for Charity Charity is a term that can be used in many different contexts. For the Franciscan Spirit and Life Program, we will be focusing on the following aspect of charity: Definition of charity: benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity In modern usage, the practice of charity means the giving of help to those in need who are not related to the giver. Originally in Latin the word caritas meant preciousness, dearness, high price. From this, in Christian theology, caritas became the standard Latin translation for the Greek word agapē, meaning an unlimited loving-kindness to all others, such as the love of God. This much wider concept is the meaning of the word charity in the Christian triplet "faith, hope and charity", as used by the King James Version of the Bible in its translation of St. Paul's Letter to the Corinthians. However the English word more generally used for this concept, both before and since, is the more direct love. The life of Francis is filled with several instances of charity. This time, we decided to include members of Francis brotherhood who epitomized the virtue of charity:

2 Charity: Snapshot of three Charitable Capuchin Friars Bernard was born on 6th February, 1605 in the Sicilian town of Corleone. Corleone was a ferocious town that had succumbed to Spanish rule but not without a fierce fight. Bernard had been well instructed in the Christian faith and practice by his devout parents. But being strong and bold, like his town, he became a soldier and the joined the army fighting the many wars at that time. While in the army he developed a fiery temper and was quick to challenge men to a duel. His life was not noted for its moral content and he had quite a reputation in the company. One day in a duel his opponent fell. Bernard fled thinking that he had killed him. The Capuchins gave the fugitive soldier hospitality. Here he had a chance to think over his past life. God rewarded his prayer by letting him have a real sorrow for his past life and a desire to do penance. The brotherhood in the Capuchins attracted him and he was received as a novice. True to his ideal, Bernard put aside his former life and moved by the Holy Spirit set about the Novitiate to make himself as meek as a lamb among his brothers. God showed him the value of penance. To reform himself the brother began by taking only a little water and food. He drank only water that was bitter or hot and his scant rest was taken on a board. His habit and cell were the poorest in the house. He worked long hours and the sick were his special care. He kept regular fasts and it is said that it is doubtful if he ever ate a full meal in his 37 years that he was in religious life. He frequently ate only bread and water. Never would he wear a new habit or allow new furnishings in his cell. As a consequence he suffered greatly from rheumatism. In time Bernard became gentle and sweet with all at home and out. He had the highest regard for his brothers and his superiors; he only spoke to them on bended knee. Prayer and fasting were his consolation and the Lord rewarded him abundantly. This holy brother became the pride and joy of all the friars. His virtue was a lesson to all. Poverty, simplicity, chastity, silence and love of recollection are lessons that Bernard gives us together with the value of penance. Bernard was beatified in 1768 and his feast is celebrated on January 19th.

3 Father Maurice Belvisotti, 24, was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Vercelli in 1710, and after six years of excellent service he was offered responsible positions. Father Belvisotti felt that the Good Lord had other things in mind for him so after much prayer and consideration he declined the offers and applied to the Provincial of the Capuchins of Turin to be accepted as a Novice. During his year as a Novice, (May to May ) Ignatius, (his new religious name) asked for and received no exemptions. He was placed under the tutelage of a young novice who, although almost half Fr Ignatius' age, set about teaching him in an over zealous manner all about the Order, the spiritual life and even how to say Mass. Fr Ignatius accepted this tutoring with humility and perhaps with a bit of a smile. Once professed, Fr Ignatius was sent to the convent at Saluzzo and was given the office of Sacristan. Then after a short stay as Assistant Novice Master in the Novitiate in Chieri, he was sent to Capuchin Hill in Turin in Again he was Sacristan, not an easy job in a convent with 87 priests and of course no concelebration. In 1731 he was made Novice Master at Mondovi, here he remained until 1744 when an illness of the eyes forced him to relinquish the job. Soon, however, he was well again and even though he was nearly sixty years of age, he accepted the work of head Chaplain of the forces of the King of Piedmont who were fighting against the invading Franco-Hispanic armies. Fr Ignatius was able to win the respect of both friends and enemies by the sacramental and spiritual care he gave them as well as the medical care he administered. Once the war ended he returned to the regular life of Capuchin Hill. He was then given the task of confessor and religious instructor to the Lay Brothers; and it was in this work he was able both to increase and to show his love for the lay brother. His natural appreciation and love for the lay brother was evident in that he did not think twice about lending a hand when he saw it was needed and even as guardian he would do jobs such as questing, which were considered to be traditionally in the realm of the lay brother. As Fr Ignatius advanced in years, he gave his time to visiting the sick and the poor of the city of Turin. Thousands flocked to Capuchin Hill daily to receive a blessing from him or to hear a consoling word. His health failing, he prepared for death. The well loved old friar died a peaceful and gracious death on 22nd of September He was aged 84 and had been in the Capuchins for 54 years. He was beatified by Pope Paul VI on 17th April 1966.

4 A Confessor of the First Order, Saint Francis Mary was born in 1804 and died in His whole life bore witness to that aspect of our life in Christ that realizes it is more blessed to give than to receive. He began his life as a shepherd in the tiny village of Camporosso, near San Remo, from which occupation he gladly contributed to the support of his family. Having always been considerate of other's needs, he joined the Capuchins of the Genoa province and stated "I came to the convent to be its beast of burden". This ideal he was readily able to carry out when he was subsequently appointed as infirmarian and also called upon to go questing. He was neither afraid nor ashamed to call at the palaces of nobles; neither did he hesitate from distributing the alms he had received among the poor of the village. Although he was frequently heckled and assaulted, he continued to go questing in the unfavorable quarters of the seaport, where he would pick up the stones thrown at him and kiss them. Such a man soon had all these people fascinated, especially when talk began concerning miracles, cures and conversions, which reportedly Francis Mary was working. As his fame began to spread, people of all classes were pestering him night and day for advice on every conceivable topic. His personal austerity and observance of poverty made him a well beloved member of his fraternity and, as with the greater majority of Capuchins down through the years, he had a most touching love for Mary our Mother. It was not unusual for him to spend the whole night on his keens adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. With bread, advice, and a sympathetic ear, Francis Mary was ever ready to minister to the sufferings and the needs of all whom Jesus led to him. This life of self sacrifice he was to crown in 1866, with the onset of an epidemic which promised to reap a devastating harvest of pain and death, seized with the desire to make one last magnanimous sacrifice for the Virgin Mary, offering through her hands, his own life to God as a victim of expiation. Our Mother must have heard his request for on September 17th 1866 he departed this life as a victim, the epidemic ceased that very day. Francis Mary of Camporosso was subsequently beatified by Pope Pius XI and Canonized by Pope John XXIII on December 9th 1962.

5 Prayers of Charity Prayer For Charity O my Jesus, Thou who art very Love, enkindle in my heart that Divine Fire which consumes the Saints and transforms them into Thee. O Lord our God, we offer Thee our hearts united in the strongest and most sincere love of brotherhood; we pray that Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament may be the daily food of our souls and bodies; that Jesus may be established as the center of our affections,even as He was for Mary and Joseph. Finally, O Lord, may sin never disturb our union on earth; and may we be eternally united in heaven with Thee and Mary and Joseph and with all Thy Saints. Amen. Prayer of Saint Anthony, Generator of Charity Dear St. Anthony, God wants us to see Christ, our brother, in everyone and love Him truly in word and in deed. God wills that we share with others the joy of His boundless love. St. Anthony, Generator of Charity, remember me in the Father's presence, that I may be generous in sharing the joy of His love. Remember also the special intentions I now entrust to you. (Name them.) Charity: We see several beggars around us. We see them in lanes, streets and public places. They even come to our door steps and beg for food. There are professional beggars in this world. There are thieves. There are also persons who turn beggars under inevitable circumstances. Whoever they are, when they come to our house and beg, we should not scold them. We should not say, "You have good limbs, why cannot you do some work, say work in a hotel and earn". But we should give him food or money in his need. When we do not have anything to offer, we can at least console him. If we are prayerful we may get the leading of God is such matters and circumstances. We should be charitable as commanded by the Holy Spirit. We should never use harsh words against them. You either give beggars food or money, or if you have nothing to offer, at least give them good advice. Some might have entertained angels without knowing them (Heb.13:1,2). Oh! he is amassing wealth by begging. He misuses the money he is given by smoking and gambling. He goes to cinema. Such thoughts should not cross you mind. Who appointed you as his judge? If we think along in these lines, we cannot help anybody. Regarding this, Jesus has said, "If you want to be perfect, go and sell all that you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven. Then you can follow me" (Matt. 19: 21). Sell what you have and give to the poor. Fill your coffers in heaven that never grow old and never decrease. There neither a thief approaches nor the moths corrupt the treasure. Where the treasure is there your heart will be (Luke. 12: 33,34) said Christ. He never asked you to give alms only when you come across

6 deserving beggars. We may be poor but we are not penniless. If may not always be possible for one man to lift a person from his afflictions. But several of us may join together to do this good service. We may fulfill it diligently and perfectly. Let us help the poor, the orphans, the sickly and helpless widows. Doing such good deeds and keeping ourselves undefiled before God are pure religion for God, our Father (James. 1 : 27) O Lord, Give Us More Charity (Henry Alford) O Lord, give us more charity, more self-denial, more likeness to thee. Teach us to sacrifice our comforts to others, and our likings for the sake of doing good. Make us kindly in thought, gentle in word, generous in deed. Teach us that it is better to give than to receive, better to forget ourselves than to put ourselves forward, better to minister than to be ministered unto. And to thee, the God of love, be all glory and praise, now and forever. Amen. All Is Grace from various writings of St Therese of Lisieux "Even if I had performed all the deeds of St.Paul, I would consider myself an unprofitable servant. I would notice that my hands are empty. But that is precisely the cause of my joy: since I have nothing, I shall expect everything from the good God." "We must do everything we are obliged to do: give without reckoning, practice virtue whenever opportunity offers, constantly overcome ourselves, prove our love by all the little acts of tenderness and considerations we can muster. In a word, we must produce all the good works that lie within our strength - out of love for God. But it is in truth indispensible to place our whole trust in Him who alone sanctifies our works and who can sanctify us without works, for He can raise up children to Abraham out of stones. Yes, it is needful, when we have done everything we believe we have to do, to confess that we are unprofitable servants, at the same time hoping that God, out of grace, will give us everything that we need. This is the way of spiritual childhood." The Missionaries of Charity Prayer (Mother Teresa) Dear Jesus, help us to spread Your fragrance everywhere we go. Flood our souls with Your spirit and life. Penetrate and possess our whole being so utterly that our lives may only be a radiance of Yours. Shine through us, and be so in us that every soul we come in contact with may feel Your presence in our soul. Let them look up and see no longer us, but only Jesus. Stay with us and then we shall begin to shine as You shine, so to shine as to be a light to others. The light, O Jesus, will be all from You; none of it will be ours. It will be You, shining on others through us. Let us thus praise You in the way You love best -- by shining on those around us. Let us preach You without preaching; not by words but by our example; by the catching force, the sympathetic influence of what we do, the evident fullness of the love our hearts bear to You. Amen. Giving of Self (this prayer is often attributed to St Ignatius of Loyola) O my God, teach me to be generous: to serve you as you deserve to be served; to give without counting the cost; to fight without fear of being wounded; to work without seeking rest; and to spend myself without expecting any reward, but the knowledge that I am doing your holy will.

7 Story of a Soul Prayer (St. Therese of Liseux) 0 Jesus, my Love, my vocation, at last I have found it... my vocation is Love! Yes, I have found my place in the Church and it is You, 0 my God. who have given me this place; in the heart of the Church, my Mother, I SHALL BE LOVE. Living Our Life And we pray that we can live our life today so that those who don t know God but know us come to know God because they know us. May our actions this day show the love of God in our life. Through Christ our Lord, Amen. Charity Prayer to St. Martin De Porres Most glorious Martin de Porres, whose burning charity embraced not only the needy brethren, but also the very animals of the field, splendid example of charity, we hail thee and invoke thee! From that high throne which thou dost occupy, deign to listen to the supplications of thy needy brethren that, by imitating thy virtues, we may live contented in that state in which God has placed us and carrying with strength and courage our cross, we may follow in the footsteps of Our Blessed Redeemer and His most afflicted Mother, that at last we may reach the Kingdom of Heaven through the merits of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Seed Charity Prayer in the Spirit of St. Francis Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace; Where there is hatred, let me sow seeds of love; Where there is injury, let me sow seeds of pardon; Where there is discord, let me sow seeds of union; Where there is doubt, let me sow seeds of faith; Where there is despair, let me sow seeds of hope; Where there is darkness, let me sow seeds of light; And where there is sadness, let me sow seeds of joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console You in others; to be loved, as to love You in others. For it is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying as a seed to our selfishness that we are born to eternal life. Amen. Prayer to St. Dymphna - Charity You are celebrated St. Dymphna, for your goodness to others. Both in your lifetime, and even more in the ages since, you have again and again demonstrated your concern for those who are mentally disturbed or emotionally troubled. Kindly secure for me, then, some measure of your own serene love, and ask our Lord to give us a share in His life and boundless charity. Amen.

8 Prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas Grant me, O Lord my God, a mind to know you, a heart to seek you, wisdom to find you, conduct pleasing to you, faithful perseverance in waiting for you, and a hope of finally embracing you. Amen. The Anima Christi Soul of Christ, sanctify me Body of Christ, save me Blood of Christ, inebriate me Water from Christ's side, wash me Passion of Christ, strengthen me O good Jesus, hear me Within Thy wounds hide me Suffer me not to be separated from Thee From the malicious enemy defend me In the hour of my death call me And bid me come unto Thee That I may praise Thee with Thy saints and with Thy angels Forever and ever Amen Prayer before St. Alphonsus 0 my God, help me to remember--- That time is short, eternity is long. What good is all the greatness of this world at the hour of death? To love You, my God, and save my soul is the one thing necessary. Without You, there is no peace, no joy. My God, I need fear nothing but sin. For to lose You, my God, is to lose all. 0 my God, help me to remember---that to gain all I must leave all, That in loving You I have all good things: the infinite riches of Christ and His Church, the motherly protection of Mary, peace beyond understanding, joy unspeakable! Eternal Father, your Son has promised that whatever we ask in His Name will be given to us. In His Name I pray: give me a burning faith, a joyful hope, a holy love for Jesus Christ. Give me the grace of perseverance in doing Your will in all things. Do with me what You will. I repent of having offended You. Grant, O Lord, that I may love You always and never let me be separated from You. O my God and my All, make me a saint! Amen. Amen. To live as Francis lived: "Lord, I used to think charity meant giving away something and it does mean that. Thank you for enabling me to see that meaning in a new way: charity means giving myself away in love to you and to others. Please keep me from being stingy in giving of myself."

9 Quotations and Scripture Citations Related to Charity Charity is a virtue of the heart, and not of the hands. Joseph Addison The desire of power in excess caused the angels to fall; the desire of knowledge in excess caused man to fall; but in charity there is no excess, neither can angel or man come in danger by it. Francis Bacon In Faith and Hope the world will disagree, but all mankind's concern is charity. Alexander Pope Charity looks at the need and not at the cause. German Proverb Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become [as] sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. - 1 Corinthians 13:1 Lady, you know no rules of charity, which renders good for bad, blessings for curses. William Shakespeare, form The Tragedy of King Richard III Be good, be kind, be humane, and charitable; love your fellows; console the afflicted; pardon those who have done you wrong. Zoroaster Every charitable act is a stepping stone towards heaven. Henry Ward Beecher May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and gave everlasting comfort and good hope by means of undeserved kindness, comfort your hearts and make you firm in every good deed and word. 2Thessalonians 2: The highest exercise of charity is charity towards the uncharitable. J.S. Buckminster If you haven't got any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.- Bob Hope A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog. Jack London Whatever you are doing, whether you speak or act, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17 With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us finish the work we are in. Abraham Lincoln "The test of our charity is the situation in which we are not loved: someone does not apologize, someone continues to do something that irritates, exasperates, hurts or injures us. In that precise situation, Christ says: 'But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you' (Matthew 5:44)." Leonard Foley, OFM

10 Discussion Starter Stories on Charity Bobby s Valentines Bobby was a special-education boy. He was just bright enough to remain in a regular classroom but was still noticeably different. He was the constant butt of jokes by his classmates, but he never seemed to mind. Every day, as the neighborhood kids walked home from school, Bobby s mother would look out the window to see them all laughing and joking together all except Bobby. He was always walking behind the others, all alone. It was obvious that the other children felt uncomfortable around Bobby and shunned him. One day Bobby burst into the kitchen after school. Mom, guess what? he said. Valentine s Day is two weeks away, and our teacher said we could make valentines and give them to the other kids in our class! His mother s heart sank as she pictured yet another opportunity for Bobby to be excluded. Mom, Bobby continued, I m going to make a valentine for every person in my class! That s very nice, Bobby, his mother answered, fighting back the tears. Over the next two weeks, Bobby worked every afternoon on those valentines. They were truly labors of love. When the big day finally came, he was so excited about taking his valentines to school that he couldn t eat breakfast. But he was also a little worried. I hope I didn t forget anybody, he said as he dashed off to school. Bobby s mother made a fresh batch of his favorite cookies and prepared herself to comfort her son when he returned home brokenhearted from the valentine exchange. She knew how disappointed he would be with the response he got from the other children. That afternoon she saw the same cluster of neighborhood kids walking home together. A half block behind them, all alone, was Bobby. Bobby s mother turned away and placed a plate of cookies on the table. Much to her surprise, Bobby came through the door with a huge smile on his face. What is it, Bobby? she asked. How did it go? With a shout of pure joy, Bobby said, Guess what, Mom! I didn t forget a single kid! Bobby was so focused on giving that he didn t consider the response he would get. He was so concerned about others that he was blind to the fact that he was being slighted. Sometimes when we give or are charitable, our motive is to make people think we re wonderful or to prompt others to give something in return. But that s not the way of Christ. Charity focuses on the work and not on the result. Jesus gave his life for us knowing that we would not receive him (John 1:11). That s agape, God s love. It is unconditional, unselfish, and given with no strings attached. For God so loved the world that he gave... (John 3:16), and he didn t forget a single one of us. May we all be more like Bobby. The Keeper of the Spring This story has been attributed to the late Peter Marshall, former chaplain of the United States Senate.

11 There was once an old man who lived high above an Austrian village along the eastern slopes of the Alps. He had been hired by the village council many years ago to clear away the debris from the pools of water up in the mountain crevices that fed the lovely stream flowing through their village. With faithful, silent regularity, he patrolled the hills, removed the leaves and branches, and wiped away the silt that would otherwise choke and contaminate the fresh flow of water. By and by, the village became a popular attraction for visitors. Graceful swans floated along the crystal clear stream; picnickers gathered along its banks; and the view of the water from local shops and cafes was picturesque beyond description. Years passed. One evening the council met for its semiannual meeting. As they reviewed the budget, they noticed a small amount that was being paid to the keeper of the spring. The village treasurer asked, Who is this keeper of the spring? Why do we keep him on the payroll year after year? No one ever sees him. Have any of you ever met this man? For all we know, he is simply taking our money and doing us no good whatsoever. In my opinion, this person is no longer necessary. Everyone agreed with the treasurer and the council voted unanimously to dismiss the old man. For several weeks, nothing much changed. The village went about with its business as usual. But by autumn, the trees began to shed their leaves. Small branches snapped off and fell into the pools that fed the stream, hindering the rushing flow of sparkling water. One afternoon, someone noticed a slight yellowishbrown tint in the water. A couple days later the water was much darker. Within another week or two, a slimy film covered sections of the water along the banks and a foul odor was soon detected. The swans left the village, as did the tourists. The economy of the village was in serious peril. Likewise was the health of the village, as many were getting sick from drinking the water. An emergency meeting of the village council was held. After much discussion, they realized their error in judgment and they hired back the old keeper of the spring. And within a few weeks, the beautiful stream came back to life. The swans and visitors gradually returned, as did the vitality and well being of the little village in the Alps. (From Improving Your Serve by Charles Swindoll, [Dallas: Word, 1981]) What the keeper of the spring meant to the little village, we Christians mean to the world. Jesus called us salt, which is to say that we are preservers of what is good and true in the world. Like the old man in the mountains, we are called to serve and to be faithful. We may not get a lot of recognition or appreciation for our efforts, but we have the power to change the world. That s what Jesus wants us to do. He put us here to serve, and in a very real sense, the well being of the whole world is dependent upon us. We do make a difference! This is why charity exists. This is why we are called to be charitable.

12 The Painting in the Warehouse As owner of the world s most influential newspaper, William Randolph Hearst was a very rich and powerful man. He was also an art collector. He loved beautiful paintings. One day, Mr. Hearst saw a picture of two particularly exquisite works of art and decided that he just had to have them for his personal collection. He summoned one of his staff members and told him to mount a search to find out where those paintings were located and to purchase them, regardless of the cost. His staff spent weeks traveling, writing letters, and making phone calls to locate the two paintings. Finally they were found in a warehouse on the other side of town in the very city in which Hearst operated his newspaper. Hearst was filled with anticipation as his staff led him to the warehouse where the paintings were located. When they arrived at the warehouse, Hearst was suddenly confused. This is where the paintings are located? he asked incredulously. Yes, responded his staff member. Is something wrong? Well, I already own this warehouse and everything in it! he said. Those paintings have been mine all along! Have you ever felt like you were a nobody, a person who would never amount to anything? When you are feeling that way, it s easy to look with envy at other people who are more talented, more gifted, better looking, and feel bad about yourself. But it s likely that you haven t checked out the painting in the warehouse. God has given you talents and abilities that you probably don t even realize you have. The key is to discover them and to use them. By using them, you can become a vision of God s love. This is true charity.

13 A Picture of God A little boy sat down at the kitchen table with his crayons and a big sheet of blank paper, and he started to draw. His father, noticing the youngster hard at work at the table, stopped to look. What are you doing, son? I m drawing a picture of God, said the little boy. But son, said the father, You can t draw a picture of God. Nobody knows what God looks like. The little boy thought for a moment and said, Well they will when I get through! Most people would agree with the father in the story. No one knows what God looks like. But maybe that s one of the reasons God created us and called us to serve him. He created us in his own image so that we could in a sense show the world what God looks like. When we are being conformed into the image of his son, Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29), people can see in us a reflection of our Heavenly Father. All of us have the ability to represent God to the world and to do it in our own way. You don t need to worry whether your picture of God looks like everybody else s. You are to serve God uniquely, with the gifts and abilities that God has given to you, and when you get through, people will have a little better idea of what God looks like. They will see God in you!

14 Who Me? There was once a college student who was struggling in many areas of his life. He spent a great deal of his time feeling angry and frustrated. When he could stand it no longer, he went to the dim and seldom-used chapel on campus. He paced up and down the aisles, slapping the back of the empty pews. He yelled, he cried, and he raged at God. God you created the world what could you possibly have been thinking? Look at the problems people face. Look at the pain, suffering, and hunger. Look at the neglect, the waste, the abuse. Everywhere I look, I see messed-up people, hurting people, lonely people! The young man ranted and raved on and on. Finally, exhausted, he sat in the front pew and looked hopelessly at the cross. Its tarnished surface reflected the dusty sunlight filtering in through the stained glass windows. It s all such a mess! This world you created is nothing but a terrible mess! Why even I could make a world better than this one! And then the young man heard a voice in the silence of that dusty chapel that made his eyes open wide and his jaw drop. And that is exactly what I want you to do. It s easy to identify problems that exist all around us. And sometimes we wonder why God doesn t solve them all for us. But that s why God created the church. That s why God put you here at this particular time and place. He has gifted you and given you the power to make a difference in the world. God has commissioned the church to be the hands and feet of Jesus in a broken world. That s why we are called the body of Christ. Will you do your part?

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