Aid to the Church in Need is a Channel of Grace which flows from its benefactors to its beneficiaries…and back again. Nowhere perhaps is this more evident than with ACN’s programme for administering Mass Stipends. In 2016 ACN international arranged to have over 1.4 million masses celebrated throughout the world.

The stipends for these Holy Masses originate primarily in the economically-developed world and the Masses are invariably celebrated by impoverished priests labouring in the most economically challenged of the Lord’s vineyards.  So it is that we have a Virtuous Circle of Grace, benefactors request prayers and provide existential support for priests who labour in materially-challenging circumstances and the priests then pray for the benefactors and their intentions. Material support begets spiritual reward and the whole people of God in this world and in the next benefit.

Quite clearly while the Catholic Church is a significant and manifest temporal reality as evidenced in its buildings, its priests, its religious, its many and varied charitable activities (the Catholic Church is by far the largest and most effective charitable organisation in the world) it is the Church’s spiritual reality which is paramount and defines it and its mission.

And here is it is that ‘the Love of Christ urges us onwards’ (2COR 5:14). It is the Love of Christ acting under the guidance of the Holy Spirit which drives the Church onward in its mission to teach the world ‘the Art of Living’, the Art of Living as human beings whom our heavenly Father, has created in His image and likeness and called forth each by name.

How easy it is in our daily grind to forget this truth about the great gift of life each of us has received. How easy it is to overlook and under-value the great opportunity God has given each of us to ‘love Him and love our neighbour as ourselves for the love of God’.  The fact is that every last one of us has been invited by our loving God to take the gifts of love we have received and put them into practice.

Obviously of course how each of us respond to God’s invitation will differ from one person to another and indeed from one day to another. This is the high adventure of our Faith, our life-long adventure that begins in the high dependency of infancy and never ceases until we shake off our ‘mortal coils’. But on that journey, be it long or short, one of intense temporal struggle or of relative comfort we need to remember that we do not journey alone, God is always there, walking beside us, always ready to ease our pain, to bind our wounds, to take on our sufferings… that is of course if we let Him.

Today, like yesterday and like tomorrow, the world struggles with God for the souls of men either denying Him or by proposing false Gods and idols. How easy it is to be led astray. How difficult it seems to be to find the ‘Narrow Gate’ and follow ‘Little Way’, ‘the Way of Truth’.

And here it is that we need to remind ourselves that the Catholic Church is the means through which Jesus Christ, the Son of God, continues to redeem  humanity from itself and offer the Hope of eternal Joy to everyone, one sinner at a time, one day at a time until the end of time.

ACN benefactors in sustaining the Church’s salvific mission to the world are doing God’s work. They are doing it every day, sustaining priests, religious and laity in their efforts to give witness to the Gospel in the most difficult of places, at the most difficult of times and among the most hostile of people.

In doing this they are helping to keep Christ’s light shining brightly in this dark world and in consequence they are keeping Christ’s light shining brightly in their lives and in the lives of their families.

J F Declan Quinn

This article can be found in Mirror 0517.