Columnists Mark my words

Here’s some food for thought

Father Mark Goldasich is the pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Tonganoxie. He has been editor of the Leaven since 1989.

by Father Mark Goldasich

I’ve started wearing a facemask even when I’m at home. It’s not to protect me from the virus, but to keep me from snacking every time I go through the kitchen!

This clever meme rings so true. In the Croatian community where I grew up, food was an essential part of any gathering. One wouldn’t dream of having a party and not include at least three types of meat, Croatian potato salad and slaw, a variety of vegetables, povitica and strudel, and, of course, plenty of beverages to wash it all down.

Another unwritten rule was to prepare enough food for those expected to be in attendance . . . as well as any random tour bus that might, just possibly, show up. And you would be talked about forever if you didn’t provide everyone with a care package to take home.

I remember taking my mom aside one day when some friends were visiting to gently remind her that “no” means “no” when someone refuses “thirds.” It didn’t mean they didn’t like what was served!

I feel so blessed to have never experienced hunger. Sadly, that’s not true for so many. I return often to this story from Mother Teresa:

“Some time ago,” she recalled, “a gentleman came to our house and said, ‘There is a Hindu family with eight children that have not eaten for some time. Kindly go and see them.’ I took rice with me and I went, and when I arrived, I could see the children’s faces shining with hunger.

“I gave the rice to the mother. She divided it into two and went out. When she came back, I asked: ‘Where did you go and what did you do?’ She answered: ‘They are hungry also.’

“I asked, ‘Who are they?’ And she said, ‘A Muslim family next door.’

“I was struck very much — not so much by what she did as by the fact she knew they were hungry; that she saw their hunger, she felt their hunger and, therefore, she had the courage to share with them. This is the greatness of poor people. Love, to be true, has to hurt.” (Story found in Anthony Castle’s “More Quips, Quotes & Anecdotes for Preachers and Teachers.”)

Sometimes, I live in a bubble. Over the past few weeks, a good number of stories in The Leaven have popped that bubble, especially when it comes to the issue of hunger. Obviously, we Catholics have a deep, spiritual hunger for the Eucharist. But I’d forgotten those folks who feel the pangs of physical hunger.

How gratifying it’s been to read about people in the archdiocese who’ve stepped forward — courageously — to address this issue: Catholic Charities, individual parishes, The Learning Center and the “lunch ladies” still feeding kids even though there’s no school, just to name a few.

Recently, a childhood friend of mine, local artist Mike Savage, painted an original work to raise funds for No Kid Hungry Kansas City. With each donation, people were entered into a drawing for the painting.

Hoping for an ambitious $1000, he ended up raising over six times that amount!

Very few of us have the creative talent to do what Mike did, but we are all capable of doing something to satisfy the hunger of those struggling during this pandemic. It can be as simple as picking up a little “extra” on the next grocery run to donate to a food pantry, or preparing a meal to drop off for an elderly neighbor or a frazzled family.

Any effort to feed the hungry, no matter how small, can help us to feel their hunger — and come to understand what “comfort food” is really all about.

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Fr. Mark Goldasich

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