Much of my attention the past few weeks has been spent on bread. I’ve been writing the August issue of Bringing Home the Word, four Sunday reflections on the Bread of Life discourse in John’s gospel. We just celebrated the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. Katie Carroll and I worked on a special edition Catholic Update on Eucharistic Adoration. This is what I do here at 28 W. Liberty Street. But recently I’ve been expanding my horizons a bit, down to the corner of Liberty and Vine. And working with real bread.
Our Franciscan Media offices are located in a Cincinnati neighborhood called Over-the-Rhine. We’ve been getting some national press lately for the revitalization projects taking place here. It’s a happening place these days. But it’s also one of the poorest areas in the city. I’ve worked here almost 20 years. It’s almost as familiar as my own home streets.
Now my parish home is on this corner as well. Six months ago I started going to Mass at St. Francis Seraph Church. We have a small congregation and only one weekend Mass. I meet once a month with a small group at the parish center. We chat, we pray, we’re working our way through Richard Rohr’s Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality. And then we make sandwiches. Lots and lots of sandwiches. Usually bologna and cheese. We drop them off at the Catholic Worker House around the corner to be distributed to the hungry people on the streets.
It all came together for me when I started volunteering at the parish soup kitchen at the beginning of the summer. It’s something I was more familiar writing about than actually doing. Now that I’ve taken that step, I can’t believe it took me so long. I was struck by how far removed I am from actual hunger. It’s a far better afternoon break than going to the vending machine!
And because I work in the neighborhood and worship in the neighborhood, I’m starting to recognize faces on the street now: faces from the line in the soup kitchen, faces of people who come to Mass. And I’m realizing more and more that it’s not just doing good works or being charitable. We are indeed all the Body of Christ.
Bread image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net; St. Francis Seraph Church: photo by Diane M. Houdek