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Catholic Relief Services update on Haiti

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Following is a news release from Catholic Relief Services updating its Haiti efforts:

Baltimore, MD, January 13– Catholic Relief Services is readying food and other aid to help families affected by a powerful earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12. CRS has committed an initial $5 million (US) to help survivors of the devastating quake.

“This is a massive disaster,” says CRS’ Country Representative in Haiti, Karel Zelenka. “We should be prepared for thousands and thousands of dead and injured.” In a brief call on Tuesday night before phones went down, Zelenka described clouds of smoke surrounding Port-au-Prince and said, “I’ve experienced earthquakes before, but I never felt anything like this. This is a major hit. And it was direct.”

While the CRS office in Port-au-Prince is undamaged, a building directly across from it collapsed. CRS has approximately 340 staffers in Haiti, of which 120 are in Port-au-Prince. Many staffers slept outside on Tuesday night to avoid building collapses from aftershocks.

CRS commits extra $5 million to Haiti relief

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In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti, Catholic Relief Services made an initial commitment of $5 million for immediate relief, an amount that will probably rise significantly, according to John Rivera, director of communications for CRS in Baltimore.

Rivera said the agency has “pre-positioned” emergency supplies in Haiti for about 5,000 people. The supplies, which include kitchen kits of pots and pans, food, hygiene kits and temporary shelter, is already in place because Haiti “is so disaster prone.”

Supplies for another 2,500 people will be trucked in from neighboring Dominican Republic, he said.

CRS international staff in Haiti, said Rivera, stayed at the agencies office in Port au Prince the night after the quake, but slept outside on the ground because of the aftershocks. A building across the street from the office had collapsed.

The day after the quake, he said, it was difficult to begin to assess the dimensions of the disaster because of the lack of communications and because the basic infrastructure in Port au Prince was poor to nonexistent even before the shock.

Spirituality is healthy

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Many pscyhologists and others in the health professions have recognized the vital contribution spirituality makes to mental and physical well-being. Fran Ferder, a Catholic sister with a long and active practice in psychotherapy, points out that the Genesis accounts in the Bible describe God as Energizer, Breath-Sharer, one who hovers, who breathes life into and wants to relate to all of creation. Those same qualities, Ferder notes, also describe people who are psychologically healthy and robust.

Such people behave in ways that give life to others. They attend to and want to relate with others in productive and meaningful ways. "When our lives most reflect the sacred pattern that brought us into being," Ferder writes, "perhaps then we are closest to the holy, and therefore the most whole and healthy." The longing for holiness and wholeness is also good mental hygiene, she concludes. Good spirituality is good mental health.

Jan. 13, St. Hilary of Poitiers, doctor of the church

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"I find particularly beautiful the following formula of St Hilary: 'God knows not how to be anything other than love, he knows not how to be anyone other than the Father. Those who love are not envious and the one who is the Father is so in his totality. This name admits no compromise, as if God were father in some aspects and not in others.'"

--Pope Benedict XVI on Saint Hilary of Poitiers

Hilary was a pagan, who became a Catholic, and a husband and father who became a bishop. He lived from about 300 to about 368.

He fought against Arianism, which "denies that the Son is of one essence, nature, or substance with God; He is not consubstantial (homoousios) with the Father, and therefore not like Him, or equal in dignity, or co-eternal, or within the real sphere of Deity".

'Grayby Boom' a potential windfall for the Church

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tEcclesiastes may want us to believe there’s nothing new under the sun, but according to a UN report issued this week, not so. Rapid aging of the human population, the report asserts, is a demographic trend of mammoth consequence, and one “without parallel in the history of humanity.”

tThat’s a bold claim, especially since the modern science of demography really didn’t take shape until the 18th century. But without doubt, today’s demographic landscape – dominated by declining birth rates and rapid aging across the planet – represents a startling inversion of the assumptions that have long dominated the field, the sound-bite version of which was the “population bomb.”

If the old demographic worry was relentless population increase, today’s anxieties cut in exactly the opposite direction.

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September 12-25, 2014

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