Homelessness is a complicated issue. People experience homelessness for many reasons, and there are different types of homelessness.
The experience itself differs from person to person and family and to family — families represent about a third of all those experiencing homelessness, a significant increase in recent years. And, while stable housing is the ultimate goal for all, the challenges to getting there can be numerous and complicated.
Homelessness is not a problem unique to big cities and urban areas. People experience homeless all across the country. Misconceptions about this issue abound, and the needs of people and the demands of justice are many.
Everything we do on our Ignatian journey ought to begin in prayer. So, let us pray:
O Lord, to whom no one is a stranger
and from whose help no one is ever distant,
look with compassion on those without a place to live;
restore them, we pray, to a home of their own,
and give us a kind heart to help the homeless in their need.
We ask this through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
(Source: Catholic Charities USA)
For many of us, the first step is to gain a better understanding of the issue both nationally and in our own communities. Part of this means getting to know the people affected by homelessness and hearing about their experiences. Then, we can figure out what we can do to help.
|FACTS AND FIGURES|
State of Homelessness in America (National Alliance to End Homelessness)
"A total of 552,830 people [in the US] were experiencing homelessness on a single night in 2018." Homelessness affects people in every state in the country, and it is not limited to big cities and urban areas. Learn more about who is affected by homelessness in your state.
|MORE ABOUT HOMELESSNESS|
Homelessness in America (National Coalition for the Homeless)
Homelessness is a complicated issue, and people experience homelessness for different reasons and in different ways.
Ignatian Spirituality Project
The Ignatian Spirituality Project (ISP) offers retreats based on Ignatian spirituality to men and women living on the margins of society.
Learn more about ISP's mission and work in this short video.
Stories of Hope (Ignatian Spirituality Project)
ISP offers its retreatants an experience of hope and healing, and at the heart of this work is an invitation to share one's story with others.
Click here for stories from ISP.
1 John 3:11-24
"How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?"
|WHERE TO BEGIN|
"How to Help Homeless People in Your Community" (Invisible People)
"Ever feel like you want to help with a cause but don’t know where to start? If you want to make a difference, try helping homeless people in your area. With so many people living on the streets or in shelters, the amount of change needed can feel overwhelming. With that in mind, here are ways you can help and what to keep in mind."
Ignatian Spirituality Project
The Ignatian Spirituality Project operates nationwide. Find out how you can engage and invest in ISP in your community.
A list of locations where ISP offers retreats is available here.
Engage with ISP.
|GET INVOLVED – TAKE ACTION!|
Contribute, Advocate, Reach Out, Educate (National Coalition for the Homeless)
"You can help end homelessness by simply CAREing.
C – Contribute (food drives, money, etc.)
A – Advocate
R – Reach Out (volunteering)
E – Educate"
Find out how you can take action against homelessness in your community with these tips from the National Coalition for the Homeless.
|AN EXAMEN FOR ENCOUNTERING ONE WHO IS HOMELESS|
by Fr. Bill Creed, S.J.
I ask for Light from God’s Spirit to give me a Light I do not yet have.
I open my hands as a gesture of my interior openness to greater awareness.
I thank God for the gift of my life and I ask to be open to see and be grateful for gifts in my life.
I bring to mind a person I have seen or spoken with who was experiencing homelessness.
I notice how this person is dressed, gestures or actions, perhaps words spoken.
I imagine what MAY have led them to this current experience. I do not censor my imaginings but trust that whatever comes to mind MAY give me some sense of this person’s history since I am aware that persons who are homeless are human beings, first and foremost, and often live with physical and mental illnesses and disabilities, are vulnerable to addictive behaviors, and experience isolation and alienation in many relationships. I am aware that the greatest poverty is sometimes not to be thought of, not to be included, not to feel worthy of love.
I notice the thoughts and feelings which are awakened in me regarding this person.
I share these thoughts and especially my feelings with God, talking with and listening to God.
I savor what seems to be what God is inviting me to savor.
I speak to God heart to heart, as one friend speaks to another friend.
I ask God for the gift of discerning what this experience means and how to live from it.
I conclude this examen by expressing my gratitude and by making a petition that I carry forward in my being what God has invited me to notice and savor and any discernment that has arisen from this. Amen.