It would have been acceptable for Katharine Drexel to adore the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament as a consecrated religious in her home Church of Philadelphia. It would have been even easier for her to keep living the high life of a socialite, albeit with the piety for which she had become known. She did neither while combining elements of both, as she founded a religious order dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament and used her personal wealth to serve the needy black and Indian missions in the United States. For all this and more, we now call her St. Katharine Drexel, whose feast day the Church celebrated March 3.

Katharine met the needs of her time with prayer and generosity. That unbeatable combination works for our time, too. And are the needs many.

If the conditions in Haiti weren’t bad enough, the rainy season is expected to begin later this month and last through its peak in May. Plastic tarps will help keep torrents off the heads of hundreds of thousands of people, even if the mud in which they’ll live brings a new kind of misery to those suffering souls.

Last weekend brought the news of a new earthquake-caused disaster in Chile. Early reports place the toll of dead and displaced at a level mercifully not that of Haiti, but it is a catastrophe nonetheless.

These needs and countless others must be met by people of good will through a response modeled on that of St. Katharine. When we face needs greater than our ability to meet them on our own, we first offer them up to God and humbly ask for His help and strength. Then we mobilize our gifts of monetary resources, organizational expertise and a sense of solidarity – unity – with our suffering brothers and sisters wherever they may live.

The present circumstance of need begs us to respond, and no doubt many will continue to pour out the generosity that is needed. Contact Catholic Relief Services today at 888-277-7575 or to learn how to contribute.

We may also find that whether it is a need overseas or very close to our home and family, the disciplined habit of fervent prayer and generous giving of one’s gifts presents a true plan for Christian discipleship. It’s a way of life that St. Katharine lived well enough to be ranked among God’s holy ones, and that we can live, too.