The following is adapted from American Catholic.org. See the whole article here.
Too often, people in poverty are invisible to us. We may live in the same neighborhoods, attend the same schools and parishes, but be unaware of each other’s struggles.
Poverty is a state of life in which no one should live. A life in poverty is not the life that God intended for people.
What do people need to have a secure life? Food, shelter, a good education and a steady income are necessary. When people lack one or more of these essentials, Catholics often respond with an act of charity. These acts of charity—donations to food banks, working at homeless shelters, giving Christmas presents to poor children—help fill an immediate need. They help people get through one day at a time.
When those tough days turn into weeks and months, it’s a problem that needs a different kind of solution. If someone poor is so weighed down, tired and hungry that he or she can’t see any escape, a temporary drop into poverty can become a long-term situation. People get trapped in a cycle of poverty.
Good-paying jobs, affordable housing, safe streets, good public schools: All these structures are needed for a strong community. When they don’t exist, the entire community can get trapped in a cycle of poverty.When systems and structures fail people and communities, that is unjust. Injustices call for solutions larger than simple kindness. A one-person, one-day approach will not work.
It is difficult to break the cycle of poverty, but it is possible. The Church looks to justice-based solutions to end poverty and build stronger families and communities.Gospel living includes special concern for people living in poverty—to put them first in community decision-making, because they have the greatest need.When anyone is suffering, we as Christians are moved to act on their behalf—to do all we can to alleviate that suffering.
Our Church gives preferential attention to the poor, seeking to share time and resources in order to alleviate suffering. It is a Church that works with all sectors of society, including the poor themselves, in search of solutions to the problems of poverty, in order to free people from lives of misery and want....The Church of the poor is a Church in which the poor are welcomed, listened to and actively involved.
Examples and teaching about concern for the poor are found in every book of the Bible. The Church not only speaks on behalf of those in poverty but also stands beside the poor to support them in fighting for their own needs and rights.
The poor need not remain invisible. We are called to open our eyes to see those who are poor. With new eyes, we can shape a more just and peaceful nation, a community of Christ’s love.
Here's a place to start. Click on "Justice Matters."