18 July 2012

Homeless persons in 21st century Australia and 4th century Turkey

Perry Keyes is a singer-songwriter from Sydney, Australia. St Gregory of Nyssa lived in the fourth century AD in Cappadocia, Turkey. Tradition Day By Day is a compilation of short daily readings from the Church Fathers by the late Fr John E. Rotelle OSA and published by Augustinian Press in 1994. It used to be online.

I had never heard of Perry Keyes until today and went looking for a video to go with the reading below, that of today in Tradition Day By Day. I remembered a video about a shelter for homeless people named after the Venerable Matt Talbot. I came across the video above. Here are Perry Keyes's own notes on it. 

Since just before the last world war this [Matthew Talbot Hostel] has been a shelter for homeless men in Sydney. It provides over a quarter of a million meals a year and it's beds are used almost 37,000 times a year. One night, after finishing a taxi shift - I sometimes drive a cab -, a couple of drivers were talking about a homeless man that was found outside the major cinema complex on Sydney's main street. He'd lain there, dead, for almost 12 hours before anyone noticed.

The hostel is named after the Venerable Matt Talbot. In his native Ireland he is never referred to as 'Matthew', his baptismal name, but as 'Matt', just as his younger Dublin contemporary Francis Michael Duff, founder of the Legion of Mary, and a Servant of God, is universally known as 'Frank'.

St Gregory of Nyssa could be writing about Sydney, Manila, Dublin, New York City today, the world that Perry Keyes knows and sings about.

Plenty of strangers wander the roads, and everywhere we see their outstretched hands begging for help. Their home is the open air; they shelter in porticos, streets, and deserted corners of the marketplace, lurking in nooks and crannies like owls, and clothed in tattered rags. Their food is whatever they may get from a passerby, and they drink from the fountains with animals, using the hollow of their hands as a cup. Their storeroom is their pockets if these are not too torn to hold anything. For a table they use their knees pressed together; their bed is the pavement, and to bathe they have simply a river or pool which God gives for the use of everyone. Such is the rough, wandering path they follow, not because their life was like that from the start, but because misfortune has driven them to it.

You can help them through your fasting. Be generous to your brothers and sisters who are in trouble, giving to the hungry what you deny yourself, and making a fair distribution in the fear of God.

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