December 20, 2009

Needy Among Us

Terry has an excellent post up about Charity.

I'm not sure all of us, Christians, lack charity entirely but we all treat it as a judgement call don't we? I know I do.

I commented on Terry's post that I use my heart and the Holy Spirit to guide me on whether or not to give money to the homeless begging on the street.

Do I?

Now, I wonder if that was accurate comment.

Is it really the Holy Spirit or is it me judging people? Am I always generous and accurate in my judgement?

I don't know

I know there have been times I ignored someone's request for help and then I was ashamed. There've been other times, I ignored someone's request for help and was not ashamed.

A couple of times I ignored someone's request for help, I believed they were Angels in disguise. They vanished after I rejected them. Seriously, one minute they were there and I turned around and they were gone. I believed I was being tested, even as it was happening, and I still said: 'no'.

This past year has been tough on me. Thank God no one said "no" to me when I was in need.

Can you imagine asking someone to pray for you and they said "no"? The gift of prayer is the best gift I've received all year. What if everyone said "No way, I'm not praying for you again or ever! It's too much to ask, too much of a bother"

Yes, there are thiefs among us. We all know the stories of people who've taken the red kettle money when they were supposed to be ringing for others. Does that mean: don't trust anyone? Don't trust? Don't give? I look at that situation this way: Somebody who is struggling and found an opportunity to earn a few bucks continuously ringing a bell until their arms falls off as people pass by indifferently during the coldest season in Minnesota can have as much as they want. Take the kettle and go with God. I was desperate enough this year to consider taking a gig as a bell ringer for a few extra bucks. It never came to that-thanks be to God-but I understand why it could. Is the thief right? No, but sometimes I think some of us don't understand how circumstances can drive people to acts they may never otherwise consider.

It's terrible that the actions of one can influence us to think everyone is worthy of suspicion.

Occasionally, on Sundays we have collections for Archdiocesan intentions. Every time these come around the inevitable dramas occur: 'they' (Archdiocese) are using the money for a purpose not other wise stated (sex abuse scandal pay off, priestly posh retirement, whatever). So, this basically means don't trust your Shepherds. Don't give them anything. If you can't trust your God given Shepherds how can you even call yourself a Catholic? I'm guilty of this. I, recently, held back some money during a special collection. I'm ashamed now. Despite my Ordinary's assurances, I still held the money back. I claim to be grateful for a job, but, yeah, am I? I'm grateful for MY money, but not His, I guess.

There are some corrupt Shepherds among us. Does that mean ALL of them are? No. Just a few months ago, I sent my Archbishop a letter assuring him of my full support and prayers. Well, I see I already fell down on the full support promise of that letter. I'm sorry.

We are (I am), all of us, needy people. I need to remember that.


Blogger X said...

I have to be honest and say I'd rather give someone who is begging something to eat or my scarf (if they're cold and need it) than money.

December 20, 2009 11:45 AM  
Blogger Nan said...

I give primarily to the Church and support some second collections; I can't support everything and right now am discerning whether or not to support the restoration of pipe organs and if so, at what level. If I do, it would mean less support for second collections and reduction in discretionary spending.

I don't need much in the way of material goods but sometimes I want.

December 20, 2009 1:27 PM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

I only give to the good looking ones.

December 20, 2009 4:16 PM  
Blogger Fr. John Mary, ISJ said...

This is a tough call; discernment without any boundaries.
I've had some experience with those in need. It's hard not to be judgmental, at times.
What our community does, at this point because our means are strapped right now, is to offer the help we can to our lay members who are struggling financially or to those who are alone in this world and need some help from time to time. Not too grand, but I pray this is God's will for us.
We try to send money, from time to time, to groups that work directly with those in need. Our monastic rule requires us to share our "largesse"(not much, really) with those who have nothing.
And sometimes we have little; but what little we have we try to be generous and trust in the Lord.
Thanks for the thought provoking post!

December 20, 2009 9:34 PM  
Blogger belinda said...

Dear Fr.,
I see affluencza as being as serious of a problem as poverty.
I live in one of the richest counties in the nation and our county has always had "new" growing up. New schools , libraries , homes , cars....everything, and a child that grows up with those things takes them for granted and has entitlement issues. We were one of the fastest growing cities in the nation at one time and for decades and there was an illusion that the good times would go on forever. That makes for some sinful kind of thoughts and behaviors. The people with money would go to our neighboring counties to buy their drugs and sex thereby further debilitating our county neighbors.
The children of our county don't do manual labor because the Mexicans do all of our lawn care, house cleaning and food preparation (which doesn't teach our young a very good work ethic) and there have been times when I had gone to subdivisions on a Saturday and seen NO children playing outside. First off most people don't have but one or two and when they do have children they are entertained with high tech activities inside. When push comes to shove many of these children will be in trouble because they were never taught how to do anything and they have few skills if any . Perhaps they will be our new poor, particularly if the electricity ever goes out.

Frugality is a gift from God and many people just don't have it, and there are few greater joys than needing something and watching the providence of God work in your life. The rich are not able to give this to their children.

*This comment wasn't written as a lecture to anyone , I'm in no position to do that.

December 23, 2009 1:04 PM  
Blogger Fr. John Mary, ISJ said...

belinda: beautiful. God bless you. How much those who can have everything at their disposal miss the true joy of receiving from the Lord. Thank you for this blessed reminder!

December 23, 2009 10:28 PM  

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