Saturday, December 19, 2009

Charity


Has no strings.
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I get a lot of post ideas after reading other people's blogs.  Sometimes they say (write) things - undoubtedly with the best intentions - that they haven't a clue as to how contradictory their statements sometimes come off - especially in light of their previous postings.  For sure I know I do it!  I say something about being charitable on the Internet and then I post something snide about Sr. Joan or Sr. Carol.  I do many things wrong on this blog - but I have never pretended to be an authority or a model of virtue either. 
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Last evening I came across a blog post concerning a beggar girl, written by a young man studying abroad.  Although he became acquainted with the beggar over time, he mentioned he never ever gives her money.  He said that where he is, the poor have a place to go for help.  Strangely enough this fellow solicits donations on his blog to help defray grad-school expenses.
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In our country many good people do not give money to the homeless people they meet for similar reasons, although many will give to charitable organizations that serve the poor.  Therefore they are entitled to explain themselves something like this:  "The homeless can go to Catholic Charities if they need help, if we give them money they will most likely spend it on booze."  That may be true.
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I always wonder about that however - for myself, that is.  Should I attach conditions to caring for those I meet?  Should I only give to those I think are worthy and who are more likely to use the money for the right things?  What if a pint of whiskey is the only warmth and joy a poor man is able to experience that night?  He already knows where the Dorothy Day Center is, but he doesn't know anyone really cares about him in that moment - unless I trust him and share something with him.  I used to worry about that stuff when giving money to a street person - I try not to do that now.
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True charity has no strings.  But it is really difficult to remember that.

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17 comments:

  1. Maria3:17 AM

    Who is worthy? We are all mendicants. I learned this the hard way after a fire in the winter of 2003. I lost everything and became homeless. With a master's degree and an unbelieveably priveledged upbringing. When I was growing up my underwear was ironed by our live in maid, for heaven's sake. I lost everything and became wholly dependent upon the mercy of God. You are right. No strings. I give whenever the hand is extended, whatever I can.

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  2. To every one that asks of thee, give... ~Luke 6:30

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  3. Beautiful post.

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  4. Terry, I agree with your post. Withholding charity under the guise of preventing a beggar's drinking, for example, is not going to sober up that person. As a
    former beggar for booze, charity, spare change I know that the booze only helped me survive that day. God
    knows the individual. And, on the plus side, handing
    money to a beggar is a great opportunity to say the Lord told me to do this! Because He did! When in Rome, if the Lord told me to give to a "gypsy" I did, and tossed in a prayer for good measure. Thanks for Abbey Roads.

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  5. Maria8:09 AM

    A beggar for booze, charity and spare change. Yep. I love it. We are ALL beggars.

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  6. In matters such as this I follow my heart and let the Holy Spirit guide me. I have given food out of my hand, pop and $ to people living on the streets. There are other times, I don't feel comfortable doing so. I, also, give money to charities.

    There have been times that I've truly believed the mendicants were angels in disguise. Sometimes, I failed them.

    I've given money in municipalities where to give money to the homeless directly is forbidden by statute. Yes, that makes me a law breaker but as I said: use your heart and the Holy Spirit as your guide.

    Maria: Superb point. We should all remember.

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  7. Terry,

    AMEN. I get so sick of that argument. Charity has no strings. I don't give a couple of bucks with the stipulation that it must be spent on healthy, whole grain, non GMO, free range shade grown whatnot.
    I give a couple of bucks.

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  8. Excellent post, Terry.

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  9. Anonymous2:24 PM

    Now I am LMAO, Cathy!
    Maria

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  10. The trouble with giving to gypsy women and children is that their husband's and fathers take all the money. It's a business.

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  11. Terry, I agree and was about to cite the passage Georgette already did.

    Interestingly charity has to do with a great deal more than just money. It has also to do with the kind of things you mention in the opener of this post.

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  12. aceman1335:29 PM

    It's a sticky line, isn't it, what to do when encountering someone begging. Spare change or even a dollar won't get them booze, but it may get them something to eat. If I meet someone consistently begging, there may be other, perhaps more dubious issues, but giving when someone asks, is probably the easiest thing to do.

    As for said blogger, well, he's just so cute you can't help but give to him! ;-)

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  13. Austringer5:56 PM

    What I do is buy McDonald's gift cards and always have them on hand (in an envelope that also contains a prayer card and a rosary)in the glove box of my car. I buy them in $30 amounts -- that way, the person might have less anxiety about the next few meals to come. That does away with concerns about cash donations going to buy alcohol or other dubious substances.

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  14. $30? Cripe, I'm gonna follow Austringer around!

    I read of a priest who, when he encounters a beggar of a bit of money (probably every couple of days in a certain location), gives him a hot baked potato. I said if I were a beggar and he handed me a baked potato, I'd peg it right at the back of his knees as he walked away. One can only think he went to that "healthy, whole grain, non GMO, free range shade grown whatnot" school of charity. I think I spooked him, but beggars are still people, not stray beasts.

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  15. +JMJ+

    Just wondering: what's wrong with a hot baked potato?

    (Word Verification: Chilli!)

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  16. I like baked potatoes.

    My husband and I have had some interesting experiences. We were approached one night for "gas money" by a man. We offered to follow him across the street to the station and fill his tank. He swore at us and walked away. At the metro there was a man who regularly claimed to have lost his wallet and asked for money to get home. He approached my husband on two different days with the same story. (Must have lost a lot of wallets.)

    I sometimes give money, but I prefer to take someone to buy a meal.

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  17. +JMJ+

    I, too, prefer to give food.

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