Faith Focused Dating. Create your Free Profile and meet your Match!

A place to learn, mingle, and share

This room is for discussion related to learning about the faith (Catechetics), defense of the Faith (Apologetics), the Liturgy and canon law, motivated by a desire to grow closer to Christ or to bring someone else closer.

Saint Augustine of Hippo is considered on of the greatest Christian thinkers of all time and the Doctor of the Church.
Learn More: Saint Augustine

This past Friday I helped out with Feed My Starving Children out in Chanhassen Minnesota. It was a very moving and inspiring experience to see how much of a change 30 volunteers could make in an hours time. However, I now feel a insurmountable level of guilt. While I enjoy helping provide meals around the world, a jaded part of me was playing devil's advocate the entire time. Please hear me out. This is a dilemma I have had for a long long time.

Growing up, I volunteered a lot often helping out those in poverty stricken areas. Some of these areas have included the stripped coal mines of the Appalachian Mountains in Kentucky, the South Side of Chicago, and Eagle Pass Texas. I worked within programs that had partnered with my church to help those less fortunate. However, I found myself becoming frustrated and judgmental after working in those areas.One example included some volunteer work getting a trailor home up to building code in Kentucky. All the while we were working on the home, the owner of the home sat inside watching cable TV with his nice Camaro sitting in his driveway. It seemed as if this person wasn't suffering a hardship, they simply mismanaged how they allocated their resources. I mean, I don't even have cable TV! Again, hear me out, I swear I don't have ice water in my veins, I just sometimes struggle offering help given a scenario such as that.

To make a long story short, my business background has taught me something to the effect of, "Give a man a fish, and he'll be hungry in a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll never go hungry." Therefore rather than issue the 'handout', I'm enticed to think many in unfortunate situations could greatly benefit from skills, education, training, and so forth to help them help themselves. By simply giving them food/money/assistance, we are essentially offering a positive reinforcement for them to stay in the same situation they are in (the same could be said for social programs offered by State/Federal government). Again, this is the economist in me coming alive. People will act in their own self interests and incentives.

However, I know this is NOT what the Bible teaches. There are plenty of passages regarding God's intention for us to take care of the poor, love thy neighbor, give away all of our possessions and follow him, to whom much is given much is expected, and so forth. Again, not that I'm abandoning the poor, I just have a hard time given my educational mission based on Adam Smith and Milton Friedman (Everyone acting in their own self interests is the best way for society to operate). I guess in the textbook, this holds true. But, I know that this is far from God's intention of the way we should live our lives.

Pardon all of my rambling. I was just having a conflict of conscious during my volunteering. This is something I'm certainly going to pray about for answers. Do any of you have any insight?

Blessings,

Kevin
Jul 22nd 2013 new
It sounds like you are a great,active Catholic and want to help unfortunate people .
When I worked at the Missionaries of Charity in Africa for some months,I felt it was a great privilege to help
the poorest of the poor and had great empathy.Fast forward a few years while visiting my sister at the MCs here,I felt somewhat indignant seeing the poor that they helped here.With all the Government help and chances to better themselves,yet they didn't progress themselves.At that time I didn't have a lot of understanding of the personal trials,weaknesses,circumstances and vulnerabilities many people are debilitated by.
One of the best things that could have happened to me, was going through a very tough year financially
myself and going to a charity for a Christmas hamper for the children and I.As I sat waiting I observed the people around me ,hearing a little of their talk of their lives and trials.I thank God for that little experience that cured me of feeling superior ever.
The Nuns continue to provide without questioning I'm sure.

Jul 22nd 2013 new
Kevin - you're not a bad Catholic for wondering about, and trying to process, the things you see. Discouragement is one of the enemy's most potent weapons. Don't give in to it. Keep giving of yourself every day. God gives us countless invitations to love him by loving others. It doesn't take a mission trip (although that is a very good thing to do), offer comforting words to someone who's depressed, upset, or lonely, bear wrongs patiently and with joy even, smile, hold a door open. So many ways to turn such things into opportunities to love God. Also remember that we can't always expect gratitude from the people we help. God sees and is thankful.

Above all, pray. Ask God to increase your love for him and to give you the willingness to do his will in all things.

Jul 22nd 2013 new

I suspect the problem is spread without depth. Spread is when the workers on some specific charitable program descend like locusts on some recipient or bunch of recipients and munch up some specific technical problem, such as getting their trailer home up to code standard, and disappear to another project location when the technical job is done, without ever getting to know the recipients in a personal way. Because of their work with the charitable program, they know a lot of recipients and they know none of them. Plenty of spread but no depth.



Jesus, who is God, is the union of the empirical and the normative. Empirical is what is, normative is what ought to be. Jesus is as he ought to be. And what does he want from you? A personal relationship. He wants a personal relationship from you because that is what he ought to want. Insofar as one is allowed to say that God is designed for something, God is designed for love. The personal relationship. And what of the human being who has Christ in him? What ought that human being to want? A personal relationship also. From you or from somebody else

..

It may be a coincidence but there's a thread in this Forum Room just below yours asking what if youre alone in this world and nobody cares about you, when you have nobody to talk to when youre feeling low at 10 pm on a Tuesday or to do something with you when youre at loose ends at 3 pm on a Sunday. When the technicians have brought the trailer home up to scratch and left, who is there to pick-me-up Mr Trailer Home Owner when he is feeling low or at loose ends? That is when the personal relationship and the beginnings of a process of hand-up can occur.

There are many labourers in the vineyard. Some of them are gifted by God with the opportunity to see the recipient of charity come good. Others have to content themselves with knowing that they have tilled and planted a field from which another charity labourer will reap the harvest of seeing a recipient of charity come good. They themselves may not ever have the satisfaction of reaping a harvest. Some of them may wonder why Mr Trailer Home Owner is apparently indifferent to their charitable ministrations of a home engineering nature. They may not realise that Mr Trailer Home Owner is going to come good, but in the company of another charity labourer whose job was made easier because Mr Trailer Home Owners home was fixed and he now has one less thing in life to be grumpy about.

Burn out is a risk for charity labourers who become dispirited. Perhaps the solution is sometimes to do charity work of a spread nature, and sometimes to do charity work of a depth nature. Sometimes you till and plant a field for someone else, sometimes you reap from a field that someone has tilled and planted for you. Sometimes, you fix trailer homes, sometimes you sit and talk with Charity Recipient Joe Smith and do nothing other than sit and talk with Joe Smith and re-visit and re-visit Joe Smith until you sort of become like a friend, because a pit stop sit and talk with no further contact ever with that person is pretty useless useless for you, because youll never know if you could have made a difference to Joe Smith.

You need to know if you could have made a difference. To work at something without ever knowing whether it was worth it or not is simply to hand the burning candle of dispiritedness to Satan to look after for you. Being a proactive kind of guy, hell probably tend lovingly to it until the candle becomes a conflagration.

In case you thought my description of trailer home fixers as locusts who descend on one site of good deeds, eat away all the technical problems and take off for another site as a bit brusque, it is. Thats because I personally am a locust. After having reflected on this matter, Im come to the conclusion that Im just not patient and touchy-feely enough to pick-me-up Mr Trailer Home Owner at 10 pm and 3pm. I used to think I was but not any more. That requires emotional investment that I think other people are better suited to giving. I have other things Id rather be doing. Im happy to till and plant and let someone else see the harvest of a specific charity recipient come good. And if anybody complains, Ill say, Hey, is it better for Ben Bernanke to spend his precious working hours picking-me-up Mr Trailer Home Owner or should he be tilling and planting his patch of the economy so Mr Trailer Home Owner can continue to get his Social Security? Different strokes for different folks.

What are you, a spreader or a depther? You can be both. Spread is fun; you can do lots of different charity things. Variety is the spice of life. A change is as good as a holiday. Depth can also be fun (if you have the requisite personality), getting to know one person really well. Pick someone who seems obdurate to being helped, someone who seems to be a hand-out basketcase instead of a hand up role model and

And .

Storm his gates. Isnt that what you have to do if you really, really want something from God? Storm heaven? So, quietly, persistently and with the subjects passive acquiescence probably (at least in the beginning) be a friend whos there, storm his gates, again and again. Like parents persisting in upholding a relationship with their feckless drug addict child. Spread yourself as thinly as your interests desire when youre doing the locust stuff because you wont be getting to know too many people in depth, but in your depther role, pick one person or family and stay put for a good period of time. For years, perhaps. Just one person or family.

Is evangelisation a mass or an individual phenomenon? Both. Billy Graham handles the mass phenomenon side of the phenomenon (Im only mentioning his name because I cant think of any Catholic of his functional stature) but it takes thousands of individual pastors to keep each believers seed in good ground. Spread is mass and depth is individual. But both are necessary for the evangelistic purpose of helping a recipient of charity to become independent.
Aug 11th 2013 new
(quote) Kevin-782868 said: One example included some volunteer work getting a trailor home up to building code in Kentucky. All the while we were working on the home, the owner of the home sat inside watching cable TV with his nice Camaro sitting in his driveway. It seemed as if this person wasn't suffering a hardship, they simply mismanaged how they allocated their resources. I mean, I don't even have cable TV! Again, hear me out, I swear I don't have ice water in my veins, I just sometimes struggle offering help given a scenario such as that.

To make a long story short, my business background has taught me something to the effect of, "Give a man a fish, and he'll be hungry in a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll never go hungry." Therefore rather than issue the 'handout', I'm enticed to think many in unfortunate situations could greatly benefit from skills, education, training, and so forth to help them help themselves. By simply giving them food/money/assistance, we are essentially offering a positive reinforcement for them to stay in the same situation they are in (the same could be said for social programs offered by State/Federal government). Again, this is the economist in me coming alive. People will act in their own self interests and incentives.

Kevin,, i just happened to catch this Post.. and like yourself my thinking has also been "give a man a fish.. ". I think in the big picture that saying would be the ideal situation, but my opinion also is that while some people may be physically able to take care of themselves they may have mental health issues which prevent them from being completely self sustaining. I think if we have the ability we owe it to those less fortunate to help whenever we can. smile Praying

Aug 11th 2013 new
(quote) Dave-146273 said: Kevin,, i just happened to catch this Post.. and like yourself my thinking has also been "give a man a fish.. ". I think in the big picture that saying would be the ideal situation, but my opinion also is that while some people may be physically able to take care of themselves they may have mental health issues which prevent them from being completely self sustaining. I think if we have the ability we owe it to those less fortunate to help whenever we can.

is The problem with the saying, "Give a man a fish and... ." etc., is that it is an incomplete picture. Although it contains a lot of truth the situation could be that the man is starving. In that case you feed him first then teach him how to fish.
Aug 11th 2013 new
(quote) Kevin-782868 said: However, I found myself becoming frustrated and judgmental after working in those areas.One example included some volunteer work getting a trailor home up to building code in Kentucky. All the while we were working on the home, the owner of the home sat inside watching cable TV with his nice Camaro sitting in his driveway. It seemed as if this person wasn't suffering a hardship, they simply mismanaged how they allocated their resources. I mean, I don't even have cable TV!
Ah....I encountered a similar situation and questioning of "the message" back in the spring. My parish is a relatively small parish and the poorest in our county. We have a relatively rich county but there are parts that are poorer. Our church is smack in the middle of the less-than-well-off part and has mostly blue-collar residents. Even with our limited resources we are a very generous parish. We run a food pantry and provide monetary assistance as needed for those that need help making ends meet. Most of our pantry clients are not Catholic but know that we help. Every Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas we provide food baskets for our pantry clientele (around 110 families). These "baskets" provide everything needed for a full holiday meal. For Easter, I'm talking a ham, dozen eggs, half gallon of milk, package of butter, 5 lb bag of potatoes, rolls, green beans, corn, gravy, and Easter candy. I mean I didn't even get Peeps for myself at Easter time! wink

Anyways, the clients do have to be registered with our pantry as abuse has been found in the past with people jumping from church to church getting the same "help" from each one. The process is respectful of those asking for the help. While they are waiting in our parish hall and enjoy pastries and coffee, our volunteer groups make the circuit getting everything on the list. Once gathered the volunteer group walks the client to their transportation with small chit-chat and puts everything into their vehicle for them. A small way of serving and treating them somewhat special.

I found myself in the same boat as you when we were walking to some folk's vehicles that were waayyyy nicer than my 1998 Isuzu Rodeo. I struggled with the same questions you had when I'm putting "free food" in a brand new Chevy Tahoe. I struggled when I watched the head of the food pantry making phone calls to people to remind them that the needed to pick up their baskets when it was close to closing time and they were still a no-show. I struggled listening to her explain that "no we can't deliver the food to you with our limited resources because you overslept". I guess my thought was that if I was receiving much needed food, I'd be there on-time.

In our de-brief, a brave soul actually brought up the same thoughts with our pastor. His responses stuck with me and helped me to see things differently.

1) We don't know the extent of everyone's story. Those could have been vehicles borrowed from a friend because theirs might not be working. Maybe the girl that overslept might have worked an overnight shift at a local convenience store and just couldn't make it. For as many people that might be taking advantage of the system, there are as many people that are truly being helped by what we do to make their burdens a little lighter. The appreciation given by those who truly know the cost of what we are giving them far outweighs those who don't seem to get it.

2) The whole "I'd be more grateful if I were them" sounds like something the Pharisees would say. We all know how Jesus felt about the Pharisees.

3) Our job is to answer the call not to worry about where the gifts go. When we come to our Judgment Day we can honestly say that we answered His call and provided to those in need. It's going to be on their judgment Day that they will have to answer whether they used those gifts appropriately or knowingly took away from someone else that could have used it more.

Hope that helps in some small way.
Aug 12th 2013 new
Hi Kevin,

I hear what you are saying. I have volunteered at a few places where it sure seemed the persons were not particularly needy. IN Appalachia I helped on a house- the mom wanted a new room because her kid had too many toys. Meanwhile the main floor was sagging and needed fixing and there was plenty of other work that needed to be done. In 2007 I went to Bolivia to do a mission trip, and since I was an engineer I helped check out places for work. You should have seen some of the places we turned down. Compared to an Appalachian place they where really bad and in need. But in Bolivia they were not bad enough for help. We found several places that were a lot worse.


Aug 12th 2013 new
you know that saying about ''walking miles
in someones shoes to know their needs''

........well that seem to fit here.........the emotional
..or spiritual need..............or other.......
needs satisfying also............

I agree to teach folks to fish or grow food is better
and don't have the whole picture here. In our very
not perfect world, hopefully these charities made
God's face shine on the recipients.
Aug 14th 2013 new
Kevin, I have been on many a mission trip and have thought often about the topics that you discuss so you are not alone in this matter. I think the answer is to consider what it really means to "love your neighbor". Loving your neighbor is about much more than providing material possessions such as food and housing. It also has much to do with the spiritual well being of those we help...if we truly love them, than our real goal is to help them to get closer to Christ. The sacrificial giving of material goods on a mission trip should only be a lead in to a much deeper spiritual aid that we should be attempting to offer.

As Benedict XVI said in his encyclical, God is Love...

"Lovecaritaswill always prove necessary... Whoever wants to eliminate love is preparing to eliminate man as such. There will always be suffering which cries out for consolation and help. There will always be loneliness. There will always be situations of material need where help in the form of concrete love of neighbour is indispensable. The State which would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself, would ultimately become a mere bureaucracy incapable of guaranteeing the very thing which the suffering personevery personneeds: namely, loving personal concern. ...

The Church is one of those living forces: she is alive with the love enkindled by the Spirit of Christ. This love does not simply offer people material help, but refreshment and care for their souls, something which often is even more necessary than material support. In the end, the claim that just social structures would make works of charity superfluous masks a materialist conception of man: the mistaken notion that man can live by bread alone (Mt 4:4; cf. Dt 8:3)a conviction that demeans man and ultimately disregards all that is specifically human. "
Posts 1 - 10 of 13