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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.
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Aug 14th 2013 new

There are reasons why charities like Habitat for Humanity have rules about who is eligible for assistance, applying the concept of "sweat equity" and so on. There are a myriad of reasons why someone may be poor, and just because someone is poor does not mean that they are a saint.

Personally, I struggle with how to deal with modern-day urban beggars. More often than not, they are in that situation because of addictions. I do not wish to facilitate their addictions, so I am not comfortable giving them money. It can be painful to me ignore the person directly when I see someone like that, because I know I am to help the poor, but I am not the cause of the dysfunction in their lives, and if they have financial hardship, I support those community programs and activities that address those. So, I don't wash my hands of the situation, but I am not comfortable handing over money to them either.

I heard of one person on a bus who offered an apple from their lunch bag to a beggar who was asking passengers for a dollar, and the person took the apple and threw it across the bus, screaming "do you think I want this (expletive deleted) ???" The beggar was looking for money to buy drugs because they were a serious addict. Their behavior was determined by their addiction, and not by hunger for food.

The beggars in the Bible were often lepers, or had disabilities like blindness, people who were marginalized because of illness and disability. I am not sure that any Biblical writings deal with people who ended up in abject poverty because of a heroin, crack or meth addiction. Applying the Christian concepts of charity and compassion in our modern world is a complex challenge.

Aug 14th 2013 new
Angela, one thing that you can try is to find a Catholic Charities or St. Vincent DePaul Society or some other charitable organization in your area that has the capability to handle cases of individual poverty. When the urban beggars approach you, offer to give them contact information for one of these organizations, or if you are more motivated ask the beggar for his/her contact information and tell him/her that you will pass it on to on to one of these organizations. I know the St. Vincent DePaul society in our area has people who will attempt to contact people in these situations and see what they can do to help them with food, rent, etc. Consider the can give them a couple of dollars and probably never see them again versus putting them in touch with a charitable organization that will follow up and help them in a much more permanent way. If they are truly in need, the second option will be much better for them. If they refuse, then so be have made an honest effort to help and they have turned you down. They really must be willing to help themselves...
Aug 26th 2013 new
Stephanie, we have struggled with the same question ourselves. Two days a week I help pickup, sort & deliver food to local families for the Knights of Columbus & St. Vincent de Paul at our Parish pantry. Some may very well be taking advantage of us, but like a former Pastor told us, "it's between them and God." One large family is getting ready to move for the fourth time, possibly not paying their rent. We remind ourselves of Father's words, and that we aren't walking in their shoes. There are small children involved and they are innocent. Our Knights of Columbus council participates every year in the Christmas in April project where we descend on a house and do sometimes major repairs. One year we worked on the old home of an elderly couple, and a neighbor told us their son was a well to do practicing attorney. It can be disheartening for sure, but I don't think God is deducting points from us!
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