Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Septembger 21, 2009
To give as Jesus gave
Even in hard times, the virtue of generosity reveals that people want more than material things
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With last year's worldwide economic downturn, he was concerned about the possibility of CSS losing its largest contributors. In fact, generosity prevailed and donations increased.
"The theory that I heard from a few of them were that if it doesn't hurt, I'm not really paying the price for the blessings I have in my life. Times are tough, but it's a lot tougher for others out there than me, and I just got to dig a little deeper in order to help out."
Likewise, for those people who cannot afford to donate money. Barylo told the WCR that many people find creative ways to be generous, such as visiting clients or volunteering.
"During times of excess and abundance, getting people to volunteer and getting people generous with their money, is more difficult. Tough times economically is sometimes a good thing in bringing out the best in human nature," he said.
In agreement is Margot Bilodeau, a member of the Oblate Missionaries of Mary Immaculate.
"We should look at our pioneers who built our churches that we have today. They were in very difficult economic times like we are in today, and they did that (built parishes) at the cost of great sacrifice, and we still benefit now from their generosity.
"In the same way, we ought to be generous and provide our parishes with the means to fulfill their missions today and for the coming generation," said Bilodeau.
Her view is that Christians are obliged to give generously just as Jesus gave his life for us, just as St. Paul gave to communities in need. Christians should be willing to give freely and "more than necessary."
"We should give more of our kindness, more of our time, more of our talent, energy and money," she said. "Even if we don't have money, we still have our kindness. If we don't have money, it's no reason for not being generous."
Some people want credit for their generosity, be it a tax deduction or their names engraved on a plaque. This donor finds joy both in giving and in the recognition it brings.
"This is not really generosity. It is the appearance of generosity, but with a certain gain afterwards. It is not given out of the generosity of one's heart, but is calculated giving," said Bilodeau.
Back at St. Matthew's in Rocky Mountain House, staff and students see generosity as a way of life. The school's theme is paraphrased from Matthew 5.16: "Let your light so shine before all that they may see your good works."
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"We really try to teach the kids that true love is carried out in service, and that they can easily see Jesus himself in the eyes of suffering people," said Libby.
The staff and students are also active in a Thanksgiving food drive for the food bank, Operation Christmas Child, Lenten projects, and monthly hotdog sales that fundraise for worthy causes.
"I started Hotdogs for Humanity at Belmont School in Edmonton when the tsunami hit. There were a string of disasters that hit - first the tsunami, then a little while later Hurricane Katrina, and then an earthquake in Pakistan.
"When I came to St. Matthew's, I wanted to keep it going because it's such an easy thing to do, having a hotdog day once a month," said Libby.
The first hotdog sale in Rocky Mountain House raised money for Colton Hope, a Grade 1 student who had been diagnosed with a brain stem tumour. Collectively, the school raised $4,600 for his family through Halloween Hotdogs for Hope.
The money helped offset expenses for the family's fuel, accommodations, and meals while they were at the Stollery Children's Hospital in Edmonton.
Aside from the occasional grip-and-grin in the community newspaper, Libby said that a lot of the school's charity work goes unnoticed.
Reaching out to struggling families is commonplace in Rocky Mountain House. When a family is down, the school rises to the occasion. When a fire destroyed three brand new homes in town, the school jumped at the chance to help the families through their Hotdogs for Humanity monies.
"Why is it that this community lives like that? They live in a constant state of generosity, and I really think it's because of the Gospel values that are so ingrained in the Catholic community out here.
"We are the hands of Christ, and we show it in the community. We reach out to Christ when we reach out to those who are less fortunate," said Libby.
In some places, there is reluctance to give money for Third World countries when money is required to meet local needs.
However, that point of view is unheard of in Rocky Mountain House, said Libby. "It doesn't matter if it's an international need or a national need or a community need, the generosity is always there."
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