Giving from the Heart

Fr. Hagan, Fr. Jaspers and myself were warmly welcomed this past week at the Bethany House for dinner with the six residents of the Holy Cross Convent. The warm hospitality was especially appreciated as it coincided with the first flurries of the year! Hardly anything in the world is better than coming in out of the cold, into a home to be welcomed to a table where warm food is being offered. The laughter, prayerfulness and united spirit of hospitality was a great consolation. It reminds me of how blessed we are to host the Archdiocesan Discernment House on the Holy Cross campus and how potent the witness of its residents can be for us as a parish. They are making a certain gift of themselves for this year of structured community life and prayer; it is a gift of availability to God’s will, a gift from the heart. The questions they are posing throughout their year of residency in the program are monumental: how can I serve the Lord and pursue His will? How can I give my heart to Him, even as I ask the question of whether He may be calling me to follow Him as a consecrated religious?

What weighty questions to ask. While you and I are not living in a Discernment House, I wonder if we might make their questions our own: how can we serve the Lord and pursue His will? How can we give our hearts to Him, wherever He may beckon us to follow? How can we have the generosity of our hearts stretched?

The hospitality I received was akin that which Elijah received from the widow of Zarephath in the first reading of today’s Mass. At a difficult moment in her own life she went out in faith to provide for someone in his need and she and her son were blessed abundantly through the ‘logic of the gift’ which opened them to a superabundance which God provides to those who give without setting limits or making excuses: “the jar of flour did not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry” (1 Kings 17:16). This is the way our God delights to work!

This weekend I write to express my deep gratitude for all that we are able to accomplish as a parish because of your commitment to ongoing giving. The backbone of our parish operations and ministry is your consistency and fidelity in offering presence and service (time and talent) and financial resources (treasure). Beyond the obvious ways this is necessary, it also provides a compelling witness of generosity and will allow our mission to our parishioners and our neighborhood to grow and be sustained for years to come. As a parish we remain committed to being prudent stewards of your generosity, especially in finding ways to focus our efforts and reduce inefficiency and waste.

One of the special appeals I want to renew this weekend is for you to consider utilizing our Simplified Giving opportunity through Vanco Payment Solutions. It is simple, versatile and secure and can even be accessed through the GivePlus App. I can attest to how encouraging it has been to watch participation in online giving grow. Our culture has heavily shifted from a cash and check-based economy to a digital one. Parish life has sometimes been slow to catch up. Also as some from among our parishioners prepare for their migration to warmer places for the winter, I would invite you to consider this option to help keep our contributions stable. This weekend we are beginning to make available laminated cards at each of our campuses for those who already give using Simplified Giving but who wish to participate at the moment of the offertory of the Mass. However you make your offerings, thank you!

Next weekend we celebrate the transferred Feast of Pope St. Clement of Rome, one of our parish patrons. He wrote from the heart about how he lived generosity in service of the Church: “nothing is more beautiful than charity; it was shown by Christ when He gave His Flesh for our flesh, His Soul for our souls” (St. Clement, Letter to the Corinthians). The common call of all the saints is to be generous in love just as we have been recipients of the lavish love of Christ.

Christ’s praise of the widow’s offering in the Gospel should deepen our motivation to give according to our means, to give cheerfully, to give from the heart!

 

Fr. Howe

 

P.S. Our special prayers of gratitude are with all those of Polish ancestry in our parish this weekend as they celebrate one-hundred years of the regaining of Polish Independence. Bogu niech będą dzięki; Thanks be to God!