I had a different post planned for today, but then I read this during my morning 30 minutes:
“Thus says the Lord, if you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech; If you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted; Then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday; Then the Lord will guide you always and give you plenty even on the parched land. He will renew your strength, and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring whose water never fails.” (Is 58:9b-11)
I need a giving plan. My $1 Sunday gifts are really not enough. I don’t currently have a giving plan, but I’m going to make one right here.
Side note 1: God is really bribing us here with the image of the watered garden. I’d do anything to feel like a watered garden. Which makes me realize how right was Columba Stewart, who realized the importance of natural metaphors: “…field, vineyard and garden metaphors in biblical and post-biblical texts…describe the process of human cultivation.”* Which makes me so grateful to my mom for giving me first hand experience of watered gardens.
Side note 2: I don’t think everyone needs a giving plan. In fact, spontaneous giving is probably what we should be aiming for. I am reminded of St. Therese, who gave up counting good deeds on her sacrifice beads and instead gave her whole life to God without counting her merits. If we give our whole life and everything we have to others, then we don’t need a giving plan. However, if you are like me and you are out of practice at giving in a material way, and, like me, you greedily hold on to your hard-earned dollars and even those free RX bars you scored, then maybe a giving plan is a good place to start.
Also, if I am serious about keeping my resolution to live “the Chesterton Option” then I need to start giving part of my money to the poor.
My Giving Plan
How Much to Give
This is the hardest part. I’m pausing here at the keyboard trying to decide how much I should give each month. I googled “tithing catholic catechism” and learned that “the word tithe comes from the Anglo-Saxon word teotha which meaning a ‘tenth.'” I also learned that, in Genesis 14, Abram gave Melchizedek “a tenth of everything” after winning a battle.
So a tenth is a pretty good amount to consider. Which is difficult, because my part-time job currently provides my family’s main source of income. So I kept reading the article, which suggests that we give at least as much as we spend on entertainment. Seems very reasonable. It also suggests we consider giving one hour’s worth of a 40 hour paycheck. Considering that one-fortieth is much less than one-tenth, this also seems very doable.
I want to commit to four hours worth per month, and pray to be open to spontaneity. These words are encouraging:
“In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability.” (2 Cor. 8:2-3)
To Whom to Give
My inbox pretty much takes care of this. I receive several emails each month from worthy organizations asking for donations. I went through and chose the organizations that are close to my heart:
Human Coalition: This group supports mothers and fathers facing unplanned pregnancies. They emphasize the value of every human life, and of unconditional love to both the babies and their parents. They understand the pain these parents are going through and compassionately show them options other than abortion. They continue to care for families no matter what they choose. (Unconditional love, right there.) I love this group because they understand that to change the culture, we need to “change one heart, one life at a time.”
Students for Life: This group supports young people specifically in choosing life, showing them that they have options other than abortion. They have a good track record of support for these young people, and once they even threw a graduation party for a high school senior whose school would not allow her to walk with her class because of her pregnancy. (Geeeeeez people.) They show the world that the rising generation supports life for all people.
Catholic Near East Welfare Association: This group “sends kindness to all who need it, regardless of their faith.” They help Syrian refugees, Eastern Europeans, the poor in India, and more. They give financial support to religious sisters who live with and serve these people.
Hillsdale College: I’m a huge believer in the importance of education, for many reasons, but especially for the formation of good citizens. Hillsdale College offers free email courses on subjects such as the Constitution of the United States, Western Heritage, the Supreme Court, and more. From what I’ve experienced, they present the material in a non-partisan way, and give their students the knowledge to make informed, thoughtful decisions. I want to help Hillsdale make this knowledge available to all Americans.
PragerU: This is an organization that makes free, 5 minute videos on relevant, often controversial topics. They host a wide range of knowledgeable guest speakers of different backgrounds, and give their viewers the facts needed to make decisions. They have a sources list below each video so you can check the facts for yourself. I find that they give a fresh perspective, and give you space to take the information and think about it. I want to help keep these videos free for all Americans.
Thomas Aquinas College: My alma mater 🙂 I am grateful to this institution for giving me access to great ideas and the space to think through them. Distinctions, baby.
My high school: I wish I realized at the time how lucky I was to receive an actually good education, but now I do, and I want to give back.
Classical KUSC: Yes, a classical radio station. Maybe this seems unimportant to you when compared with massive numbers of displaced people, but beauty (along with education and grace) will save the world, so…
My local parish: It gives me the sacraments, which are worth more than all the facts and ideas and music in the world.
How to Give:
The plan so far is to start at the top of this list and go down, giving to one organization per month. This seems doable, instead of trying to remember and make time each week. Of course, if opportunities arise for other ways to give, I hope I’ll be open to these.
For my parish, I’m going to make sure I always have cash in my wallet to contribute to the collection on Sundays.
I hope this post doesn’t come across as announcing my good deeds with trumpets like a hypocrite. I intend for this to be an accountability attempt for myself, a plug for organizations I love, and hopefully an inspiration for others who want to give. Let me know which you think it is. I rely on your feedback!
*As quoted by Kathleen Norris in Dakota, who noted that “our urban civilization surpasses such metaphors at its peril.” So much thanks to Y Is For Home! for this amazing recommendation.