What the poor need most

Brokenhearted and dead broke, we packed the car and moved again
From Dorothea Lange's Migrant Mother series

From Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother sequence

The following comes from an Oct. 28 posting by Joe Carter on the Acton Institute blog.

During the late 1970s and early 1980s I spent two extended periods living below the poverty line. The first experience came as I entered the first grade. My father was a chronically unhappy man who was skillful and ambitious, yet prone to wanderlust. Every few months we would move to a new city so that he could try his hand at a new occupation—a truck driver in Arkansas, a cop in West Texas, a bouncer at a honky-tonk near Louisiana. We were always on the move, always a few weeks away from the next paycheck. At the lowest point we had nothing to eat but a half-loaf of Wonder Bread, a five-gallon bucket of unshelled peanuts, and tap water. That lasted for a two-week period in August that stretched across my seventh birthday.

Eventually my father settled down, found steady work, and we inched our way slowly toward the lower rungs of the working class. This period of financial tranquility lasted until I was eleven, when my father walked out on my mother, my younger brother, and me. Brokenhearted and dead broke, we packed the car and moved again, my mother having acquired the nomadic tendency to run away from adversity. (By the time I graduated high school, I had changed schools thirteen times.) Single parenthood tipped the scales and we slipped, once again, beneath the poverty threshold. We survived with the aid of food stamps and government housing until my sophomore year, when my mother remarried and our lives returned to a level of economic normalcy.

I’m always hesitant to share this story because we in America tend to have a knee-jerk sympathy for the “down-and-out.” There are, however, many times, as in my family’s case, when pity is completely unwarranted. A lifetime of foolish decisions by my parents, rather than a dismal economy or lack of opportunity, led to our being poor. We reaped what they had sown.

Carter

Carter

But while being poor can be difficult, it isn’t the tragedy that many might be inclined to believe. From an early age I knew that while many people had more than I did, others had it much, much worse. That lesson was seared into my conscience while sitting in a pew watching Baptist missionaries present a slideshow detailing their latest mission trip. The images of true poverty gave our tiny congregation a glimpse into the everyday life in Ethiopia, a time of famine when a few slices of white bread and a bucket of unshelled peanuts would be considered a feast. I was struck by the realization that as little as we had, these people had less. I was Texas poor; these people were Africa poor.

Looking back, I realize that many would have looked on me as I looked on these African children—as objects of pity. Though they were much like me, I had put them in the category of the Other. It was almost as if these families, who didn’t even have a mobile home and a broken down Buick to call their own, were a different type of Christian. As the Dutch prime minister and theologian Abraham Kuyper wrote in The Problem of Poverty:

There cannot be two different faiths—one for you and one for the poor. The question on which the whole social problem really pivots is whether you recognize in the less fortunate, even in the poorest, not merely a creature, a person in wretched circumstances, but one of your own flesh and blood: for the sake of Christ, your brother. It is exactly this noble sentiment that, sad to say, has been weakened and dulled in such a provoking manner by the materialism of this century.

Kuyper wrote these words in 1891 for the material-obsessed middle-class of The Netherlands. Yet in our own country even the poor are dulled by materialism. Many of our poor have more possessions than the rich young ruler whom Jesus told to sell all he had in order to find salvation. How many of those in poverty in America would give up all they had? Even my family — Texas poor as we were — would have been hesitant to part with our bounty.

The problem of poverty, at least in America, is not just that it makes it difficult for people to fulfill their material needs, but rather that it blinds us all to what we really need. After all, what the truly destitute — those without food and shelter — need most isn’t a handout or a redistribution of wealth. What they need is for Christians to heed Jesus’ command. As Kuyper points out,

For deeds of love are indispensable. Obviously, the poor man cannot wait until the restoration of our social structure has been completed. Almost certainly he will not live long enough to see that happy day. Nevertheless, he still has to live, he must feed his hungry mouth, and the mouths of his hungry family. Therefore, vigorous help is necessary. However highly I am inclined to praise your willingness to make sacrifices—and this is possible through God’s grace to many of you—nevertheless, the holy art of “giving for Jesus’ sake” ought to be much more strongly developed among us Christians. Never forget that all state relief for the poor is a blot on the honor of your savior.

The fact that the government needs a safety net to catch those who would slip between the cracks of our economic system is evidence that I have failed to do God’s work. The government cannot take the place of Christian charity. A loving embrace isn’t given with food stamps. The care of a community isn’t provided with government housing. The face of our Creator can’t be seen on a welfare voucher. What the poor need is not another government program; what they need is for Christians like me to honor our savior.

I can attest to that truth from my own experience. What my family needed, what I needed, was not just a handout — either from the state or the church. We needed true, godly charity.

So why do I still find it so difficult to give of my money, of my time, of my self? Why are the “deeds of love” that Kuyper called indispensable so easy for me to withhold?

I can’t blame it on poverty. Today, I’m comfortably ensconced in the middle-class with free time and disposable income that I waste with embarrassing regularity. Yet even when I was poor I was wealthier than 95 percent of the rest of the planet. I still had a duty to provide aid to those who were even less fortunate; Jesus didn’t excuse me from my obligations because I seemed to lack wealth….

 

To read the original posting, click here.

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Comments

  1. In the USA, (in my lifetime) the poor have always been taken care of by our tax dollars, (and donations from other Americans).
    Subsidized housing, food stamps, Medicaid, aid to dependent children, and other programs insure against homelessness, starvation, and serious health issues.
    (These of course do not help the mentally unstable who prefer to be homeless.)

    Just like they did with cigarettes, the federal government needs to start a strong program for sexual abstinence for the unmarried, and strongly advocate marriage for families. Single parent families are the majority of the poor in the USA.

    Bishops need to get back to SAVING SOULS rather than being concerned about being involved in governmental social service programs.

  2. life lady says:

    We all know that we can’t give what we don’t have. And when we look at Jesus’ praise for the widow, we can actually see whar He meant. She had an abundance of love of God and her neighbor, a measure greater than those who have more possessions than she seemed to have. I cringe when I have to go to CostCo. My “abundance” in being able to walk around in than place embarasses me, but if I take the lesson of Jesus, it doesn’t matter that I CAN walk around in there, but that I can see my brothers and sisters in Africa walking around in there, and wanting that for them, for their own sakes. I want them to enjoy those luxuries as I do, and wish that they could join me choose which bag of grapefruit they and I prefer for ourselves. There is so much abundance here, our accounting before God is going to be difficult if we don’t even have a basic love of neighbor, let alone love of the poor.

  3. Elizabeth M. says:

    Yes we are obligated to take care of the poor. I know that when we compare the poor in the USA with the rest of the world they are quite wealthy materially. The USA is also the most generous country in the world. However when in the country comparisons were checked to see who were more generous in their giving it was the Conservatives who gave the most to charity. Liberals are under the impression that the government takes care of all this. But as the author says the government cannot do it with love.

  4. Abeca Christian says:

    I really enjoyed this article. It is true what it tried to convey. I understand very well what he said. The only difference is that I had a better childhood, we were poor but not poor in the faith, I had good parents, who did their best, and relatives that lived the faith and grandparents that honored God, that surely made me very wealthy and not ever noticing that we were poor. Even then, we may have been poor but we had our values too. I think that is something lacking in many people today, today they feel like they are entitled to what the government is to give them but the government can’t provide what really matters the most, and that is our faith and our morals, our fear of God and love of neighbor, it can’t provide that, it only has done the opposite. The responsibility lies solely on the individuals whom are responsible for their children, whom need to honor God and the responsibility lies from within our church leadership to show us Jesus ……

  5. Abeca Christian says:

    Even the rich can be poor, if they don’t have God in their hearts, then they are very poor in my eye’s. I like this quote from this article “There cannot be two different faiths—one for you and one for the poor. ” it makes sense. There can not be a faith either just for the rich. There is one God, He is for all, rich or poor or in the middle…the same Lord. Looking at the lives of the saints….some came from wealthy upbringings and some from very poor…..they were still lead to the same Lord.

    Our Alpha and Omega! Our Abba Lord! Praise God for His love….I can’t imagine life without the love of our Lord Jesus. All His gifts give us joy and I pray that as we wake up each day, that we reflect in our Lord and all His glory. Today and everyday for the rest of our lives!

    • BALTIMORE Two Catholic nonprofit groups urged Monday that the U.S bishops, meeting here for their annual assembly, follow the lead of Pope Francis in building a “church for the poor” in the United States.

      Specifically, the groups said, the American prelates could make their national office a “bishops’ conference for the poor” by drafting a new statement on the continuing economic crisis and by launching a nationwide poverty awareness campaign.

      That campaign, they said, could follow a similar game-plan as the bishops’ focus over the past two years on issues of religious liberty, which the bishops devoted significant time and energy to in 2012 and 2013, hosting twice a “Fortnight for Freedom” centered around the implementation of the health care law.

  6. Abeca Christian says:

    St. Basil the Great:
    “The bread which you do not use is the bread of the hungry; the garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of him who is naked; the shoes that you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot; the money that you keep locked away is the money of the poor; the acts of charity that you do not perform are so many injustices that you commit.”

    St. Cosmas of Aetolia:
    “All right, you cannot give away all your belongings. Then give half, or a third, or a fifth. Is even this too heavy? Then give one tenth. Can you do that? Is it still too heavy?
    “How about this. Don’t sell yourself as a slave. Don’t give a penny to the poor. Only do this. Don’t take your poor brother’s coat, don’t take his bread, don’t persecute him, don’t eat him alive. If you don’t want to do him any good, at least do him no harm. Just leave him alone. Is this also too heavy?”
    “You say you want to be saved. But how? How can we be saved if everything we are called to do is too heavy? We descend and descend until there is no place further down. God is merciful, yes, but he also has an iron rod.”

  7. Anton L Seidl says:

    The most powerful means of combatting poverty is to create a robust, thriving economy. The present administration has no interest in doing what needs to be done in terms of creating jobs; in fact they are doing the exact opposite. Why do people think we have uncounted millions dropping out f the labor force altogether? In many cases it is more advantageous to collect welfare, food stamps, housing subsidies and other hand-outs than it to go out and compete for a job in this lousiest of all job markets since the great depression. Obama is building an enormous constituency simply by opening the welfare spigot. To make up for his largess he has the Fed crank out cheaper dollars to create the illusion that everything is wonderful in the world of Oz. Why our church fathers continue to support this administration’s anti-poverty programs after six decades of utter failure testifies not to their compassion but to their complete ignorance of economic reality. The Acton Institute is to be commended for being candid and honest in their support of capitalism.

    • One of the major failings of poverty programs is that they have become de facto subsidies to the richest people and corporations. That’s not to say there aren’t some people who have dropped out of the work force, but there’s a major problem when the largest employer in the country (Wal-Mart) is offering the kind of employment where the federal govt is providing $4 billion a year to its employees in the form of aid programs (Medicaid, Section 8, food stamps), while the Walton family is now worth an estimated $150 billion.

      Compare that to 1955, where GM (the then largest employer) was able to to provide even least skilled employees a decent, middle class life.

      The US GDP has actually nearly doubled since 1990, but you’d never know it, because all of it has gone to the very top. There are a lot of factors there, but sloth is not a prominent one.

  8. In the U.S. and many other countries in America we treat the problem of poverty the same way we treat our medical practices. We treat the symptoms, not the causes. Our medical system is designed to take care of people that are sick, not to help prevent sickness. As a result, we pay a larger percent of GDP for health care that most industrialized nations and our outcomes, for the most part, are worse. In the U.S. there is all kinds of money in all kinds of programs to help people that are poor. Catholic agencies, and other denominations as well, feed the hungry, visit the prisons, provide shelter for families that have no home, etc. That is treating the symptoms, but it doesn’t prevent poverty. What we don’t do is advocate enough to find ways to end poverty. In the U.S., it was recently reported, nearly one in six people live below the poverty line. In my area, over 50% of children qualify for subsidized breakfast and lunch at their schools. When school closes for the summer the feeding agencies are overwhelmed with people who have no food. What are we doing to ensure that people can earn a livable wage, rather than the minimum wage? What are we doing to limit the governmental agencies from spending too much on salaries and not on poverty. Our government should not do everything for us, obviously, but it should ensure that there is a level playing field. What we are doing, in our country at least, is providing the fish. We are not teaching people how to fish.

    • Tom Byrne says:

      Bob One: As I teacher I must point out that I can’t teach people who are not prepared to cooperate. I can’t teach people who are too drunk, too toked or too violent, or who doesn’t want to come to class because they’re sleeping with their lover de jour or shooting up the neighborhood with their gang, or selling drugs or “protection”. No teacher can disregard the BEHAVIOR of the student, and this is the same problem with those caught in a culture of poverty. Yet our bishops and the liberal media don’t want us suggesting that the behavior of the poor is a major reason for the poverty of many.

      • I agree that you can’t teach drunks, violent people, etc. There will always be those who made bad decisions. But what about the majority who are the victims of other people’s bad decisions. The father or mother who lost their jobs so that the company could move it to China for a few dollars more in profit. What about the jobs that we can’t fill in this country because our schools don’t educate/train people to do the new jobs in the market place. We need to work on the cause of poverty, not the symptoms. The majority of people who live in poverty don’t do it because of bad decisions. When the father and mother both work and still only bring home $16 per hour, they can’t live without help. That is only $640 per week. That won’t pay the rent or the food for the kids, buy the gas to get to work or provide time to work with the kids on their education. How do we end poverty?

      • Tom Byrne, you are quite correct in what you wrote! May I add that it is also sometimes harder to teach many of the children who come from fatherless homes!

    • Bob One, the welfare state has failed in the past 3 years the Feds have spent $3.75 Trillion on various welfare programs and its still not enough for the advocates of the “poor”. You want to cure poverty, well as Our Lord said, the poor will ALWAYS be with us, the field will never be level..Its already too late, the moral collapse has caused most of the poverty, a collapse that was encouraged by the 60′s generation of “free love” and drug use… the sooner that wretched generation passes from the scene the better off the country will be…Kyrie Elesion

      • Abeca Christian says:

        Bob one makes sense… people do often make bad choices too. And it’s true what Tom pointed out. People have free will, but that does not excuse us from getting to the root and it is mostly due to sin. That is why we need our church to obey God and His command to feed His sheep… to Know Christ and to honor Him in all things. When people disobey the natural law, the church and those of faith need to stand firm in the truth… helping people remain decent people who can reason as well with common sense, helps improve things and helps people make better choices and better economic decisions too.

        So I can ‘t argue with Bob One on that one. We can’t neglect the fact that we need to get to the bottom of it, it’s cause, not masking it and making it worse… and those of us who know and love our Lord, know how important it is to help souls know and love Christ, fear Him. Now if we are speaking of the secular, then we need a society that is decent and with noble and good common sense, but we have been losing those traits for a while now. Now it’s all about agendas instead, causing more immoral issues that do not lead people to goodness. After all the laws are supposed to be the voice of the people, the majority vote, but now it’s only run by those who are agenda-driven vultures — and that does not have a good outcome. You may have a few in there fighting the good fight, but they may be eaten up by the vultures for their moral stand.

        • There used to be a tariff in this country on imports. It protected both the laborer and small business. Both the Democrats and the Republicans helped get rid of it, and look at this country now. As I said before, “In medius stats virtus, virtue lies in the middle.” Too much big government is damaging to the country and so is too much big business. It just lines the pockets of the rich on both sides.

          • Even the Mexican farmers cannot compete with the global economy. It is putting both some of ours and theirs out of business. Our manufacturing jobs have already gone and so have our canneries. The canneries to Mexico, but what good will it do them if their farmers go out of business. Our garlic farmers here in California are now competing with China, but luckily, the Chinese garlic is awful. I accidentally bought it once but never again. I really do not want to have to rely on other countries for our major food supply, no country should have to do so.

  9. Back in the 70′s, there was a woman with 7 kids in our parish whose husband abandoned her and his children. To provide for her family, she saw no other option but to go on “food stamps”. After a couple of months on “food stamps” a government welfare worker informed the mother that if she did not start using up the alotment of her food stamps she would loose the benefit altogether. This mother was puzzled because she was spending the same amount on food as she always had. She complained to my mother that in order to use up her allotted “food stamps” she now had to feed her children steaks and other luxury foods several days a week in order to comply.

    This taught me from an early age that government welfare was not so much about helping the needy but rather a means of so called “distributive justice” (although I hadn’t heard of the word at that time). Is there any wonder that there are so many obese poor people in our communities? Yet, whenever we are told that the poor will not be given a raise in the budget, our Bishops scream foul and demand that no “cuts” be made for the poor.

    • Kenneth M. Fisher says:

      Tracy,

      If only that was the only wrong thing our bishops did!

      May God have mercy on an amoral Amerika!
      Viva Cristo Rey!
      God bless, yours in Their Hearts
      Kenneth M. Fisher, Founding Director
      Concerned Roman Catholics of America, Inc.

    • Once you let the government in your life they will take over and you have to live to their standards. I cringed when the USCCB also pushed for no work requirement to receive government aid. This Sunday we will read how St. Paul admonishes that if you do not work you will not eat. How will the USCCB reconcile this.?

    • That unfortunate woman discovered how “charitable” government welfare really is. Either eat like the extreme wealthy with money confiscated from their neighbors by the IRS, or find help somewhere else. Today the subsidized “poor” not only eat better than I do, but many of them, here in California, live in neighborhoods, (I could only hope to live in), with the wealthy through Section 8 “subsidized housing”. After adding up all the other so called “benefits” generous politicians obtain for them, what more could a person who lives by the philosophy of materialism ask for?

      • I don’t think a story from the 1970s is very relevant today. Food stamps for a family of 8 would be about $1200 per month. A family of 8 with very small children may be able to afford luxurious items but a family of 8 with teenagers, especially with boys, is probably still making sacrifices. We want food stamps and subsidized housing to help people live better lives. That is what it is for. But there are others who are just barely making enough to survive but make too much to receive subsidies. One in 6 Americans live below the poverty line. Unexpected bills and medical expenses cause crises in families that were making it.

    • Abeca Christian says:

      Tracy, what a sad story. While I agree with you, I also can say that the reason some poor are obese, if that is the case, is that I think it’s because all they can afford is fast food, which is usually very fattening. I think that the wealthy eat better to be honest. I usually cook but there are those occasions, which can be often, that my kids and their schedules keep me busy, so we have no choice but to eat out and usually we look for inexpensive food choices but try to look for healthier options, but not many of them are affordable. If we didn’t have to worry about money, then we would be eating at a restaurant that serves more meals from scratch with organic choices, but those are expensive… for a family of 4 or 5 you could be spending as much as $70 just to eat dinner out… for us that is a lot. Now at McDonald’s, many stay at home mums on a budget, pick from the dollar menu. Maybe those on food stamps eat better, so they could probably make better choices if they wanted to but those of us struggling middle class, well we sometimes have to pick what is affordable and what is available to us. We can’t afford to even spend $45 for our family to eat out (maybe once in a while as a treat). Eating out can get expensive — but so can cooking healthy at home. Usually, the healthier choices are expensive, especially if we try to buy organic veggies and fruits. We hardly eat meat because it’s expensive so its a treat for my family.

      • Abeca, those on food stamps do not have to eat fast food in order to survive. Also, choosing more expensive “organic” food does not effect one’s weight. But I do agree with you that those of us who do not receive food stamps cannot afford to eat meat very often. I fall into this category.

        May I challenge you and others on the following statement you made; “I usually cook but there are those occasions, which can be OFTEN, that my kids and their schedules keep me busy, so we have NO choice but to eat out…” I think that you have hit on a REAL issue here. When I was growing up, my father and mother both made minimum wage. It was rare that we ate out; maybe a couple of times a year at best. We also were not involved in numerous activities away from home. The large families in my neighborhood lived the same way. Birthday parties for the children were quite modest consisting of a homemade cake with a few simple, (oftentimes homemade), party games. What I think our society lacks sorely these days is the virtue of Temperance.

        • Abeca Christian says:

          Tracy I understand. My husband did point out that those with food stamps eat stuff that we don’t often buy because it can add up. Times are changing that is for sure. My kids school is far away because I don’t like the local public schools, my kids school is a charter school which is part time and the rest if it involves home schooling, so that involves driving far, also part of their home schooling curriculum involves sports or some kind of PE, so they are in sports and their sport games are not local either because the charter school is far. Today we have to keep our kids busy to help them stay off video games, secular indoctrination..well etc etc…its hard to explain the modern day hardships we have now a days unless one is raising kids in today’s modern days. We also drive far just to get our kids to meet with devout priests who pray the rosary and have adoration and a talk for the youth…. I use to pack their lunches, sandwiches but in hot summer days, my son got sick to his stomach, as much as I tried keeping enough ice boxes in there, it didn’t keep it cool enough, so healthy snacks are good to carry as long as they don’t require refrigeration. Well I can go on and on….. But I am with you ….I understand what you mean. : )

          • Abecca, I hear what you are saying. It is unjust that you and others in your neighborhood are forced to pay money to run those unacceptable public schools through taxation.

          • Abeca Christian says:

            I hear you and I am for less government as you convey…..so I guess we do our best with what we have no power or control over. : )

          • Abeca Christian says:

            Tracy lets offer up prayers and whatever support we can to those in the Philippines….they said that the storm probably killed about 10.000. That is a staggering number. Today I was reflecting and I feel blessed for everything I have and my family, I cried for those right now in those parts of the world, many do not know if their family members are alive. They are trying to get them food and supplies but another storm stopped them from getting there. Makes me think of how blessed I am and how blessed our family is too….we are alive and still in tact in our homes.

            If anyone knows reliable resources to whom we can send money or clothes to help the Philippines…please post here…I was told the Red Cross can help but my husband says that the CEO probably takes most of the funds…..so I feel conflicted where to trust to send the help…can anyone help? Any info? God bless you.

          • Catholic Relief Services, Caritas International. The American Red Cross has a special webpage where you can donate for typhoon relief in the Philippines. The CEO cannot take any of the money. It can only go to disaster relief in the typhoon area. The Red Cross is very strict about that. The Red Cross is involved in trying to locate the missing, providing shelter and emergency food and relief supplies. They will be setting up a satellite communication center. There are 1200 emergency shelters housing 300,000 people.

          • Abeca, I am praying for those affected in the Philippines. Your husband is right about the Red Cross. I would never donate a penny to them. Back in the 30′s a tornado struck my mother’s home town. The Red Cross used this opportunity to raise funds for relief efforts. She tells me that not one penny/nor any help went to her family members nor their neighbors who were affected.

            Now I am not saying that the Red Cross never helps anyone. What I am saying is that they already have a yearly budget in place before any potential disasters take place. The money they collect for the so called relief efforts is kept for future budgets. In addition many of their paid employees make enormous six figure incomes. This is the dirty little secret with many non-profits. I would encourage you and others that before you write another check to your favorite charity that you first request a copy of their 990 tax form. By law they must provide one when asked. The responsible charities tend to post them on their websites. (I am not talking about financial statements, I am talking about Form 990 which gives you far clearer information).

          • Abeca Christian says:

            Anony thank you so much, you don’t know how much I appreciate this info…..God bless you for sharing this with me and paying attention closely to my post as I asked for this info. Your charity is precious..in this time of need for our brothers and sisters in those parts of the world.

            “What does the poor man do at the rich man’s door, the sick man in the presence of his physician, the thirsty man at a limpid stream? What they do, I do before the Eucharistic God. I pray. I adore. I love.” -St. Francis

          • Abeca Christian says:

            Tracy thank you, I knew my husband was right to be concerned. I just wanted to make sure. So I will look into Anony’s other selection as well. Thank you for that information, giving us the correct verbiage as well on what to look for in regards to the taxes. Tracy You have a lot of good knowledge to share with us and I am grateful. I will do what you suggested. God bless you. : )

            “I bind to myself today the power in the love of the Seraphim, in the obedience of the Angels, in the ministration of the Archangels, in the hope of Resurrection unto reward, in the prayers of the Patriarchs, in the predictions of the Prophets, in the preaching of the Apostles, in the faith of the Confessors, in the purity of the holy Virgins, in the deeds of Righteous men.”
            ~~~~~St. Patrick of Ireland

          • Cross Catholic Outreach is also collecting for the typhoon victims.

          • Tracy’s information on the Red Cross is not correct. Money donated for disasters can only be used for disasters. If it is designated for a specific disaster, it can only be used for that specific situation. The head of the Red Cross does make a six-figure income. The administration costs of the American Red Cross come from United Way and Combined Federal Campaigns. Donations not given for a specific purpose go into a general account.

          • You are welcome Abeca. By the way, I love the entire St. Patricks Lorica. I haven’t prayed it in a while. Thank you for the reminder!

          • Anonymous, do you really believe what you just posted? The Red Cross has been, shall we say, “caught Red handed time and time again. I would never advise anyone give to them.

  10. How many Catholics who live in parishes in the LA Archdiocese, who receive “Together in Mission” money, do you think have ever heard a sermon on “Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbors Goods”? I myself have only heard of one. After the faithful priest of that parish in Inglewood educated his parishioners on this Commandment, the money in the offering basket increased to the point that the LA Archdiocese took away the “charity” they where receiving and in return imposed the “Together in Mission Tax” on them so that they could now “charitably” pay for the other remaining so-called “poor parishes” in the archdiocese.

  11. Abeca Christian says:

    We can’t neglect that there are the poor. People can and do struggle. I see it around me. Its a pity when you see a family lose their home because their main provider lost his job. Those are the ones we need to help, so they don’t lose their home and become system dependent. How about the elder women who’s husband’s pass away and find themselves not financially well, some refinance their homes to pay for their debts and their husband’s funeral…..they find themselves in a pickle but the system won’t help them because they are a home owner…our system needs to improve, and only help those keep their homes so they can live in them and not stress where the money will come in to make the next mortgage payment….

    • Abeca, I agree with you that we can’t neglect the poor. The issues you raised are real. First of all, and I say this from repeated experience, I have sadly found that it is an extreme rarity where I find someone who lives their lives as I have chosen to live mine. I was raised to live within my means. This has meant that I have had a standard of living oftentimes well below my fellow coworkers and/or classmates who gladly accepted government handouts. This being said, I have only been in debt once. (Again, this is almost never true of most people I know.) That one time was when I borrowed half the money I needed from my father for my first car. I lived very frugally for the next 12 months in order to pay him back. As I have said before, I have rarely made over minimum wage throughout most of my working years. In addition, I have had situations where my health temporarily prevented me from working. I have always given to the poor, but I try to find organizations who are trying to educate the poor, in 3rd world countries, who would otherwise not be able to receive one. I also give to pro-life causes because nobody is as “poor” as an unborn baby.

      The real poverty I see around me is the poverty of lack of understanding of the Gospel and a neglect of the 10 Commandments. What we do have in our world, is an abundance of “Coveting our Neighbor’s Goods” (the thinking that somehow we have a right to live like those who have more than us).

      • Abeca Christian says:

        yes Tracy, I understand what you mean…..the real poverty is a spiritual one. I have tried to convey that before. I also know that the rich can also be poor….deep from within due to lack of virtues or poor in love….Its late, I am finding myself to lack conveying well but I would love to reach deeper and express that I understand what you mean about the real poverty. I think also that people don’t see suffering as a growth as well or at least an opportunity to grow in virtue. Its easier said than done. God’s graces moves the soul ….it is He whose mercy continues to save us from our own flaws. His patience is great, His love is unending. I feel blessed more and more but little do we know, that it is not when we feel so high in our confidence that matters, but it is in suffering and abandonment where we find Christ, even if sometimes we do not feel His presence. Fear the Lord…..that is when we are rich in what really matters. But humility also tells us that we accept that not all our brothers and sisters have gained these special graces and that by our love for them at their level of understanding, can actually also be for our own good. So mercy also means to look at things at face value and to remain silent and take on the suffering of others, not as we would have them be approached.

        • Abeca Christian says:

          Tracy its because we live in a materialist world. Many are a byproduct of this secular thinking. Those of us who may have a better clue….then we look to our brethren with love and mercy, compassion. They are here for us too, their existence in our lives, are there for our own growth as well, if we choose to apply our selves. Action comes into to place with our charity and prayer. I believe in the way the Holy Ghost leads one, its not how we debate on how to approach or treat the poor….it is not something to debate about, don’t get me wrong, perhaps it is in regards to the flaws of systems but looking down to real issues, it’s always about the hungry, thirsty and the naked also the poor in spirit, whether they be rich or poor. Its about what comes natural to God’s lay faithful….politics are politics and books are books…but put all those aside…you have the human dignity, it’s the soul, the person…..

          When one tends to the sick, we deal with the moment and their symptoms…looking at them as Christ does in tenderness. We are all sick, we all need the great physician, which is Christ.

          I wish I knew you, I would love to treat you for lunch….so Ill pray that our Lord will bless you on my behave……

          • Abeca, Our Lord is always full of surprises! I wouldn’t be surprised if we do meet one day! Until then I am grateful that you are here sharing the wisdom given to you with me!

  12. Abeca Christian says:

    “The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty — it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There’s a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.”
    ― Mother Teresa, A Simple Path: Mother Teresa

    • Abeca Christian says:

      “Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.”
      ― Mother Teresa

    • Catherine says:

      Abeca, Those are both beautiful quotes from Blessed Mother Teresa. Thank you!

      • Abeca Christian says:

        I agree with you Catherine..they are beautiful…glad you enjoy them as well…Your welcome sweet sister in Christ.

  13. Anton L Seidl says:

    No-one denies the need for a social safety net for those unable to work for any reason. But, as so many of our correspondents have indicated, once the government takes over charity, the sky is the limit. There are many working people paying taxes to enable their less ambitious neighbors to maintain lifestyles they, as taxpayers and productive members of society, cannot afford themselves. No society can long afford millions of able-bodied people on the dole. Our bishops should not neglect the working majority in their misguided efforts to perpetuate a welfare state that is bankrupting the country. Even pope Francis has recently attacked capitalism as though it were solely responsible for poverty in the world, rather than socialist governments who cannot keep the lights on despite sitting on plentiful natural resources, as is the case in modern-day Venezuela.

    • Anton, great post! After Chile abolished their socialistic welfare state, the standard of living went up even for those in the lowest levels of their society.

      Socialism lowers the standard of living for everyone, except for those in the ruling class.

      • Anton L Seidl says:

        Thank you, Tracy! The world is replete with examples of failing socialist economies which turn around as if by magic when they give up their utopian dreams. How can our politicians be so blind as to miss a case like Chile, for one. I believe they are ideologically averse to allowing a free economy work, because some people become wealthier than others in such societies. This seems to offend them. As far as our bishops are concerned, they seem to be ideologically joined at the hip with the democrat party.

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