The great thing about gifts is that, more often than not, giving and receiving them are occasions of joy and happiness. The only time I have ever truly surprised my husband – to the point of him being speechless – was more than twenty years ago. We had been together for about a year, and I surprised him with tickets to an event. I felt overjoyed to be able to give that gift to him!
At my former parish, we had a big fall festival each year and I had a booth at the market fair selling the rosaries I make. Normally, I would keep the proceeds from my sales, but one year, the priests wanted to renovate a room in their rectory to convert it into a chapel. I decided that I would match the amount I made at the fair and donate it to the project. I felt delighted to be able to give that gift to our valued priests.
When I was a single mom in my early twenties, I had finally gotten a good, full-time job and was able to afford my own apartment. Since I had no money for furniture, a group from my church, who managed a small warehouse of donations, helped me choose a couch, a dining room table and chairs, and bedroom furniture. I felt humbled and blessed to receive that gift.
More than fifteen years ago, after having been away from the Catholic Church for nearly twenty years, I went to confession. I can never fully describe the joy I felt, and I will be forever grateful for that gift of forgiveness. “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (II Cor 9:15)
In moments such as these, where we experience such delight and gratitude, we are quite close to what God intended for us to experience all the time! Genesis 3:8 begins, “When they heard the sound of the Lord God walking about in the garden at the breezy time of the day…” Adam and Eve were not startled by this, so we can infer that this was a regular thing for God. Can you imagine how happy we would be, just managing the beautiful gardens and chatting with God as he wandered by in the “breezy time of day”?! Unfortunately, this verse ends with, “…the man and his wife hid themselves from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” Sin had entered the world when they ate of the forbidden fruit. Therefore, we don’t get to enjoy that blissful garden experience. However, we have an even more amazing example of God’s giving nature: Jesus. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (John 3:16). God gave us his son – willingly!
Giving is part of us. God literally designed us to be givers, too! When we give, we feel a certain sense of joy and fulfillment. When we receive gifts, we experience a humble happiness, especially if there is no way that we could return the gesture. Countless studies have been done on how a daily sense of gratitude can influence nearly every aspect of our lives. An article from Harvard Health Publishing of Harvard Medical School indicates, “gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships” (https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier). Amazingly, the more grateful we are for our own blessings, the more we want to share our blessings with others!
Ultimately, when we give, we fulfill a core aspect of our humanity. This is why we encourage everyone to donate to many causes throughout the year, volunteer for numerous ministries and events, and share ideas, skills, and prayers with others. Spontaneous giving and random acts of kindness are fun ways to give and usually make for great stories. However, large or long-term gifts take planning. Often, we might “count the cost” of a gift based on its value in time or money. “How long do I have to commit to this ministry or that event?” “How much money do I have right now to give?” If we consider only the immediate value of the reward, then we are not thinking about the long-term benefits of our own giving.
Intentionally planning a gift makes it more valuable. If on Sunday, I give whatever cash is in my pocket, it won’t be much because I hardly ever carry cash! If I think about volunteering, it might be for a short amount of time at a single event. Yet committing to a ministry for a year means I might need to adjust my calendar to ensure I can be at each meeting. Likewise, if I want to provide a meaningful gift to our parish, I need to include it in my monthly budget. How many times do we hear about recurring gifts to the church or other charity? When presented with an opportunity to give our time, talent, or treasure, we may respond with a one-time yes. However, if there is an option to give once a month, then we have easily multiplied our gift!
Considering all of the responsibilities in life that require our time and money, it’s easy to see why planning ahead becomes more beneficial to both ourselves and those receiving our efforts. The popular adage, “time is money,” is especially true when it comes to our parish! More than 300 people in our parish give their time to various ministries. From one hour of adoration in the chapel, to serving at Mass, to passing out food boxes to the needy – the combined value of time is immeasurable. Our prayers and works build up the Body of Christ – not only our parish family of families, but also the greater Church!
Our staff members make every effort to communicate the many ways to give at our parish so that you can prepare. If you have questions about a charity, second collection, or organization that we ask you to support, please feel free to call the parish office or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would be more than happy to discuss, research, and implement prudent changes to ensure the best use of our efforts.
If you are interested in becoming more intentional about your own giving to the parish, we encourage you to sign up for recurring giving – whether through our online giving option or through your bank’s bill-pay system.
Likewise, it is even more important to become intentional about your prayer life. While there are numerous smartphone apps or daily devotionals to choose from, we would like to recommend one of the most profound ways to deepen your prayer time: a holy hour every week with Jesus! Making a commitment to the same hour each week might mean adjusting your schedule, but we can guarantee that you will be blessed – multiple times over – for that time you give to Him.
This week, consider how giving, gratitude, and intentional efforts might enrich your life as well as the lives of others. What a perfectly joyful win-win situation!BACK TO LIST