The most charitable act in the world

Larry Smith

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver designed a new logo, pictured above, that features an image of a crucifix once used on St. John Paul II’s staff. The design represents a renewal of the organization’s commitment to serve Christ, who made the ultimate sacrifice by dying on the cross.

A man at Samaritan House said recently that the homeless shelter helped him find a job by providing “a place to sleep, a place to shower, a place to get groomed for a job interview (and) a sack lunch to take” for the day.

That’s what we do at Catholic Charities.

Jesus Christ died on the cross to save us for all eternity.

That’s why we do it.

Serving Jesus Christ by serving others is at the heart of our many ministries.

At Samaritan House in downtown Denver, we put more than 350 people to bed each night, amounting to more than 125,000 nights of shelter a year. Our other shelters include St. Joseph’s Home for Veterans, Father Ed Judy House for women and children, The Mission in Fort Collins and Guadalupe Community Center in Greeley. We plan to open Holy Rosary Center for Women, a temporary shelter, in Denver.

Our shelters provide not just a place for those experiencing homelessness to sleep, but a way to get back on their feet, to regain their dignity, self-reliance and self-respect; to become contributors to society. And hopefully, to give back to others.

Our mission begins with Jesus Christ and that’s why our new Catholic Charities’ logo begins with the crucifix. The crucifix is the most charitable symbol in the world, because the ultimate charitable act is to give yourself completely for others, as Jesus Christ did.

I humbly ask you to join us in this service, however you feel called to participate. As Thanksgiving draws near, and then the Advent season that leads to Christmas, our hearts naturally open to the needs of others. Below are three things you can do right now. However you participate, it will be greatly appreciated by the people who need it the most.

Three things you can do right now:

Sign up to serve. Visit our volunteer portal here and see for yourself the many needs that exist in our areas of Family and Child Care Services, Women’s Services, and Housing and Shelter Services.

Buy an extra turkey and bring it to Samaritan House at 2301 Lawrence St. in Denver. Phone: 303-294-0241. Or, if you’d prefer to make a financial donation directly, click on the “Help the Homeless” banner atop our website at www.ccdenver.org.

Donate $100, $250, $500 or more to Catholic Charities on Colorado Gives Day Dec. 9. Better yet, go to www.ccdenver.org right now and click on the Colorado Gives Day banner to pre-set that donation.

Larry Smith is the president and CEO of Catholic Charities of the Denver Archdiocese. Visit us online at www.ccdenver.org or call 303-742-0828 to learn more, volunteer or make a donation.

COMING UP: Navigating major cultural challenges

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We’re navigating through a true rock and a hard place right now: moral relativism and the oversaturation of technology. In fact, they are related. Moral relativism leaves us without a compass to discern the proper use of technology. And technological oversaturation leads to a decreased ability to think clearly about what matters most and how to achieve it.

Fortunately, we have some Odysseus-like heroes to guide our navigation. Edward Sri’s book Who Am I to Judge?: Responding to Relativism with Logic and Love (Augustine Institute, 2017) provides a practical guide for thinking through the moral life and how to communicate to others the truth in love. Christopher Blum and Joshua Hochschild take on the second challenge with their book A Mind at Peace: Reclaiming an Ordered Soul in the Age of Distraction (Sophia, 2017).

Sri’s book describes conversations that have become quite common. When discussing moral issues, we hear too often, “this is true for me,” “I feel this is right,” or “who am I to judge?” We are losing our ability both to think about and discuss moral problems in a coherent fashion. Morality has become an expression of individual and subjective feeling, rather than clear reasoning based on the truth. In fact, many, or even most, young people would say there is no clear truth when it comes to morality—the very definition of relativism.

Beyond this inability to reason clearly, Christians also face pressure to remain silent in the face of immoral action, shamed into a corner with the label of bigotry. In response to our moral crisis, Sri encourages us to learn more about our own great tradition of morality focused on virtue and happiness. He also provides excellent guidance on how to engage others in a loving conversation to help them consider that our actions relate not only to our own fulfillment, but to our relationships with others.

Sri points out that it’s hard to “win” an argument with relativists, because “relativistic tendencies are rooted in various assumptions they have absorbed from the culture an in habits of thinking and living they have formed over a lifetime” (13). Rather than “winning,” Sri advises us to accompany others through moral and spiritual growth with seven keys, described in the second half of the book. These keys help us to see others through the heart of Christ, with mercy, and to reframe discussions about morality, turning more toward love and addressing underlying wounds. Ultimately, he asks us, “will you be Jesus?” to those struggling with relativism. (155).

Blum and Hochschild’s book complements Sri’s by focusing on the virtues we need to address our cultural challenges. They point to another common concern we all face: a “crisis of attention” as our minds wander, preoccupied with social media (2). More positively, they encourage us to “be consoled” as “there are remedies” to help us “regain an ordered and peaceful mind, which thinks more clearly and attends more steadily” (ibid.). The path they point out can be found in a virtuous and ordered life guided by wisdom.

To achieve peace, we need virtues and other good habits, which create order within us. “With order, our attention is focused, directed, clear, trustworthy, and fruitful” (10). The book encourages us to rediscover fundamental realities of life, such as being attune to our senses and to aspire to higher and noble things. The authors, with the help of the saints, provide a guidebook to forming important dispositions to overcome the addiction and distraction that come with the omnipresence of media and technology.

The book’s chapters address topics such as self-awareness, steadfastness, resilience, watchfulness, creativity, purposefulness, and decisiveness.  These dispositions will create order in how we use our tools and within our inner faculties. They will help us to be more intentional in our action so that we do not succumb to passivity and distraction.  Overall, the book leads us to consider how we can rediscover simple and profound realities, such as a good conversation, periods of silence, and a rightly ordered imagination.

Both books help us to navigate our culture, equipping us to respond more intentionally to the interior and exterior challenges we face.