#Giving Tuesday: A great day to do good

‘Tis the season to do good, but especially on Giving Tuesday.

Americans are more generous than ever, according to a report by Giving USA, especially on #Giving Tuesday, an online movement specifically focused on giving to charity on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

Giving USA found that U.S. charities saw an estimated $390 billion in donations in 2016, an increase of nearly 4 percent from 2015. Giving to religion increased 3 percent, with an estimated $122 billion in contributions. And many givers chose #GivingTuesday to share their generosity, giving $177 million last year, according to GivingTuesday.org.

On the special giving day and throughout the holiday season, people volunteer, raise awareness and donate money to charitable organizations of their choice. Such giving opportunities to Catholic organizations are available in Denver’s backyard and online.

Giving that does good

“Leaving a gift in support of our Catholic faith is perhaps the easiest way to show your love for our God and His Church – giving back a portion of all He has given us,” said Jean Finegan, director of planned giving and development for The Catholic Foundation of Northern Colorado.

The Catholic Foundation, based in Denver, is a generous giver’s most efficient way to support multiple charities, with its ability to offer various options including, appreciated stock, planned gifts, real estate and personal property, retirement plans, insurance policies, and more.

Finegan said even if cash is not on hand, there are other avenues to give back in faith.

Making a difference

Giving is as much about the receiver as the giver, and Catholic Charities of Denver offers something for everyone.

“Charity is about giving and receiving. That’s the beauty of Christ’s design,” said Larry Smith, president and CEO of Catholic Charities of Denver. “We think we lose something when we give, but to give is to receive and to receive is to give. That’s the beauty of it. It’s important to be a part of that process.”

Its continuum of care model offers multiple services to those in need. From Marisol Health, a network of medical clinics that provide life-affirming care, to shelter services, which provide short- and long-term housing and supportive services to help individuals and families become self-reliant—givers can see their generosity provide both material and spiritual support.

Catholic Charities offers opportunities to pray, volunteer and donate to its all its ministries including, early childhood education, Gabriel House, Marisol Homes, Samaritan House, Mulroy Senior Center, emergency assistance, Sacred Heart Counseling, and more.

Investing in future generations

“We really want to make it possible for any family that is in need to send their kid to Catholic school if they so desire,” said Jay Clark, executive director of Seeds of Hope. “The face of Denver is changing, which means where people are in need is changing as well.”

Seeds of Hope, which makes Catholic education accessible to needy students, expanded its mission to provide aid to any of the Archdiocese of Denver’s 37 Catholic schools, beyond the nine urban schools previously served. Giving to the organization would provide more children with a quality Catholic education and bright future.

Givers passionate about Catholic education can continue their support by giving to Bishop Machebeuf High School and Holy Family High School. Both archdiocesan schools offer a faith-based environment and rigorous academics that set-up youth for success.

Building a community

Centro San Juan Diego, the groundbreaking institute that provides faith formation and education services to enrich the lives of Hispanics in Denver, offers givers a chance to build the community.

The growing number of Hispanic individuals and families—an estimated 445,000 Catholics of Hispanic descent live in the archdiocese—presented a need to empower and support their development into faithful and integrated leaders of the community.

Givers can support the organization’s programs including, citizenship and English classes, tax preparation, small business training, computer classes, Bibles studies, youth faith formation, family ministry, lay pastoral minister certification, online bachelor’s degrees, and more.

A gift to Centro is an investment in the community.

COMING UP: Relativism: An obstacle to the pursuit of truth

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When I was a kid, my favorite television show was The Partridge Family. Mostly because I was completely enamored of the late David Cassidy, whom I was convinced I would marry some day. But also because the show featured just the kind of mildly corny humor a seven year old is inclined to enjoy.

I remember one joke in particular. Keith (David Cassidy) is trying to give big brotherly advice to Danny (Danny Bonaduce). He says “If you just believe, you can be anything you want to be.”

Danny responds, “Great! I want to be a black woman.” Laugh track ensues. Because everybody knows that a pale white, red-headed, freckle-faced kid cannot grow up to be a black woman.

I was thinking about that scene as I was listening to Bishop Robert Barron Feb. 6, giving a riveting talk on relativism to a packed house here in Denver. As he spoke about the philosophical underpinnings of relativistic thinking, I realized that joke couldn’t be told today. Because, as a society, we don’t seem to agree that race, gender, or just about anything else, are based in any kind of objective truth.

Bishop Barron spoke of a video you may have seen. A rather short male interviewer asks college students what they would think if he told them he identifies as a woman. Then an Asian woman. Then a 6’4” Asian woman. They hesitate at times, but all ultimately agree that if that is his “truth,” then he is indeed entitled to be a tall Asian woman.

That is the ultimate expression of relativism.

Relativism, boiled down, is essentially the belief that there is no “objective” truth that is true for all. Rather, we as individuals, each establish our own subjective “truths,” and we live “authentically” to the extent that we honor these individual “truths.”

The speed with which we have descended down this path is breathtaking. When I was in my 20’s (which was not long ago at all — right???), I used to debate abortion at Berkeley. Not exactly a friendly audience — I remember mentally noting exits, including windows, that I could utilize if things got out of hand. But they showed up, and they listened, because there was still some understanding in society that there was such a thing as truth, and hence an openness to listen to others to see if together we could arrive at that truth. Or, at the very least, that I could employ the truth as I see it to convince you that your understanding of the truth is flawed.

Not so today. Open discussion of controversial issues is almost nonexistent on most college campuses. Of course. If I have my truth and you have your truth, what would be the point? We are just supposed to respect each others’ truths and move on.

But the problem is that we all have to play together in the same sandbox. Somebody’s truth has to rule our social interaction. If we can’t come to an agreement about whose truth is truer, then the only option left is force. And so, instead of listening to what you have to say, I attempt to forcibly shut you down. I smash windows. I disrupt your talk. Or, alternatively, I call on the authority of the university to do that dirty work for me while I hide in a safe space with my crayons and puppy videos.

Pope Benedict XVI called relativism a “dictatorship.” And, ironically, it is. The philosophy that purports to allow everyone to believe as he wishes, actually allows no one to believe in anything but relativism. And because there need be no rhyme nor reason behind any individual belief, enforcement through persuasion becomes impossible. Hence, the inevitable clash of ideologies. And it will be the stronger, not the most persuasive, who will prevail.

Parents, please — teach your children that there is such a thing as truth. That yes, we may disagree with others about what that truth is. That we respect people — all people — regardless of their beliefs. (Another objective truth.) But beneath the disagreement, there is a truth. There is a God or there isn’t. Jesus Christ is divine or He isn’t. Sexual expression has an inherent meaning or it doesn’t. Gender is fixed or it isn’t.

[And parents, if you want help with this, get your hands on Chris Stefanik’s book Absolute Relativism, and check out his YouTube videos on the same subject.]

In any disagreement about objective truths, someone is right and someone is wrong. Or perhaps both are partially wrong and neither grasps the full truth. But the truth is there.

In the old days, our goal was to find it.