#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: Forming mind and heart in faith

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“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Romans 12:2).

People tell me pretty regularly that we should not over-intellectualizing the faith — making the Church simply about ideas, doctrines, and rules. I agree that this can be a problem, but we also have to guard seriously against an opposite problem — emotionalizing and privatizing faith. We are blessed with a reasonable faith that can be studied in harmony with the truth of the natural world. Faith and reason strengthen one another, together leading our minds to conform to the mind of the God who is our Creator and Redeemer. In the midst of a secularism which pits science against the faith, it is important that we form our minds in the truth. Being rooted in the truth of our faith does not lead to abstract ideas, but to an encounter with the living God which sets our hearts on fire with His love.

The Dominicans have a long history of teaching the faith, founded originally to preach to those who had fallen into the dualistic heresy of Albigensian and producing the Common Doctor of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas. The papal theologian, who advised the pope, by tradition comes from St. Dominic’s Order. One of the most renown Dominicans teaching in the United States, Father Thomas Joseph White, has recently been called to Rome to teach at the Angelicum, the Pontifical University of the Dominicans. Father White, though a profound scholar, has produced a clear and accessible overview of the Catholic faith.

Father White’s book, The Light of Christ: An Introduction to Catholicism (Catholic University of America Press, 2017) offers a serious overview of the Catholic faith. It is not a scholarly work, but one that does challenge us to enter more deeply into the theological tradition of the Church, flowing from the Bible and Catechism, the Fathers, and especially the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas. Part of the genius of the book is how it uses the theological tradition to address contemporary concerns such as evolution, sexual ethics, and relativism. The book contains seven major sections—Reason and Revelation, God and Trinity, Creation and the Human Person, Incarnation and Atonement, the Church, Social Doctrine, and the Last Things—as well as a robust epilogue on prayer.

Father White challenges us to “to be an intellectual. . . to seek to see into the depths of reality” (1). As intellectual beings, we have been created in the image of God and are called to enter into his truth and life. Therefore, White reminds us that “every person has to accept risk in truth’s call to us. Even religious indifference is a kind of risk, perhaps the greatest of all, for if nothing is ventured, nothing is gained. The mind is reason’s instrument, but the heart its seat” (5). Therefore, the ultimate questions lead the mind into prayerful contemplation of the truth. Theology cannot remain an intellectual enterprise alone, but must lead us to encounter God in prayer: “Prayer is grounded in our natural desire for the truth. When we pray we are trying to find God, to praise him, and to see all things realistically in light of him. In a sense, then, prayer stems from a search for perspective” (288).

Our faith forms us as a whole person and shapes our feelings and desires according to what is highest. Father White rightly points out that “heart and intelligence go together” (49). When it comes to God, intellectual theory is not enough, as he calls us to know him in a “concrete, personal, affective relationship” (48). This does not mean that we can dispense with theology. Quite to the contrary, “we want to get right who God is, and what the mystery of Christ is, so that we can be in living contact with divine love” (42). God speaks to us so that we may come to know him by exercising our minds to know the truth given us through the Church (36).

Knowing God is the work a lifetime and our eternal vocation. We can strengthen our faith by studying theological truths and deepening our capacity to contemplate divine things. Father White’s book will help us all to be theologians, entering into the practice of theology as faith seeking understanding. As we come to know God more, it should lead us to fall in love with him more deeply, strengthening our relationship with him and preparing us to see him face to face.