Giving and discipleship journey hand-in-hand

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“Remember the poor,” was the only condition given to St. Paul by Sts. Peter, James and John before leaving to minister to the Gentiles (Gal 2: 10). By “the poor” they meant the church of Jerusalem. And Paul was “eager” to do it.

In his journey, Paul received various responses from the different communities asking them to give each according to their means, but none as great as the one from the Church of Macedonia, which he praised.

“Their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of liberality on their part,” he writes. “For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own free will, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints” (2 Cor 8:2-4).

The Macedonian community gave generously “beyond their needs” out of “abundance of joy.”

Christians are called to give “according to their needs” but “cheerfully” and “generously” (2 Cor 9:7, 11).

The Church recognizes that giving is part of the stewardship of our time, talents and goods, and that stewardship is a key part of being true disciples of Christ.

When giving becomes hard, the Church understands that it is a journey, for it is part of being a follower of Christ.

“Following Jesus is the work of a lifetime. At every step forward, one is challenged to go further in accepting and loving God’s will,” says the Pastoral Letter on Stewardship by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. “Stewardship involves a lifelong process of study, reflection, prayer, and action… This conversion of mind and heart will not happen overnight, but, as always, the Holy Spirit is at work in the Church today.”

To be more open to the call to give generously, Jack and Judy Pottle, parishioners at Queen of Peace Parish and long-time supporters of Denver’s Catholic Charities and Catholic schools, say that it’s important for the Christian to find something they are passionate about.

“Find something that resonates with you. For us, it became education,” Judy said. “Also find something where you can provide not only financial support but a skill. Time, talent and treasure are all needed to support a cause. It takes team work to make it happen.”

Giving means a lot to the person or organization receiving the gift, she affirmed: “When giving, we want them to feel that we have faith in them and their cause.”

To do so, Jack and Judy choose to give through the Catholic Foundation. Although people can give directly to different causes, giving through the Foundation has the advantage of providing staff expertise, faith-based priorities and a morally-responsible investment policy.

Moreover, it accepts current and deferred gifts to provide financial resources for categories in caring for the community, education, evangelization, parishes, seminarians, etc.

By being a public charity, a public juridical person of the Catholic Church and a separate legal entity from the Archdiocese of Denver, it is able to safeguard the gifts of the faithful for the charitable purpose they specify.

“Truly, to whom much has been given, much is expected,” Jack said. “We feel humbled by other’s generosity and called to continue to share our blessings. Ultimately, we want to share Christ.”

For more information about the Catholic Foundation, visit thecatholicfoundation.com.

COMING UP: Five Hispanic-American saints perhaps you didn’t know

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The American continent has had its share of saints in the last five centuries. People will find St. Juan Diego, St. Rose of Lima or St. Martin de Porres among the saints who enjoy greater popular devotion. Yet September, named Hispanic Heritage Month, invites a deeper reflection on the lives of lesser-known saints who have deeply impacted different Latin-American countries through their Catholic faith and work, and whose example has the power to impact people anywhere around the world. Here are just a few perhaps you didn’t know.

St. Toribio de Mogrovejo
1538-1606
Peru

Born in Valladolid, Spain, Toribio was a pious young man and an outstanding law student. As a professor, his great reputation reached the ears of King Philip II, who eventually nominated him for the vacant Archdiocese of Lima, Peru, even though Toribio was not even a priest. The Pope accepted the king’s request despite the future saint’s protests. So, before the formal announcement, he was ordained a priest, and a few months later, a bishop. He walked across his archdiocese evangelizing the natives and is said to have baptized nearly half a million people, including St. Rose of Lima and St. Martin de Porres. He learned the local dialects, produced a trilingual catechism, fought for the rights of the natives, and made evangelization a major theme of his episcopacy. Moreover, he worked devotedly for an archdiocesan reform after realizing that diocesan priests were involved in impurities and scandals. He predicted the date and hour of his death and is buried in the cathedral of Lima, Peru.

St. Mariana of Jesus Paredes
1618-1645
Ecuador

St. Mariana was born in Quito, modern-day Ecuador, and not only became the country’s first saint, but was also declared a national heroine by the Republic of Ecuador. As a little girl, Mariana showed a profound love for God and practiced long hours of prayer and mortification. She tried joining a religious order on two occasions, but various circumstances would not permit it. This led Mariana to realize that God was calling her to holiness in the world. She built a room next to her sister’s house and devoted herself to prayer and penance, living miraculously only off the Eucharist. She was known to possess the gifts of counsel and prophecy. In 1645, earthquakes and epidemics broke out in Quito, and she offered her life and sufferings for their end. They stopped after she made her offering. On the day of her death, a lily is said to have bloomed from the blood that was drawn out and poured in a flowerpot, earning her the title of “The Lily of Quito.”

St. Theresa of Los Andes
1900-1920
Chile

St. Theresa of Jesus of Los Andes was Chile’s first saint and the first Discalced Carmelite to be canonized outside of Europe. Born as Juana, the future saint was known to struggle with her temperament as a child. She was proud, selfish and stubborn. She became deeply attracted to God at the age six, and her extraordinary intelligence allowed her to understand the seriousness of receiving First Communion. Juana changed her life and became a completely different person by the age of 10, practicing mortification and deep prayer. At age 14, she decided to become a Discalced Carmelite and received the name of Theresa of Jesus. Deeply in love with Christ, the young and humble religious told her confessor that Jesus told her she would die soon, something she accepted with joy and faith. Shortly thereafter, Theresa contracted typhus and died at the age of 19. Although she was 6 months short of finishing her novitiate, she was able to profess vows “in danger of death.” Around 100,000 pilgrims visit her shrine in Los Andes annually.

St. Laura Montoya
1874-1949
Colombia

After Laura’s father died in war when she was only a child, she was forced to live with different family members in a state of poverty. This reality kept her from receiving formal education during her childhood. What no one expected is that one day she would become Colombia’s first saint. Her aunt enrolled her in a school at the age of 16, so she would become a teacher and make a living for herself. She learned quickly and became a great writer, educator and leader. She was a pious woman and wished to devote herself to the evangelization of the natives. As she prepared to write Pope Pius X for help, she received the pope’s new Encyclical Lacrymabili Statu, on the deplorable condition of Indians in America. Laura saw it as a confirmation from God and founded the Missionaries of the Immaculate Heart and St. Catherine of Siena, working for the evangelization of natives and fighting or their behalf to be seen as children of God.

St. Manuel Morales
1898-1926
Mexico

Manuel was a layman and one of many martyrs from Mexico’s Cristero War in the 1920s. He joined the seminary as a teen but had to abandon this dream in order to support his family financially. He became a baker, married and had three children. This change, however, did not prevent him from bearing witness to the faith publicly. He became the president of the National League for the Defense of Religious Liberty, which was being threatened by the administration of President Plutarco Elías Calles. Morales and two other leaders from the organization were taken prisoners as they discussed how to free a friend priest from imprisonment through legal means. They were beaten, tortured and then killed for not renouncing to their faith. Before the firing squad, the priest begged the soldiers to forgive Morales because he had a family. Morales responded, “I am dying for God, and God will take care of my children.” His last words were, “Long live Christ the King and Our Lady of Guadalupe!”