As the Social Justice and Outreach Coordinator, I get many opportunities to witness the great generosity of our parishioners and others in the community all throughout the year! I was amazed once again as we gathered over 360,000 bottles of water this summer for the thirsty. This October, over the course of two weekends, our Men’s Club collected enough clothes to fill a 20-foot U-haul truck, which was then donated to St. Joseph the Worker! However, if I had to pick a time of year, or season, that really stands out when it comes to generosity, it would have to be the one we are entering into now. We are in the first week of November, which means in the next couple of weeks, we will start sharing information about our Giving Tree and Adopt-a-Family programs. And as we enter into Advent, you will be encouraged to bring donations of white socks with you to Mass each week. The generous response to all these different giving opportunities this time of year always blows me away… and I’m sure this year will be no different!
This got me thinking, however, about the idea of generosity in general. For some, generosity comes naturally and for others, it can be more of a challenge. A lot of times when we think of giving and generosity, the first things that come to mind are giving money or goods (that usually cost money!). And while this is certainly wonderful (and appreciated!), for some people this is easier or more possible than it is for others. But, there are actually many ways we can practice generosity during this season that go beyond simply giving of our monetary resources. You can be generous with…
~ your time: volunteer, put in the effort to build a relationship, give a listening ear
~ your words: say thank you, give encouragement, express love, give compliments
~ your attention: stop multitasking and give someone your full attention, don’t interrupt
~ your hospitality: make someone feel welcome, include others who may be left out
~ your talent: share a knowledge/expertise, teach someone something
~ your mercy: forgive someone (or yourself!), apologize when necessary
~ your acceptance: try to see things from another point of view, give others the benefit of the doubt, assume positive intent
Pope Francis said, “Let us ask the Lord for the grace of being generous, so that our hearts may be opened and we may be kinder.” The next couple months will present many ways, big and small, that we can give to others in need. We certainly hope that you will jump in where you can! At the same time, maybe we can all take on the challenge this year to let the spirit of generosity infiltrate all aspects of who we are!