Cared for in Ways Unknown
Since the launch of the GIFT campaign, Catholic Foundation has received many heart-warming responses. Mark Chua, a father of two, shares why he has decided to give back to the Church for the ways his life has been unknowingly touched.
The recent Lenten season of prayer, fasting and alms giving had been a special one for me this year. Today, even as we delve deeper into Eastertide, I would like to share my own experience of alms giving.
Taking a broader view, giving need not be purely monetary, but one can also give time and effort, not only for the poor but also to support other worthy causes. When I was younger, I used to give of my time by singing with the choir at the Church of the Holy Family. Unfortunately I stopped when family life beckoned.
My wife and I were blessed with the arrival of two beautiful children, and then life became, really, very busy! With not much time to give anymore, I started to think about giving more in terms of monetary contributions. Perhaps in different seasons, God raises us and gives us the capacity to serve and give in different ways.
Things took on an added urgency when we were handed the booklet for the Giving in Faith and Thankfulness (GIFT) Programme last November. I signed up at once to make a monthly contribution.
Looking back, how do I feel about that decision? It was painful at first, but by now I had almost forgotten about it because I had gotten used to it.
It was almost like giving up ice cream during Lent. I realise that there were things I thought I needed more money for, but were really just creature comforts that were not necessary for my life.
My experience helped me understand a little better what wise men have been trying to tell us when they say, “Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants” (Greek Philosopher Epictetus), or, “It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor” (Roman Philosopher Seneca).
These are, of course, easy to say but difficult to appreciate, especially when living in Singapore puts us face to face with many financial pressures. But the Church is no different in having to face these same challenges.
Going to the Catholic Foundation website and reading the GIFT booklet, I learned what our archdiocese is doing and how much each initiative costs. Graces in our lives that we had taken for granted were actually carefully arranged and funded.
For example, when my wife and I got married, we attended the Marriage Preparation Course which I suppose falls under the Archdiocesan Commission for the Family (ACF), an organisation supported by the archdiocese’s funds.
Our kids went to Catholic Kindergartens and Primary Schools, both of which benefit from the work of the Archdiocesan Commission for Catholic Schools (ACCS), which also receives funding from the archdiocese. Even catechism for my kids falls under the Office for Catechesis, another organisation under its umbrella.
Most likely, I have neglected to mention some groups whose work touches our lives in ways we cannot see. Like little sheep, sometimes we cannot fully understand how the Shepherd is taking care of us.
The Catholic Foundation has done a lot of work to communicate the archdiocese’s current and future needs, and has even made it much easier for us to contribute.
But when presented with an opportunity to give, many times we decline because we feel that our contributions are too small to matter, or that we should leave it for our brethren who are better endowed than us.
However, I believe God can and does multiply our small gifts beyond our imagination. Just like the parable of the five loaves and two fish, the breadbasket of a young boy was offered up and multiplied into an abundance enough to feed a huge crowd of five thousand, with twelve baskets left over.
Just as the Bible says: “For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have” (2 Corinthians 12).
Let us pray that the Lord will continue to bless us so that we may, in turn, bless those whom we meet in our lives.