Friday, April 17, 2009 it is HIM!

First it was Pope Benedict XVI following me to begin Lent.

Now, at the end of Lent, HE is following me...

"Jesus Christ (jesus_says) is now following your updates on Twitter."

I guess I need more supervision than I thought.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Really Good Friday

The math is against me.

I'm 47, and my wife is not much further behind.  We have 8 kids, and through breastfeeding, they have all been roughly spaced about 3 years apart.  No charts, graphs or really other considerations.  Just God's little joke/plan.

Good times and bad, richer and poorer, health and sickness--and always the kids.  

Our oldest is 26, our youngest will be 3 this summer.  The oldest ones have married fine people.

Our first grandchild turned 3 on Easter.  Our youngest grandchild, and fifth, is due in the fall.

Time is slipping by, and accelerating.  We keep trying to face the reality of our family finally aging with us, and not being continually renewed every third year.

Kids keep you young, but let's face it:  At 47 my left knee, my eyesight and my stamina aren't what they used to be.  Naps sound better than ever.  

It has probably been hardest on my wife.  After all these years, her life is changing dramatically.  She began to take classes at the community college to resume a quarter-century dormant urge.

Until Good Friday became Great Friday and the test came up positive.

The ninth time around you would think we'd know the signs.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Tithe is Money

An incredible Super(Catholic)Blog recently covered a plan to tithe and how to boost your support for the Church.  It was a brilliant move on their part and shows real editorial insight.

One commenter, Ashley, asked a question about other forms of stewardship--time and talent.  (Under "About Me" on her blog is a picture of St. Elisabeth of Portugal.  On the off chance that "Ashley" is a pseudonym for St. Elisabeth, I'm going to treat her question with haste and great respect.)

Personally, I love the idea of tithing your time and talent as well as your treasure.  

Often we give money to causes that we want to support, but otherwise we don't have a great connection to it.  We use those extra envelopes at church to put a few dollars in for causes we may not even understand.  We get one every year for "Black and Indian missions" but I honestly have no idea how that money is used or even where it really goes.

Then there are the myriad of requests that come through the mail--cancer research, homes for the poor, prison outreach, convents and missions, colleges, police benefits, and more.  My email is also home to those requests--every time the Red Cross has an emergency, or the environment (per the environmental folks) is under attack, my email inbox lights up.

But there is a limit for most of us to how many good causes we can support financially.  And it is quick, without a lot of thought required.  An hour a month maybe, if you write the checks and envelopes by hand?

That's where the old phrase, "Time is money", comes into play.
Is it possible to give 10% of your time?  Treat sleep like we do taxes for financial tithing--subtract it out.  (I spend approximately 30 nights a year camping with the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, so maybe I can count sleep!)

Post-sleep (at 8 hours per night) we have 584 hours per year (10% of your waking hours).

I read in a Knights of Columbus article a couple of years ago that the average adult volunteers 42% less than their parents and grandparents did.  That's a lot of time taken away from the betterment of our fellow man.

So, how could you use this time?  584 hours breaks down to 11.25 hours a week.  Out of 168 hours a week, assuming you are well rested, 112 are left.  Subtract 60 hours for work, and we have 52 left.

Now, here is where I cut you a break.

I only want 10% of the 52 hours.  You can even round down.  Call it 5.

How can 5 hours a week help?  Find something you love.  It could be at church or in your community.  Even make up your own project like mowing the yard of the elderly couple next door.  Give blood.  Help a pregnancy center.  Do the low-level grunt work no one else has time for like filing and data entry.  Make dinner for a family in need, or with a new baby, or a recent death.  These are not hard ideas to find.  Any anyone can do it.

The Boy Scouts of America is my passion for service. It is a great example of how something can start small and grow.  I probably spend 10 hours a week now with our parish's Cub Scout pack and Boy Scout troop.  Then there are the campouts and summer camps.  Popcorn fundraising in the fall. Council committees and more.  

I love it. It brings me great feelings of accomplishment that I don't get from my work.  I get to watch--help--young boys grow into men.  

The lasting effect on me is much greater for getting my own hands dirty than just passing along money.

5 hours a week can change the face of your parish, your town and, maybe most importantly, your life.  If you aren't spending 5 hours a week helping others (your immediate family doesn't count), think about stepping up and pitching in.  Ask your priest for ideas, or let him know you are available.  

Think about it:  5 hours of donated plumbing time; 5 hours of Knights of Columbus work; 5 hours of reading aloud to kids at the library; 5 hours of delivering meals; 5 hours of filing at the local animal shelter; 5 hours of sorting clothes at the pregnancy center; 5 hours of making phone calls to help raise money for a new library; or maybe 5 hours of prayer for the rest of us doing the physical work of volunteering.  (Honestly, I'd love to know that someone was praying for 5 hours to support my efforts.)

Please.  We need the help.