Want to Donate This Lent (or Ever) but Don’t Know How or Where? Enter: MISSIO

As Catholics, we are called to give alms, especially during Lent. Some people don’t have the time or ability to donate their time, services, or blood and would rather donate money to worthy causes. I just became aware of good resource to go to where one can pick and choose authentic Catholic causes to donate to where 100% of the donation goes to the specific cause.

It is well with the man who is gracious and lends; He will maintain his cause in judgment. For he will never be shaken; The righteous will be remembered forever. He will not fear evil tidings; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD.
-Ps 112:5-9

Thanks to a post on Catholic Memes, I became aware for the first time of MISSIO which is a list of various Catholic missions around the world as chosen by the Pontifical Mission Societies under the pope. There are opportunities for your money to go to farm animals for families, clean water for children, new classrooms, building of parishes for new Catholic communities, Catholic pregnancy centers and much more. It makes donating so easy. Also, the site accepts donations in any amount so even if someone doesn’t have much to give,  they can easily give in proportion to their own situation.

Looking at this list, the goals of each mission are pretty low too. How fun would it be to be very rich and anonymously go to this site and just give money to each mission for each to complete its goal. I love stories where like someone goes to a toy store right before Christmas and pays for all the toys on hold to be picked up. If I was Bill Gates, that’s what I’d be doing regularly.

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A few of my faves are listed below–although there’s a TON to choose from and I didn’t even look at every single one! Along with it is the amount raised/fundraising goal.

It’s so exciting to know that a little money can go to so much good with the click of a mouse. How I pray that all these causes reach their goals. ☩

Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
-2 Cor. 9:6-7

Pope Francis and Confession

Pope Francis has been pictured again not only hearing confessions but making his own confession. His enthusiasm for the power and importance of the sacrament shouldn’t go unnoticed, especially by his…Jesuit-minded…groupies.

During the event and workshop for confessors, the Holy Father said:

In fact, the confessor is called daily to go to the “peripheries of evil and of sin” – this is an awful periphery! And his work represents a genuine pastoral priority. To hear confessions is a pastoral priority. Please, let there not be those notices: “Confessions are heard only on Mondays and Wednesdays from this hour to that hour.” You hear confessions every time they are requested. And if you are there [in the Confessional] praying, keep the Confessional open, which is God’s open heart.

Priests, stop being LAZY and sit in the confessional before, after, and DURING (if possible)…stop this 30-minutes-a-week nonsense. ☩

Lenten Reading: Finally Going to Read Augustine’s ‘Confessions’

After sitting on my shelf for two years, I have decided to finally crack open and finish Saint Augustine’s famous epic, Confessions. Augustine’s story of leaving his young life of hedonism and debauchery behind after making a monumental conversion to Christianity is a tale many people–especially millennials–find beckoning.

Learning about the scandalous and sinful early lives of saints offers hope. It proves that saints are not born saints and that we all have the ability to become saints no matter what one’s past is. It’s a hope that no one can take away no matter the situation.

The same curiosity leads many to read Thomas Merton’s Seven Storey Mountain which is another tale of a man preoccupied with finding one fleeting high after another before uncovering the truth in life, converting to Catholicism and becoming a Trappist monk.

Heaven is filled with converted sinners of all kinds, and there is room for more.
-St. Joseph Cafasso

If memory serves, Confessions is on the list of The 100 Greatest Books Ever Written, a secular list. The book is considered by both Christians and many non-Christians alike to be a masterpiece. Peter Kreeft calls Augustine a “saint of our times” because of how so many lost millennials are able to relate with his life as a teenager and young adult.

I was torn between three books to take up this Lent…all of which are already on the bookshelf: Confessions, CS Lewis’ Surprised by Joy, or St. Francis de Sales’ Introduction to the Devout LifeIn partial help due to respected recommendation of a priest friend of mine, I think Confessions will be a fine choice! I’m sure there’s more to come on this…maybe a TSP Cliffs Notes? ☩

There’s No Fat Tuesday Without Lent

Today is Fat Tuesday. It’s interesting how popular culture loves the Catholic holidays that relish in the indulgent aspects of life (whether rightly or wrongly): Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras), St. Valentine’s Day, Christmas, St. Patrick’s Day, etc. However, there’s no real celebration and fun without the healthy contrast of sacrifice and work.

Similar to Ven. Fulton Sheen’s oft-applied analogy that there cannot be an Easter Sunday without a Good Friday, there cannot be the proper disposition of celebration on Fat Tuesday without a meaningful and penitentiary Lenten season. We must hit the ground running when Lent starts tomorrow to make Fat Tuesday and Easter properly celebratory.

So let’s complete our Lenten checklists now:

  • Fasting
  • Prayer
  • Almsgiving
  • good examination and confession

It’s also a perfect season to pick up a spiritually challenging and enlightening book! Read, read, read. What are your plans for Lent?

Anyway, I hope everyone has a fun Fat Tuesday. Remember to eat at least one Pączki!

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Formal Dinner Offered to Milwaukee’s Homeless

Last Saturday, service organization North Star Providers put on a formal, three-course dinner for 100 homeless people from Milwaukee for Lent. It was hosted at Marquette University High School and students waited on the guests. The event included a great food, beverages and live music.

I came across the following photo in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s photo album of the event and was moved by it. It shows some homeless men bowing in prayer before to meal. Most of us pray before our meals as a formality, not truly feeling awe-struck and grateful for the blessings on our plate in front of us. This beautiful image of the afflicted being comforted helps move me to be humbled and be thankful for the comforts I enjoy.

The menu included | Image credit: Mark Hoffman

Often we (very much including me) are quick to dismiss the homeless because we can (or think we can) point to bad decisions that put them there, and we’re probably often right. But Jesus asks us to strive to look past our righteousness and serve those who are “least among us”. This doesn’t mean we should be played like a sucker by giving a beggar our cash outside of a liquor store saying he needs money for the bus–we know the drill when it comes to those folks–but it does mean we try to genuinely fight despair when we’re able to.

[Jesus said]: For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

-Matthew 25:35-40

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An organizer holds an attendant’s baby during dinner
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Marquette High School students served diners at the dinner

Images by Mark Hoffman