RECOGNISING TRUE RICHES
Since the launch of the GIFT campaign, Catholic Foundation has received many heart-warming responses. Lionel, a member of one of OYP’s young adult communities, shares how being a regular giver to the Church despite being a young person still early in his career, has helped him realise his true richness as a child of God.
Youths and young adults during a time of worship at the Catholic Youth Day organised by the Office for Young People in 2016. Photo: Office for Young People.
I am unsure if this happens with everyone who first embarks onto life as a young working adult. But when I first started working six years ago, it always felt as if I never had enough money.
Every month, I looked at my bank statement, and would be fraught with disappointment. To null my worries, I would spend much time dreaming about how I can be rich someday.
My perceived financial scarcity had led to some interesting behaviours, and affected the way I understood the act of almsgiving to the Church. When I attended Mass, I would usually pick out the smallest note in my wallet to give during offertory, hastily crumpling it up in my fist so that no one would notice.
I only contributed larger amounts on certain occasions when I was feeling particularly generous. Then, I would pat myself on the back and tell myself that I was “done” with charity for the year. After all, I told myself, money was already scarce enough. I was giving during Mass and giving to special fundraisers in my parish. What more did God want?
But things did not seem right. I could not shake the nagging feeling that giving to the Church based on how I felt, when it was convenient for me, is not what I was called to do as a Catholic. Everything I had read in the Bible suggested otherwise. As Matthew 16:24 states, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”
In 2015, I learned on Facebook that a friend had passed away. He was a rich, successful banker who died at the tender age of 25.
Young people like me often forget that we will not live forever. It took the sudden death of a young friend to shake me out of my stupor and remind me that I, too, will one day leave this place—and all my worries about money would have been useless.
The Bible teaches that none of what we have, our money, possessions, intelligence, skills, and so on, are ever truly “ours”. Instead, as described in Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” We are merely stewards of our gifts, and we are called to use them responsibly.
Was I hoarding my money selfishly, like a child refusing to share his Christmas toys? When God calls me to give an account of how I had used my “gifts”, is He going to be interested in my clever savings strategy? Or would He instead ask, “Lionel, how have you used your gifts to build My kingdom?” What would my answer be?
I was shaken to shift the way I think. Rather than focusing on myself, I wanted to use my money in a way that truly benefitted God’s Church.
To build the Church of tomorrow
Just a year later, I picked up a brochure detailing the various organisations and projects supported by the Giving in Faith & Thankfulness (GIFT) initiative. It had also laid out the governance structure of how the funds of the archdiocese were handled.
I did not need much convincing. All my life, the Church had always been there for me. I received my education in a Catholic school, I found a spiritual family in my community, and in my darkest moments, a priest had guided me back to Jesus. I wanted others to be able to share in the joy and faith as well.
Instead of contributing based on how I was feeling, I wanted a more deliberate strategy. The one proposed by the brochure, a regular contribution, would essentially help me to say, “Lord, I commit to offering you the first-fruits of my labour. Please help me remember that everything I have comes from You.”
So I adjusted my budget to allow for what I could afford to be transferred to the Church via GIRO every month. It is not a huge amount, but it is a start. I pray that the Lord will slowly, but surely, imbue the spirit of generosity in me, like the widow who gave all that she had (Mk 12:41-44).
Ironically, taking this step has helped me to realise that all that striving to inflate my bank account had done nothing but made me feel poor. It was only when I started giving that I truly experienced richness.
I am not perfect, but we are all on a journey together. I hope that by sharing this, God may move more hearts to contribute to our Church regularly through monthly contributions. I pray that when the day comes for us to give an account to the Lord about how we have used His gifts, we will hear the wonderful words described in Matthew 25:21:
“Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”
The Giving in Faith and Thankfulness (GIFT) Campaign is a rallying call for all Catholics to contribute regularly to the Archdiocese of Singapore. Any contribution, no matter the size, will provide much needed resources for organisations in the archdiocese to continue transforming lives, and for the physical structures of the Church to be built up for tomorrow’s generation.
Visit gift.catholicfoundation.sg to give today.