Monday, June 26, 2017

A Warning

     The charitable impulse can easily be transformed into a fury that sets heads to rolling.

     My parish – St. Louis de Montfort in Sound Beach, NY – maintains, as so many Catholic parishes do, an Outreach pantry, intended to assist the needy with free food and other consumables while (hopefully) they struggle back to a condition of self-sustenance. My fellow parishioners are generous souls; the pantry shelves are virtually always kept full, even though an average of 150 families partake of the bounty each week.

     Sounds good, right? Christian charity in action, just as the Redeemer prescribed. Well, once in a great while things are not so good.

     Four weeks ago, the parish bulletin listed one of the pantry’s needs as “pork & beans.” Actually, the listing was PORK & BEANS, that we parishioners might grasp the intensity of the need. Accordingly, the next time I was near a supermarket I purchased half a dozen 1 lb. cans of pork & beans, a few other items listed as Outreach needs, brought them to the pantry, and thought no more about it.

     The next Sunday, PORK & BEANS appeared once more as the pantry’s principal need. So the next time I went grocery shopping, I purchased a dozen 1 lb. cans of pork & beans, a couple of other items on the bulletin’s Outreach list, brought them to the pantry, and thought no more about it.

     Sunday June the 18th: the Outreach pantry still listed PORK & BEANS as its principal need. I was beginning to grow a bit concerned. So I made a special trip to the supermarket and bought 24 1 lb. cans of pork & beans. (I’m sure you can see the pattern developing.) I brought them to the pantry and told the supervisor that “if I see pork & beans in next Sunday’s bulletin, I’m going to be very cross. Tell whoever’s eating all the pork & beans to eat a vegetable now and then.” She assured me that it would not appear in the June 25th bulletin.

     That assurance was false.

     This morning at 9:30 AM EDT, I brought 48 1 lb. cans of pork & beans to the Outreach pantry. The expressions that greeted me ranged from poker-faced to stunned. I dropped the case – approximately 70 lb, gross – on the sorting table, fixed the Outreach supervisor with my best gimlet eye, and said, “Where’s all the pork & beans going?”

     The supervisor said, “There was a big barbecue.”

     It took me about a nanosecond to go from relative calm to incipient stroke.

     “The food donated to this pantry is supposed to be for the local needy,” I said. I put more effort into controlling my demeanor than I’ve ever put into anything except concealing my glee at having just been dealt a straight flush. It proved insufficient. “It is not supposed to be used to supply institutional functions!”

     The supervisor smiled sheepishly and shrugged. “Well, you know.”

     I departed swiftly, before I could burst a blood vessel.

     That supervisor doesn’t know what kind of agony she’s in for. I intend to spread the news of this all over the parish – with her name attached.

     Fellow Christians, are you sure your charitable donations are actually doing charity? Really sure? If you were to discover otherwise, how would you react?

     Beware the charitably inclined Christian who discovers that he’s been duped. Few creatures are more dangerous. St. Louis de Montfort is about to experience a demonstration.

1 comment:

Manu said...

Sir, in your shoes I would be livid. I'm not sure I would be able to resist a punch to the face, at the very least.

And at a higher level, this goes beyond the church. Government does likewise taxes us for acts of welfare (no longer properly called charity for it lacks will full donation), then spends the money on unrelated things as it sees fit.

Lying about charity is evil. It is one of the most insidious evils, too. It should not be permitted in God's house.