December 1, 2006

Faith, Hope and Charity / David Siler

The season of sharing

As we enter the season of Advent in preparation for the celebration of Christmas, most of us will count numerous blessings for which to give thanks and shop for gifts to give our loved ones.

What each of us considers a blessing varies dramatically.

I remember my grandfather telling me that his Christmas morning was filled with joy when he would receive an orange and a new pair of socks under the Christmas tree. There would not be enough Kleenex in the world to mop up the tears at my house if this is what my children found waiting for them on Christmas morning!

Recently, I was dumbfounded to witness huge lines of people camped outside electronics stores to be the first to purchase the new Playstation 3. This brand new video game console costs $500 to $600, with each game adding an additional $60. These games are already featured on eBay for four to 10 times their original purchase price!

I began to reflect on the pure gluttony that has taken hold of many Americans. When many are willing to spend several hundred dollars on an entertainment device that adds nothing of value to society, I begin to worry about our priorities.

As the executive director of Catholic Charities, overseeing ministries serving the poorest of the poor, I can’t help but have these thoughts when so many we serve may truly only receive an orange and a new pair of socks.

I am not saying that video games are intrinsically evil or that entertainment is not a good thing. However, I would like to invite all of us to consider how we might share our blessings with those who have very few to count.

People experience poverty for a variety of reasons that are not self-inflicted: mental illness, physical handicaps, loss of a job, divorce, death of a spouse, poor educational opportunities, just to name a few. As Catholic Christians, we are called by God to share our blessings with our fellow brothers and sisters who have little. And this time of year affords us the perfect opportunity to give.

Catholic Charities seeks to ease the burden of poverty throughout the year; however, during this season of sharing, we reach out in additional ways.

Since the work of Catholic Charities is the work of the Church, and therefore all of our work, we invite you to consider how you might partner with us this holiday season to ensure that many others will experience the joys of Christmas.

Catholic Charities operates two Christmas Stores, one in Indianapolis and the other in Terre Haute, where families are able to shop (free of charge) for brand new clothes, household items and toys.

We also house homeless families at Holy Family Shelter in Indianapolis and at the Bethany House in Terre Haute.

Many families will spend their Christmas at a homeless shelter, and it will be up to us to ensure that they receive gifts this Christmas. These are just a few services that need your help.

To see a full list of ways that you can share your blessings with others this season, please visit our Web site at and look for the “Season of Sharing” section or call 317-236-1500 or 800-382-9836, ext. 1500.

(David Siler is executive director of the Secretariat for Catholic Charities and Family Ministries.) †

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