December 3, 2010

Faith, Hope and Charity / David Siler

‘In the giving, we receive’

David SilerIt is such a gift that once a year we all pause and set aside an entire day to give thanks to God for our many blessings.

Of course, God, the Creator of the universe, does not need our thanks. Rather, we need the opportunity to express our gratitude, which opens the doors to our hearts and allows us to feel and see that we are deeply loved and cared for. Giving thanks doesn’t change God, but it changes us.

After my trip to Africa in September, I count things among my blessings that I previously took for granted—abundant clean water, a hot shower, smooth roads (well, at least most of them!), a comfortable bed, and—oh, how could I forget—house walls not made from cow dung!

Of course, we don’t need to wait for Thanksgiving to count our blessings. There are some people who have come to experience the joy of giving thanks so much that they do it every day. Some people go even a step further and record their daily blessings in what they call a “gratitude journal.”

We all know people, or you may be one of those people, who always have something to complain about. I fear that this attitude may be taking hold in epidemic proportions.

These days we are surrounded by different forms of media that bombard us with bad news—all the while, there is far more good news that rarely makes the headlines. With some media outlets promoting a culture of doom and gloom, it requires us to be much more intentional about seeing and highlighting the good.

As a licensed mental health counselor, I am very aware of the nearly epidemic rise in the diagnosis of depression. I often prescribe a daily ritual of the counting of blessings for the treatment of depression.

Another prescription that I have found to be even more effective, when taken, is to do something good for someone else. I can think of no better way to express gratitude than to give of ourselves to another person. Here, the spiritual law of “in the giving, we receive” truly comes to life.

No matter our age, financial situation or physical capability, we all have something to give that is worthwhile to our neighbors. Our current generation of people entering retirement affords a perfect opportunity to give back. There are many people blessed enough to retire early, leaving them a great deal of time to give of themselves.

I am currently seeking retired individuals who want to put their talents to work for a worthwhile cause in the role of what I am calling “social ministry ambassadors.” These people would be folks who will be charged with representing Catholic Charities, Catholic Relief Services and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development throughout regional areas of our archdiocese. With extremely limited resources, we have limited opportunities to connect with parishes and other Churches and organizations that are not aware of or engaged in the charitable works of the Church.

In addition to this role, there are always many other ways to get involved in our ministries.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can put your gifts to work in our archdiocese, send me an e-mail at

(David Siler is executive director of the Secretariat for Catholic Charities and Family Ministries. E-mail him at

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