by Father Mark Goldasich
Talking about money in church is one of my least favorite things to do. That’s why I empathize with the pastor in the following story:
Once there was a pastor who was preoccupied and nervous about how he was going to ask the congregation to cough up more money. When he arrived at church, he was annoyed to find out that the regular organist was sick and a substitute had been brought in at the last minute.
The substitute wanted to know what songs to play. ”Here’s a copy of the service,” he said impatiently. “But you’ll have to think of something to play when I make an announcement about the finances.”
After Communion, the pastor said, “Dear brothers and sisters, we are in great difficulty. The roof repairs cost twice as much as we expected, and we need $4,000 more. So, I’m asking each of you to reflect upon your many blessings, to look deeply into your hearts and to respond with great generosity. Please, any of you who can pledge $100 or more, stand up.”
At that moment, the substitute organist began to play “The Star Spangled Banner.” And that’s how the substitute became the regular organist at that parish.
As we settle in to this month of October, the church asks each of us to stand up for life in all its stages and forms. Sometimes, though, like the congregation in the story above, we need a little push to take that stand.
That’s why I’m so grateful to the Knights of Columbus council at my parish. To help us parishioners — especially me — keep the issue of life literally before our eyes during this month, we’ve been asked to participate in BBB, which stands for Baby Bottle Boomerang. Last weekend after all of the Masses, the Knights passed out small plastic baby bottles.
The idea behind the bottles is simple: Put it where you’ll see it every day. Instead of milk or formula, however, this bottle is to be filled with something unique: spare change. At the end of Respect Life Month, we at Sacred Heart will “boomerang” those bottles back to the Knights, filled with money to be delivered to the Wyandotte Pregnancy Center in Kansas City, Kan., which assists women with unplanned pregnancies. It’s a practical, neat idea.
I got my bottle a little early last Saturday afternoon when I went to unlock the parish center for evening Mass. Just for fun, I went home and started to collect loose change around the house. On my bedroom floor sat a quarter and a couple of nickels that I’d been too lazy to pick up a couple of days earlier. Clink! They went into the bottle. My desk yielded more coins. There was a stray nickel on the stovetop for some reason. I even tipped up the recliner to peek underneath and found a quarter and nickel that must have fallen out of my pocket as I was relaxing. Clink, clink, clink — all the change was deposited into the bottle. My little 10-minute scavenger hunt produced $1.11. Not bad.
One lesson that I constantly have to remind myself of is that God doesn’t ask us to do everything. He asks us simply to do something, to do what we can. The pittance I collect in change this month is not going to stem all abortions in the country or even in Wyandotte County. But my donation will help at least a pregnant woman or two. And, multiplied by the donations of many others, great things can truly be accomplished.
As a way to celebrate Respect Life Month, consider saving your change. You don’t need a special baby bottle to collect it in, either. Use a bowl or a little bank to gather funds for a charity of your choice. I’ll bet you won’t be able to pass by that container without being tempted to put something in it.
Obviously, respecting life doesn’t only mean collecting money to donate, although those funds are a tremendous help. Be creative in finding ways to make life better for the people around you. Ideally, each day we should do something to bring respect and dignity into someone’s life.
Younger people who are computer savvy, for example, might share their expertise with senior members of the family or with the residents at assisted living facilities. Or when these beautiful leaves start to fall off the trees, raking them up for a neighbor, especially someone elderly or disabled, would be a blessing.
In this age of instant communication, there’s still great joy in getting a handwritten card or note in the mail. If your parish bulletin lists the names of parishioners who are ill, why not pop a card in the mail to one of them just to let them know that they’re in your thoughts? Better yet, consider calling on the phone or visiting as well.
Doing small acts of service for others can make this Respect Life Month truly something special. The church is depending on you. Will you stand up for life? Hey, is that “The Star Spangled Banner” I hear in the background?