by Bill Scholl
In “The City of God,” St. Augustine spoke of taking the best of pagan culture and applying it to Christian life, like the gold that Moses took from the Egyptians was transformed into the Ark of the Covenant.
One piece of secular gold I would propose to transform your faith life is the “lifehack.”
The original “hack” was any shortcut to a computer programming problem, hence the term “hacker.” Hackers started applying the term to their everyday lives, calling them “lifehacks,” which are practices that increase productivity in a creative way. As disciples of Christ, we can apply this concept to our practice of God’s love as charity. Hence, here are a few charity hacks to try in your practice of Christianity.
Sock it to homelessness
We’ve all had that minor conscience crisis driving past a homeless man asking for help. We don’t want to be like the rich man, ignoring Lazarus only to discover in hell that he was passing by Christ himself. However, we fear giving money could enable the man to drink or drug his problems away. There is a way to avoid this pitfall. Give him socks. These guys do a lot of walking, and socks wear out quickly, especially in the winter. So buy a big pack of thick tube socks and keep them in the car.
By law, the medicine in name brands has to be exactly the same stuff in the generic, which often sells at half the price. So when you buy medicine, buy two of the generic brand and give one to a health clinic that serves the poor. Duchesne Clinic and St. Vincent are always in need of over-the-counter medicine to give their patients. So find a clinic and stop by with your donation after you go to the drugstore.
Don’t leave your clothes hanging
Take all your clothes that you have hanging and turn the hangers with the hook end facing you. When you wear a garment hang it back as you would normally. Schedule or pick a holiday that’s three months away to check your closet. Any clothes where the hook end hasn’t been turned are clothes you don’t wear. Give them to a charity like Catholic Charities TurnStyles.
The practice of charity is not optional for Catholics. Reading Scripture and receiving the sacraments alone aren’t enough to get you into heaven. If study and prayer don’t translate into concrete acts of love, especially with an eye to helping the poor in your everyday practice, your faith life is stunted. So try adding some charity hacks — and you may hack your way into heaven.
What are your charity hacks? Email them to me at: socialjustice@archkck, and I’ll pass them on.