Charity and an attitude . . .

prodromos

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If you use cash in day to day life, I would recommend designating a certain denomination of cash as for the poor. So for example, anytime you are given a 5$ bill in change, it goes in the glove compartment. As long as there is money in the glove compartment you give without question. When the money is gone, you can be discriminating on whether you pull money out of your wallet. What I have found is that it has helped me to give more freely even in those instances where I have to make a choice to do so.

I would also remind you of the words of Hebrews 13:2 "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels." Showing hospitality, charity, and generosity is ultimately something that blesses us more than it blesses others. They get help, we get angels. There is a lady in my town who stands on the corner at a major store and holds a sign, not asking for money, but just saying that she is thankful. Before that she used to hold a framed picture of an angel (not an icon, but a western style depiction). I drove past her several times before I finally stopped one day. It turns out that she is Orthodox, that she knew who I was, that she knew the other priest in our parish. My first encounter with her reminded me of Saint Zosimas' conversation with Saint Mary where she knew about him without him knowing anything about her. I have been very blessed over the years by her. She stops by church sometimes and leaves gifts for me and my wife, she sends people to our parish, she uses money that she is given to make icon cards to give to people. I don't know whether she is a fool for Christ or a plain old ordinary fool, but it doesn't matter much to me because I am blessed to know her. I wish I could say that every person was like that, but I also don't think most people are a blessing to us until and unless we choose to bless them.

I would imagine that a lot of the $5 bills I have given to people end up being used to buy beer or weed, but I would imagine that when I buy a burger for myself at a fast food place the wages earned are often going toward the same things. Am I then wrong to buy myself a burger? Is it ok for them to buy drugs or alcohol because they earned it? We can be discerning when we see beggars, but we shouldn't avoid to show love and compassion to the poor just because the poor are sinners. In the parable of the Last Judgment, the goats on the left ask when they saw the Lord hungry, thirsty, etc. It's not because He wasn't there, it's just because they didn't see Him.
I used to give whatever change I had in my pocket to whoever asked. It's become tougher to do so as most transactions are cashless these days and I don't have change in my pocket
 
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Lukaris

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I guess we do the best we can in our circumstances. Obviously we have to do something and the Lord actually tells us to give alms before giving us His prayer ( Matthew 6). While I do some, I could do more.

Over the last 17 years or so, I have witnessed a few impoverished people helped & they were thankful. I have also seen a couple ( individuals) who were given much help & while obviously psychologically unbalanced, are also mean and dangerous. One individual gives the local welfare agencies much misery. We also had an elderly parishioner murdered by an individual who stayed in a homeless shelter ( I don’t blame the charity & I will not name it so as to avoid any misunderstandings).

I believe many of the guidelines we find in Ecclesiasticus ( Sirach) 11 & 12 The Book of Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) can still be helpful although we must keep Matthew 5:40-44 as our rule. Quite a challenge.
 
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ArmyMatt

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I used to give whatever change I had in my pocket to whoever asked. It's become tougher to do so as most transactions are cashless these days and I don't have change in my pocket

I have a stack of gift cards to local restaurants for those who ask.
 
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Mink61

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That is the thing which is most bothersome. I constantly am seeing signs looking for people to employ, yet I don't want to assume that all people begging can actually fill those positions. I've spoken with veterans begging at stop lights who are physically incapable of work because of military injuries or other issues. Yet at the same time, I see a lot of people who are obviously from the Middle East and appear to have come over here at the bidding of our government for the "free goodies" and then find out that this was not exactly the case, which turns them to begging.

The bottom line on giving is that unless I am clear that it is a scam, I will give to those who ask. What they actually do with it is between them and God. My problem is that I am asked so much that it is having an impact on my own economy. That's where my bad attitude comes in. I need to trust God more that He will take care of me in all circumstances.

Where I live there's help wanted signs everywhere offing something around $18 per hour. But most of the folks I encounter seem to be part of a bohemian street society who are obviously into drugs.
This brings to mind how often people will say, "Why don't they just get a job?"

First of all, a homeless person's day most often circulates around survival. That is, meeting their basic needs. Eating, sleeping, staying out of the elements of nature, finding a place to use the bathroom to urinate...or take a shower, finding a place to get water, or to wash your clothes...and doing this by carrying everything you own in the world either in a backpack or a suitcase.

Now, throw looking for a job into the mix...

A non-homeless person has the luxury of waking up in the morning, after a relatively comfortable sleep. Could be 100 degrees outside, yet you'll be indoors resting peacefully in a 70 degree home. Yet that homeless person is trying to get some sleep in the 100 temperature. He may be lucky if he gets 2 hours of sleep that night.

A non-homeless person wakes up in the morning, and probably uses the bathroom, first thing. A homeless person may have to wait in line before using the bathroom...if they're lucky enough to be staying at a shelter. If not, then they risk "public lewdness" for trying to "relieve themselves" behind a dumpster, or in the back of a building. And forget about trying to use the restroom at a fast-food place. Most of those places these days...are locked. You have to be a patron in order to use those facilities.

A non-homeless person can stroll downstairs and put on some coffee. Maybe have a selection of breakfast delights. If a homeless person wants to eat, they probably have to stand in line...for about an hour...at a certain time of day. Otherwise, they won't be eating until later on that day. And they have to eat whatever's in front of them.

After you're finished eating, may you jump in the shower. A homeless person often has to walk a certain distance, dragging their whole life with them, in 100 degree heat, 30 degree cold, or pouring rain, on certain days to get to a community shower.

Some libraries have public computers available...IF you have a library card. Of course, you need an address in order to get one. Even if you're fortunate to have one, you may have wait several hours to log on for an hour.

People who beg on the street aren't always begging for money for food. Sometimes they need money for transportation...or like I wrote earlier, for toilet paper...or to make copies, so they can print their resume...or for a couple of Advil, because they now have a whopping headache, because they couldn't sleep in the 100 degree heat from last night...

Statistically, most homeless people are homeless for about 4 months. Yes, some DO tend to make homelessness a 'way of life'. But the majority don't. And quite a number of them DO want to work.

They feel shame...embarrassment...humility...and sometimes, even hopeless. They've held up their signs, while hanging their heads...and have gotten spit on, mocked, ridiculed, had drinks--with ice--thrown in their faces, when they approach a stopped car, been 'flipped off', cursed at, yelled at, laughed at...been told they're "stupid" and "worthless"...they've been beaten up, raped and killed, simply because they were homeless.

And some of us think that homeless people are the one's who are "mentally ill"...
 
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Dorothea

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Years ago I thought all homeless people were on drugs or alcoholics and were out to scam people out of money. I don't want to turn this into a political thing. It's just that's what I was taught when I was a hardcore conservative. I'm sure there are many conservatives that don't think like that! But it wasn't until I left the Republican Party because I had changed after having been closer to God then than I am now (unfortunately). I learned from Orthodox elders and those working in prison ministry that it's not about making presumptions. You just give because it's Christ in the person, in all people.

The way I have given is I get 1 gallon plastic zip lock bags and put in toiletries, a small water bottle, granola bar or some sort of snack, and hand them out to those by the side of the road. I separate the bags out - a couple for females and a couple for the males. I used up all of mine a few months ago. They appreciated my gesture.
 
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LaSorcia

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I love handing out $100 bills and an icon to beggars on the street. Honestly, they are more grateful and friendly than any other EO Christian that I've met. And I don't get any glory since I drive away right after. The EO Christians I've met since I've converted are self-satisfied, self-righteous and clique-ish. I thought I'd find a little more love here than anywhere else, but I was wrong. From now on, I'll just hand out the $100 without the icons, because I don't want them to go to an EO church and find what I did.
Peace out, bye, love from an apostate.
 
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ArmyMatt

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I love handing out $100 bills and an icon to beggars on the street. Honestly, they are more grateful and friendly than any other EO Christian that I've met. And I don't get any glory since I drive away right after. The EO Christians I've met since I've converted are self-satisfied, self-righteous and clique-ish. I thought I'd find a little more love here than anywhere else, but I was wrong. From now on, I'll just hand out the $100 without the icons, because I don't want them to go to an EO church and find what I did.
Peace out, bye, love from an apostate.

sorry, but what?
 
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Lukaris

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I love handing out $100 bills and an icon to beggars on the street. Honestly, they are more grateful and friendly than any other EO Christian that I've met. And I don't get any glory since I drive away right after. The EO Christians I've met since I've converted are self-satisfied, self-righteous and clique-ish. I thought I'd find a little more love here than anywhere else, but I was wrong. From now on, I'll just hand out the $100 without the icons, because I don't want them to go to an EO church and find what I did.
Peace out, bye, love from an apostate.

Too bad you have had a negative experience as you say. I have seen elderly Orthodox people who expended much energy trying to help a couple downtrodden ( but otherwise able bodied) individuals who showed little gratitude & even hostile ingratitude. There is no one size fits all for anything.
 
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LaSorcia

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Too bad you have had a negative experience as you say. I have seen elderly Orthodox people who expended much energy trying to help a couple downtrodden ( but otherwise able bodied) individuals who showed little gratitude & even hostile ingratitude. There is no one size fits all for anything.
I have a great time helping homeless people. It's in the EO church that I don't find much love.
 
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ArmyMatt

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I have a great time helping homeless people. It's in the EO church that I don't find much love.

I am sorry to hear that, have you checked out any other parishes? I say this because my experience for the most part has been the opposite.
 
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Lukaris

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I have a great time helping homeless people. It's in the EO church that I don't find much love.

I am sorry you found a wrong community that let you down. Some parishes are exemplary and some are not. The fact the outside of traditionally Orthodox nations, the Church is thinly spread and an inhospitable community creates a bad impression. Another person will find a Christ like community elsewhere. You may have no options for anything better than what you experienced and that is unfortunate.
 
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ArmyMatt

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Too bad you have had a negative experience as you say. I have seen elderly Orthodox people who expended much energy trying to help a couple downtrodden ( but otherwise able bodied) individuals who showed little gratitude & even hostile ingratitude. There is no one size fits all for anything.

the parish that received me had an active ministry that helped prisoners gain working skills when they get out.
 
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rusmeister

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If you go to church counting on the people to actually be Christ-like, you are very likely to be disappointed. Most people are kind and generous when it is easy for them to be so. Most people accept Christ’s teachings and imitate Him when it costs little to nothing to do so. No matter where you go, you are not going to find a club of true saints, only people, some of whom try to be like Christ, often failing miserably.
 
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ArmyMatt

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No matter where you go, you are not going to find a club of true saints, only people, some of whom try to be like Christ, often failing miserably.

and if you read the lives of the saints, many fall into the latter category.
 
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Andrew.H

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I am dismayed to find myself having a poor attitude toward those who beg at street corners. What was once hardly known in our country has now become quite pervasive. I have had as many as four different people at four different stop lights wave their sign at me, begging for money.

Here's where it gets interesting. I do stop and talk with these people. There are some cases that are truly needy, and I don't mind giving to them a little help. But a lot of these folks are from somewhere outside this country, don't speak English, and at least one admitted to me in a moment of raw honesty, that she was in the country illegally.

In addition, I have helped people only to find out later that they scammed me and were not what they said they were.

All of this has created in me an attitude that when I see someone begging at a stop light, I think "Oh, Lord, not again!" and have a strong desire to drive through the light, rather than stop and turn, so that I can avoid them altogether.

I am ashamed to feel this way about the poor. I feel convicted that I am placing money over people.

Does anyone else struggle with these feelings and what advice (other than prayer and Confession) would you give me?

I actually was taught as a child, by my father, that the majority of homeless people you see are just scammers. He's not a bad person but he is a bit jaded about people abusing charity.

To me, I would never feel right if I walked away. Even if it's 1 in 100 that are honestly in need, I'd still beat myself up for not giving something. Money, my lunch, spare change or half eaten snacks. I'll take those odds for such small things. At least I know 100% of what I give goes to who I give it to anyway.
 
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All4Christ

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@LaSorcia Im so sorry to hear that you had that experience. I do recommend looking for another Orthodox parish that is loving and cares for others. Mine certainly is a loving community that is my family.

Regarding the OP, I have a harder time now that I rarely have cash. Sometimes, such as when I lived downtown, I’d offer to go to the nearest walking-distance food store to get them something, such as the Subway, coffee shop, drug store, etc. we also have a little structure / booth downtime where we can donate goods for the needy to take whatever essentials are needed. The hardest times I have are areas that do not seem safe to stop. I try (though am not perfect by a long shot) to make up for it some other way, maybe by adding to the booth I mentioned or by giving / volunteering at a shelter nearby
 
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Light of the East

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I actually was taught as a child, by my father, that the majority of homeless people you see are just scammers. He's not a bad person but he is a bit jaded about people abusing charity.

To me, I would never feel right if I walked away. Even if it's 1 in 100 that are honestly in need, I'd still beat myself up for not giving something. Money, my lunch, spare change or half eaten snacks. I'll take those odds for such small things. At least I know 100% of what I give goes to who I give it to anyway.

Well, having stopped at more than one stop light and talking with those asking for alms, I have found that a lot of them are people who, through no fault of their own, have been run over by life and our wonderful government will not help them. I'm thinking in particular of a Navy veteran, Tony, who used to beg in Baltimore where I went often on business. The VA kept running this poor guy around in circles. Sadly, one day a car came hurtling down the hill where he begged at the bottom and killed him instantly.

Then there are the mentally ill. Thanks to the Reagan Administration closing up the mental health facilities, like the mental health hospital on Cameron Street in Harrisburg, those who are in desperate need of help are out on the streets. And then, yes, there are those who could work but are just juking the system.

It's not all that cut and dried.
 
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