Having been Blessed with the opportunity to wander through parts of Europe,
Presently In Rome,while exploring the amazing Vatican ,
I can’t help but feel much pity for the beggars I see on the street, holding a small container begging for some spare loose change, I wonder what brought them to there fate,
How they could be helped, I saw a woman with a photo of her children,
Another at a suburban rail station holding a child,with obvious issues ,
Then watching a woman I had seen earlier having a cigarette laughing with acquaintances…
I would love to talk with them, just for a short overview of there lives ,
But, unfortunately ,I’m not in a position to help financially ,but only in pray,
It has always bothered me when I see beggars. I want to help them, and then I think back to the times that I have helped someone and I recall how I felt as if I were kicked in the gut.
I know in my area there is this one man who stands outside the local grocery store parking lot with a sign that reads “Out of work… need money… please help. God Bless”. The local TV news did a story on him and their undercover camera’s caught him being picked up in a very nice SUV and taken back to a very nice home. When they questioned him about it he got all belligerent and said that he was not lying with his sign as at that moment in time, he was not at his job, so he was technically out of work. It really bothers me because now I judge others when I see that they need help and I question if I should even help them. Sometimes I will pray for them, but if they truly need help (food, etc), I don’t feel that is helping them much.
To be sure its a dilemma. I err to the side of Christ, and give what I can, and dismiss thoughts that I might be being played…even if I am, and I give, it shows I am following the precepts of Christ, and the guy playing me has to deal with the justice of God.
I also try to give and not judge. I will be in Rome again on Monday, we are lucky to be able to visit easily as we are in Italy for months at a time and are only a few hours away. I can completely understand why people in grave difficulties may hope for help so near to the Vatican.
Dear Lord please hear our prayers for all who are desperate and homeless Amen
Eternal God , in whom mercy is endless,
and the treasury of compassion inexhastible ,
look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us ,
that in difficult moments we might not despair
nor become despondent , but with great confidence ,
submit ourselves to Your Holy Will ,
which is love and mercy itself . Amen
Memorare (Prayer to Our Lady)
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession, was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto you, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother. To you do I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in your mercy, hear and answer me. Amen
It is a conundrum, isn’t it. I was approached by a young girl in the parking lot a few months ago who had a story that her parents were disabled and their monthly allotment check was a week away. She needed money for groceries. I could tell immediately she was high on something and slightly aggressive in her manner, so I suggested she go two blocks up the street to the Catholic Church where they were equipped to handle emergencies such as hers. And then there was the expose of an organized band of beggars…those usually on the major intersections with a sign and a new $100 backpack on the ground with bottled water and snacks inside.
I usually try to discern each situation as it comes. We’re all aware that donations can help fund drug and alcohol habits. And then there was the time my husband and I were on vacation and he spotted a man, obviously in distress, looking through the window of a restaurant. My husband crossed the street and held out his hand to him, slipping a $20 bill in his palm and quickly walked away.
We have beggars at the noon Mass outside our Cathedral downtown. The pastor has requested we do not give them any money, but send them to him so he can properly handle the situation.
I don’t know anything about the beggars in Rome. However, we are called to prudence, and the majority of our local homeless suffer from substance abuse and addictions. Providing funds for what you hope will be used by them for basic needs may be at best naive and at worst, frankly selfish. Are you giving to them to “help” them or just because it makes YOU feel better. You may, and probably are, contributing to their addiction.
I carry McDonalds gift certificates and bus passes. I engage them in conversation. If they are hungry, I offer to take them to a place to buy a meal, direct them to our local soup kitchen, or offer a gift certificate. Often they say they just need money for the bus, so Wahlah, I offer a bus pass. Sometimes they accept, ususally they refuse.
I happen to work downtown, and the local Catholic Church has a soup kitchen nearby and Catholic Charities has a free medical clinic nearby. Whenever possible, I offer to walk them there.
I don’t give money to the homeless. Our Churches in the downtown area specifically request that we do not, as does the soup kitchen.
SMOM you really don’t know, in essence, the homeless and beggars.It is you that does it for yourself and not totally for the beggars. You stated you carry McDonald gift certificates and bus passes around with you to hand out. What if they don’t like McDonalds or are not hungry at that time? What rules do you ask of them when you hand them out bus passes?
We should give but first we need to know what they want and need and not give them what WE feel they need. It’s a very selfish approach but not as bad as those who would rather criticize and do nothing for them. This group is despicable. It is never our $$ for it is God who has given it to us through HIS generosity. And we should give it without any restrictions and reservations. Can we ever out do God’s generosity? If the beggar needs money and uses it for something else like booze then so be it. If it makes his potentially miserable life just a bit better than so be it. If it brings him/her joy for one more day so be it! Now if they up front say their buying booze or drugs with it then we should hold back and then offer something else as in food or shelter. May God watch over the homeless and beggars and fill everyone else with more compassion and love.
There were times when I helped a couple of homeless people. I sat down and talked to them a little bit. I was l living in a larger city back then, that had a larger homeless population in their downtown area.
These people were clearly homeless, and in my opinion, weren’t running any kind of scam. In one situation, one of the homeless people that I helped, ended up being written about in the newspaper a few weeks later. Her story captured the attention of a reporter. This all happened years ago.
I didn’t help them to gain any personal attention or to be “selfish” in any way. I felt moved or “inspired” to help them, back at the time.
Most aren’t running and wouldn’t think of running any scams. I pray sorrowfully for those that criticize the poor in that way. If a homeless is smiling and laughing, as one person puts it then let’s give thanks to God. If a homeless is picked up in a nice truck and driven to his/her next destinations then let’s be joyful and glad for those offering them charity and relief.
Those who find themselves criticizing the poor have hearts filled with wickedness.
Wlit, with all due respect, you are naive. I DO know the homeless. I spend time with them throught the St. Vincent De Paul Society. Many are homeless for reasons that each of us could easily experience ourselves, but many are not. A large number have substance abuse issues and that is the root of their problem. To say that “If the beggar needs money and uses it for something else like booze then so be it. If it makes his potentially miserable life just a bit better than so be it” is irresponsible and contributes to the harm, rather than help them. I carry McDonalds gift certificates to give to those who say they are hungry. “What if they don’t like McDonalds?” SERIOUSLY? If they are homeless/hungry/poor etc. I am quite sure that they can find something on the McDonalds menu to sate their hunger. As they say, “beggars can’t be choosers.” The reality is that many of them aren’t hungry, or if they are, it is not their priority. Rather they are looking to just scrap enough together to get their next “fix”. That is why the very organizations that are committed to helping them, discourage people from giving them money. It is not charity, it is assisted suicide, it is murder.
I carry bus passes for those who say they need bus fare. I don’t ask them any questions. I just offer the pass. Like I said, usually they refuse. I make no judgement about what they need. If they say they need food, I offer. If they say they need bus fare, I offer. If they say they are sick, I offer to take them to the free clinic. I seldom end up giving the food, the bus passes or walking with anyone to the clinic. It isn’t what they actually want.
It is neither “compassionate” nor “loving” to assist another to sin, or to lead them on a self destructive path.
Ask, you’ll find that many people welcome an ear with which to share their story.
The assistance you can potentially provide isn’t limited to financial. Even donating old items to shelters may help some. But if you aren’t in a position to help don’t let that stop you from talking. Sometimes people appreciate a connection being made.
I do appreciate the hours you have put in with St. Vincent De Paul. I too have worked alongside them plus many other parish groups as well that have served the poor and hungry. Joining a parish group doesn’t make one automatically more compassionate just in joining them. I have found some cold, callous parishioners in charge of many jobs requiring compassion and sensitivity.
About assisting them with sin, Our Lord during the feast of Cana produced wine for all to drink. He didn’t marginalize and say but you…Larry are a drunk so this wine is not for you. You Marge can’t handle drinks so you won’t be having any of my wine today. All drank during this occasion and were glad.