Helping the poor - directly

I’m not sure if this is the correct sub-forum for this question and I won’t be able to speak to a priest at work I respect until Tuesday, but I did something today that I’m still trying to work through my heart hours later.

I gave a barefoot man my shoes today and walked away across the wet ground in my socks.

I was at 8-am Mass when I noticed a man in the back of the church. We have a pew against the back wall with a wide space before the rows of pews proper begin. He had long hair and a bear (rather Jesus looking) and less than pristine clothes; I wouldn’t go as far to say they were shabby. The most striking thing in his appearance was that he had bare, dirty feet. Mind you, today we are expecting a major winter storm. By all appearances he was a homeless man.

I looked back during the Kiss of Peace and no one in the back pews stepped out to offer him peace.

As I knelt and prayed during the Consecration, I could not help thinking about this man and his lack of shoes. What brought a homeless man with no shoes to a Catholic Church on the outskirts of the city? Our city has a large homeless population. Our state has only a couple of urban areas that can even offer any type of public assistance - my city being the state’s largest.

Was it the Holy Spirit working within me? I am sure of it. I could not sit at Mass and bear being there if I did not give that man my shoes, especially on the eve of a storm.

After communion, I prayed for courage and as I returned form receiving Our Lord, went to the man and sat next to him. I said hello and added, “There is a big storm coming and you don’t have any shoes.” “I think I have some somewhere,” he answered. So I gave him my suede hiking boots and he put them on. “Take them,” I said. “Peace of Christ.” “Hallelujah,” he answered.

I got up and left before the Benediction in my socks.

It was a very spiritually emotional experience for me. I figure Saints have done more and some Popes have done less. St. Martin of Tours gave a beggar half his cloak. I gave his barefoot man both my shoes.

Did I do the right thing? What was a barefoot man doing at (our) Church? What I a fool and taken advantage by this man? Do I dare think these thoughts? I truly believe the Holy Spirit gave me the courage to do something to live out my life in Christ by giving this man my shoes at Mass. I think where my faith is being put to the test is giving in to the fear that my action was a foolish one. That I was duped and taken advantage of. That people will think I was stupid.

It’s easy to give to Charity with a faceless check or dollar bill it was really hard to give up a personal item to help someone without. Difficult, but freeing.

I’m not sure if I’m looking for affirmation from this post. I’m not not sure if I’m looking for reasoning. I would like to ask if anyone had a similar experience and how your faith supported you.

Isn’t there a saying about being a fool for Christ?

It really doesn’t matter if he was a con man or as you saw him a homeless man who needed help. He may have been an angel who knows? God sees and knows our hearts and that is what is important. You did a good thing and more than I would have I am ashamed to say.:o

i dont know if this is really what u r looking for… but i have been going for feeding the homeless for a couple of months downtown… and it has been an incredible experience… simply becos you actually see the people that u r helping…

i do think that it was the Holy Spirit guiding you and i have given money to people standing on the street with signs… most people would say that they would use it for drugs… but i have only given it to people when something inside me said to do it… not all the time… i believe it was the Holy Spirit and I just let it go…thinking i gave to Jesus…

You were blessed and privileged to be given such an opportunity to practice charity. You ask what a barefoot man was doing at your Church … Keep in mind that today is Divine Mercy Sunday. Here is an excerpt from St. Faustina’s Diary:

I demand from you deeds of mercy which are to arise out of love for me. You are to show mercy to your neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to excuse yourself from it (Diary, 742).

God bless you! :slight_smile:

~~ the phoenix

What an honor you have had today. You have most surely
passed the test. Maybe next time you could give him your
socks too. Your sharing your story greatly helps people to keep it on their mind as what to do when they see someone with no shoes. I don’t think I would have thought of this idea on my own.
Your generous sharing of your story despite your feelings of
being thought insensible is yet another great gift you have
shared today. Many thanks and blessings to you!:angel1:


  • For being brave enough to respond to the Holy Spirit.
  • For being brave enough to consider this soul a person. As you saw, many others did not.
  • For being brave enough to be foolish.

May all of us have this opportunity!

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