Looking for a book about serving the poor



I hope I don’t offend anyone, but here I go. I live in an area that has only one place that serves the poor. This place has limitations on who they will help, how they will help, and when they will help. Most of the people living in this area have children who qualify for the free lunch program at school.

Our local priest does not like to help the poor. In a sermon last week I got upset over something he said and missed the point of why he said it. He said that there is the great unchurched out there who come to his door looking for a handout. He said that most of the people are in the situation they are in through their own fault, yet they come to the Catholic Church with their hand out. He said that he thinks that they probably just go from church to church looking for handouts and not doing anything to improve their situation. He said that he invites them to come to the Catholic Church, but they never darken our doors. Or if they do they come once and never come back.

He has mentioned several times before in sermons that people come to the Catholic Church looking for a handout. He says some of them are traveling and probably hit every Catholic Church along their route until they get to their destination. He has also mentioned on several occasions that most people in need are in need because they make bad judgements.

I borrowed $75 from the church one time (I was desperate) and he acted very disgusted. He has brought it up on occasion, when I talk to him.

In my heart, I feel it is very unchristian to have an attitude like this toward the poor. I wondered if anyone might know of a book about working with the poor that isn’t too long. I am looking for something that might help him develop a more Christian attitude. I want to mail it to him. It can’t be too thick, because he may not have time to read it.


This may not be what you are looking for but it is free. gerrycharlottephelps.com/chapter_1_so_you_want_to_help_the_poor/

It validates some of your priest’s points so that might help him to be open to it.

It would be interesting to know what is behind the attitude. Does he have problems with people who are or with people who ask for money. Or people who ask for money and ask and ask and ask.

I work for an a social service type agency and some of the people that use our services are poor. Not all are helpless and down-on-their-luck. Many are savvy to the system and don’t bother asking but just take (steal) even if it means taking from someone in greater need. I wonder if your priest is wise to this type. It can, unfortunatly, harden a person’s heart.


I’m a little disturbed by the fact that this was said during a homily. The homily is not the place to prattle on about one’s personal opinion on a social problem.

I would suggest that you go to www.amazon.com and look up Mother Teresa. She has some very short writings on this topic.


JR :slight_smile:


I would recommend Fr. Thomas Dubay’s “Happy Are You Poor” for the very reason that not only does it go into great detail about how Jesus demanded a dispossessiveness of his followers, but how for any and all of us to follow this model set forth by Jesus that we must be willing to give to others even what we ourselves may be lacking! Fr. Dubay does not distinguish between the drug addicts or the disenfranchised: if a human being is in a state of poverty, it is our role as Christians to fulfill that person’s needs. (This can, of course, take on different forms.)


This is a very good book. Fr. Dubay’s approach is very much that of St. Francis, St. Vincent de Paul and Bl. Mother Teresa. You don’t look at the cause you look at the person of Christ. The missionary is not a social worker, he or she is a servant of the poor, regardless the cause.

It’s not meant to be practical. It’s meant to be holy. Holy is not always practical. Thank God.

JR :slight_smile:


I think the link above would just reinforce his feelings that poor are in need because they haven’t used their money wisely. I would really like him to get some empathy or something for the poor. I know that there are people who have the system all figured out and abuse it, but there are just as many who are poor through no fault of their own. The jobs here don’t pay much. I sometimes see factory jobs advertised at minimum wage with no benefits. These jobs are filled quickly. I’ve talked to people who have three children and both spouses are working full time, but they still qualify for food stamps. In this area, waitresses are payed $2 or $3 an hour. Many people don’t tip the waitress and the waitress usually has to turn in her tips, which are split with the hostess and the busboy. In some restaurants they take waitresses’ tips, put them in a jar, then they are divided evenly at the end of the shift.
There are many people who are disabled who only get around $650 a month to live on. There is no way they can sustain themselves on that amount of money, even if they get housing.

There are also people who are borderline mentally retarded, so they receive practically no assistance at all. There is great poverty among people who have I.Q.'s a few points above mental retardation. Some of these people have driver’s licenses.:eek: But they can’t reason things through. I was talking to one who had a driver’s license. She started driving out into an intersection even though it was obvious that the car approaching the intersection on her right was going to run the stop sign. She came within inches of being broadsided. I asked her why she did that. She said it was her turn. I tried to reason with her, telling her that the car came up so fast to the intersection that she could tell it wasn’t going to stop. She said it was her turn to go through the intersection. No matter what I said to her, she was not fazed. It was her turn to go through the intersection.:eek: She lives in poverty and begs from everyone, because she cannot keep a job. People say all types of mean things about her, but I think it is our Christian duty to look after people like her. Granted, the public in general may feel that she should take care of herself, but she has a stubborn personality and is not bright enough to understand she needs to change. I think God put people like this on the earth to help us learn to serve. Instead of demeaning people like this, I think they should be treated with compassion and patience.

This just a sore spot with me. It just makes me mad that poor people are treated like pests.


From what I read about this book on Amazon.com, it appears to be more a book about how we shouldn’t try to keep up with the Jones’s, instead of serving the poor. Is this correct?


He stresses the importance of embracing material poverty as part of the Christian journey. It’s an excellent book and one that many Catholics hate, because it says that the excuse of poverty of spirit is just an excuse not to have to detach from material things.

He does believe in poverty of spirit, but he does not believe in how people have used it. Dubay is very sharp indeed.

JR :slight_smile:


:confused: …see my post in another thread forums.catholic.com/showpost.php?p=4593554&postcount=290


Have you thought about contacting Catholic bookshops also and posing your question - you could look some up on the internet and email them. They are usually very helpful indeed. Also perhaps try the CAF Social Justice Forum if nothing really helpful comes out of this thread here, although I hope it will. There is also your diocesan Catholic Lending Library, they are usually very clued up about Catholic books even if they dont have a particular book in the library for lending.
As a general sort of comment - it can be awesome what The Lord will do if one just puts one’s hand to the plough as it were just a little…it can snowball. In other words, to do what one can for the poor and then look back five years later or so and see what has happened. Very often some sort of incident in one’s life can lead us to places we never ever dreamed of and can be a way of the Holy Spirit nudging us. And never fear,The Lord will never ever ask any more of a person than they are able to give - His Grace is always more than abundant for His Works. Perhaps indeed one can only do very little - then this is all The Lord is asking. As Little St. Therese said, it is never how big or how small the gift is to Jesus, rather the love with which we give it. And the poor are the Gifts of God to us and beloved by Him. I think of it all this way. The Father lined up the rich, the intelligentia and the poor and needy, despised. He asked His Son when He became a human being, where did He think He could best fit in and Jesus choose the poor, needy and despised…and when The Father sees the poor, needy and despised, He sees the Face of His Beloved Son…all ‘as it were’.
Things are not as this world sees things…and Jesus told us it would be this way and not to expect the world to be able to see as we see where the first are indeed last and the last first.

Sometimes sadly those held up to us for esteem and respect, admiration…are not figures that earn our esteem and respect, admiration at all. This is not necessarily a problem of the role or office always, rather of the human being filling that role or office.



Thank you Barb. You have given me a lot to think about. I think you are a very wise person. I will continue my search.


:thumbsup: …Let us Praise The Lord! The more unlikely and broken the vessel The Lord works through, the more his Total Goodness and Mercy will shine…as when light in a totally dark room is brighter then the same light in a bright room. In the bright room we cannot see the light with great clarity…but in the totally dark room we can and notice the light far more than the dark room.

Seach is where it is all at…life is a journey and a search for the message and call in all the unfoldings in the days…and all about perspective and attitude to what does unfold in the days…


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.