What situations cause you the most tension of faith vs society


#1

And how do you deal with them?

For me, the following things alwasy ster tension

Seeing a hitchhiker on the road. In my single days I did pick them up on occassion, now DW would kill me if I did, especially if family is in the car. The tension between loving thy neighbor and protecting the family is always strong.

Almsgiving to poor on the street (not through organizations). I used to always try to give something, but at the same time eventually in some cities you realize you can't always do that. In addition, the same issue comes up when with family, I generally don't give out of respect for my wife's fear that more could happen. At the same time, I can't help but think the person needs help, and I can help in some small way.

Charity vs enabling. We all know people, family or friends who have ended up in bad situations due primarily to their own choices and efforts. While I believe in unlimited chances, that doesn't come when people don't want to change. Obviously there are rough times locally for many that haven't "made there bed" so to speak, and worldwide it's a completely different story, but it's easy to have a fear of giving to the wrong situation.

Economic tensions on spending. I firmly do believe over consumerism will not fullfill anyone, but at the same time, I do enjoy nice things. I also do believe that in the current economic times, consumerism is needed to employ people. It does provide opportunities for people here and elsewhere. At the same time, as an individual, I could alwasy give more and spend less without upsetting the overall economy (on my own).

While most the time, I'm just living trying to do my best, at times I can get almost paralyzed by fear that I'm not faithful to God if I don't "sell everything and give to the poor, or leave my family for God". I so enjoy family time and playing with my son, etc. and feel I have so many blessings that I fear I like life too much. I hate the extremes I go through, as I feel it would be easy to turn toward God to do better, give a little more time and treasure, make a commitment to avoid sin, etc, but I fear thats not radical enough. On the flip side, if I find myself thinking radically, I find myself becoming extremely jugemental.

I'm not sure what I'm hoping to get out of this thread, except wondering if others go through similar conflicts, and how they deal with them.


#2

In all of these situations protecting your family is a number 1 priority. I understand the tension though. In the case with the hitchiker, I’m not sure what I would do. It is a scary situation at times.

Almsgiving to poor on the street (not through organizations). I used to always try to give something, but at the same time eventually in some cities you realize you can’t always do that. In addition, the same issue comes up when with family, I generally don’t give out of respect for my wife’s fear that more could happen. At the same time, I can’t help but think the person needs help, and I can help in some small way.

This is a big problem. My parish is downtown so we get the homeless a lot. We have been told not to give them money. Their physical needs are often taken care of. There are soup kitchens and shelters to go to. Often times the money will go to alcohol and cigarettes. The saddest part is that their mental health is not taken care of. Many of these people have issues with addiction and bad mental health. It is sad to see and I don’t believe that enough is done for them. If you want to help them, try buying them a sandwich. Granted, sometimes they will get angry if you do that but other times they might not. I know it is a very tough dilemma though :(.

Charity vs enabling. We all know people, family or friends who have ended up in bad situations due primarily to their own choices and efforts. While I believe in unlimited chances, that doesn’t come when people don’t want to change. Obviously there are rough times locally for many that haven’t “made there bed” so to speak, and worldwide it’s a completely different story, but it’s easy to have a fear of giving to the wrong situation.

This is a very understandable problem. No one likes to be mooched and used :(. Oftentimes the best thing to do is to get them help by getting them into programs that are designed to help them. Ultimately, they have to want to change. If they don’t. There isn’t a whole lot that we can do other than pray for them of course :).

Economic tensions on spending. I firmly do believe over consumerism will not fullfill anyone, but at the same time, I do enjoy nice things. I also do believe that in the current economic times, consumerism is needed to employ people. It does provide opportunities for people here and elsewhere. At the same time, as an individual, I could alwasy give more and spend less without upsetting the overall economy (on my own).

I think that prudence and moderation is key here. I like nice things as well but if I can’t afford it then I don’t get it. I used to work in retail so I made my paycheck off of other people’s materialism. It does help the economy to a degree but we also have to learn to live simply. Having nice things are fine once in a while.

While most the time, I’m just living trying to do my best, at times I can get almost paralyzed by fear that I’m not faithful to God if I don’t “sell everything and give to the poor, or leave my family for God”.

My husband has said it best that we serve God through our vocations and duties in life. You are a husband and a father. That is your situation in life. That is where you serve God. Sure, there are other ways to serve God too such as helping out in some way in the parish or giving money to charity.

I so enjoy family time and playing with my son, etc. and feel I have so many blessings that I fear I like life too much. I hate the extremes I go through, as I feel it would be easy to turn toward God to do better, give a little more time and treasure, make a commitment to avoid sin, etc, but I fear thats not radical enough. On the flip side, if I find myself thinking radically, I find myself becoming extremely jugemental.

Have you talked to your confessor about this? He might be able to help you. The best thing to do is to concentrate on your duties to God and your family. You will be serving God through them. If something comes up that you can do to help such as singing in the choir, teaching CCD, etc then do that.

I’m not sure what I’m hoping to get out of this thread, except wondering if others go through similar conflicts, and how they deal with them.

Sometimes I wish I could do more as well. Currently I sing in the choir, my husband directs the choir and my brother is an altar server. I wish we could give more money but we have very, very little. However, we do what we can.


#3

I think the previous poster gave a lot of good responses...
But I just wanted to add... although we don't LIVE in a metropolitan area (suburbia here), when we travel to big cities where we expect to be seeing homeless along the streets, we usually buy a big box of granola bars (or something of the like) to hand out if they ask us along the way. We say "I don't have any cash, but would you care for some food?" (we rarely carry cash anyway, so no lying involved)... this way you're not enabling any seedy habits.


#4

Thanks for your insight, and I do think it would be good to talk to a confesor about some of this. I will say one of my issues, I believe is I grew up with a financial condition that wasn't poverty, but things were tight. We lived in small apartments or trailor parks and my parents couldn't help with college (although my grandmother did help some). By the Grace of God, I have been able to obtain some material comforts. In addition, my wife comes from a family that had a little more, and now that I have had some comforts, I enjoy them.

I don't put any "faith" in them, and understand they are both gifts from God and could be taken away at any time by a host of things outside my control. We do try to make sensible decisions and not live beyond our mean, for example my wife gave up her successful career to raise a family, and we buy/drive used cars as long as we can, etc. At the same time we do have a nice house and have some things people could consider luxuries, and I would be lying to myself if I didn't think it would be difficult to go back to the financial situation I grew up with. Of course, since I know many, many people with more, it would be easy to justify that by some standards we don't have a lot. The flip side is I know even compared to the majority of my community, and especially if you consider the vast population in Asia and Africa as well as Mexico, etc. we would appear very wealthy.

I do think there is something to be said for being grateful for the blessings God has given, commiting use them wisely and generously, and being careful to avoid pride in them.


#5

I have many conflicts when it comes to loving others especially people in my family like.. am I being charitable, am I enabling, am I setting setting boundries selfishly.

It has been a large problem for me in these past couple of years and I can't seem to find a discernable guide to solve these issues, there are so many grey areas and I am a fallen sinner trying to the Lords will. Sometimes it's clear what I need to do but sometimes I feel very lost and very guilty about my feelings toward others and question my own motives.


#6

[quote="ab75, post:1, topic:203796"]
And how do you deal with them?

For me, the following things alwasy ster tension

Seeing a hitchhiker on the road.
Almsgiving to poor on the street (not through organizations).
Charity vs enabling. .

[/quote]

this is my personal take, not church teaching that I know of, but I don't see anything in the bible or church teaching that tells us to abandon the cardinal virtues of prudence and justice.

In thinking through my response to similar situations I have been struck many times by the fact that my reaction very often is based in my feeling or attitude that I am in charge, that I am elected by God by virtue of my superior abilities to be the one and only person who can help this individual at this time. I have noted so many times a strong spiritual pride and sense of superiority that has been much stronger than any true Christian charity of the type described by St. John in my general attitude and reponse to persons in need of any kind. Only I can help, only I know what this person really needs, I am superior to any organization set up to help such people, I can be shrink, pastor and social worker to anyone I meet. As I say this is personal to me but I have to say it is an attitude of pride and need to control others that I have observed many, many times on the part of others even those in leadership roles in various social service settings.

I truly think that for me it has been necessary, and a long struggle, to achieve true humility, to see the face of Christ in those who ask me directly, or through other avenues, for help, to admit my own limitations and incompetence in so many situations, to be willing to support without thanks or acknowledgement those who are providing the real help and doing the real work, rather than inisting on doing it myself in my own way.


#7

[quote="m_crane, post:5, topic:203796"]
I have many conflicts when it comes to loving others especially people in my family like.. am I being charitable, am I enabling, am I setting setting boundries selfishly.

It has been a large problem for me in these past couple of years and I can't seem to find a discernable guide to solve these issues, there are so many grey areas and I am a fallen sinner trying to the Lords will. Sometimes it's clear what I need to do but sometimes I feel very lost and very guilty about my feelings toward others and question my own motives.

[/quote]

This can be a big one as well ... loving and teaching without judging. My wife's parents left the Church after a lot of the scandels hit the School they were in and ultimately became Jehova's Witnesses. Ultimately, I do appreciate their zeal for God and desire to know him. I wish many Catholic Parishes promoted the fellowship and provided opportunities to grow in faith like their congregation does. On the flip side, there are serious flaws in their teaching, and I can see how some truths of the Bible can be twisted or used for negative in the extreme. For example, when they began studying with a JW, and were told their family would reject this, just as the Bible says, and that is how you know it's true.

Anyway, the point of this is, I can see that while they love the family VERY much, that it's a tough line to try and teach and being judgemental. I can then see how the judgemental side of teaching can easily push people away and prevent them from experiencing the Love of God. Now of course, they will justify this as the world rejects the message, and while we do have to be careful not to accept non-Christian things just so people family like us, I'm quite sure judgemental guidance doesn't show the charity of Christ as well.


#8

[quote="puzzleannie, post:6, topic:203796"]
I truly think that for me it has been necessary, and a long struggle, to achieve true humility, to see the face of Christ in those who ask me directly, or through other avenues, for help, to admit my own limitations and incompetence in so many situations, to be willing to support without thanks or acknowledgement those who are providing the real help and doing the real work, rather than inisting on doing it myself in my own way.

[/quote]

This is actually great advice and seems to hit home. I think DW would agree with you as she recognizes my personality contains many extremes, and is often type A. Thanks for the response.


#9

I think my biggest conflict in faith vs. society comes from my lifestyle. We are a two income family living in a comfortable home with two small children. I wear a diamond wedding band and engagement ring. We're not rich by any means, but we live with most of the modern comforts blessed upon middle class Americans. I often wonder if I approached Christ like the rich man in Matthew 19 if He would tell me “Go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

I carry a guilt with me for living a comfortable life while there is so much suffering in the world when Christ has called us to give up our riches.


#10

[quote="samovila, post:9, topic:203796"]
I think my biggest conflict in faith vs. society comes from my lifestyle. We are a two income family living in a comfortable home with two small children. I wear a diamond wedding band and engagement ring. We're not rich by any means, but we live with most of the modern comforts blessed upon middle class Americans. I often wonder if I approached Christ like the rich man in Matthew 19 if He would tell me “Go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

I carry a guilt with me for living a comfortable life while there is so much suffering in the world when Christ has called us to give up our riches.

[/quote]

I agree with this, and it is this passage along with the passages from this weekend about being willing to leave your family, not bury your father and having no home required in his descipleship, I believe that are stirring me to type this. Some of it, I do believe comes from that fear, etc. Of course, when the stakes of this life, eternal life for self and family, are so large, I don't want to fall short. When I think like this, I can get almost paralyzed with fear, and concern that anything I do is "justification". I think it's important to take these feelings seriously, but I've somewhat been coming to peace thinking of a few of the following.

1) I've come back the simplicity of Luke 10:25 - 28

"There was a scholar of the law 11 who stood up to test him and said, "Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus said to him, "What is written in the law? How do you read it?" He said in reply, "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself." He replied to him, "You have answered correctly; do this and you will live."

It's easy to get outside of this, but we really do have access to the spirit of God within us, and if we open to it, he will show us the way through the little things, and potentially big things. If we think like God is listening to us and treat people with the focus and spirit, that is really what we are called to do. I can certainly do that more, and should

2) The instructions from 1 Timothy 6

"Tell the rich in the present age not to be proud and not to rely on so uncertain a thing as wealth but rather on God, who richly provides us with all things for our enjoyment. Tell them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous, ready to share, thus accumulating as treasure a good foundation for the future, so as to win the life that is true life."

We need to remind ourselves of this, God gives for us to be generous, humble, ready to share, and enjoy. We need to be mindful, that everything can change in an instint outside our control, so while it's good to prepare so that you can have some level of earthly security in a way that you won't need others to help you for no good reason, we also need to realize everything can change in a moment and we can lose all we have through things outside or inside our control (i.e. the country could be attacked and economies change).

3) I CAN do small things to change the world for the better, but I can't ultimately change the world the way I want, and need to live within this world. In the world we live it doesn't take a village to provide the bare necessities for that village. We'd probably all be happier if we were in a world where we didn't "want" cheap goods, and rather worked in more harmony to produce less together, and more equally (not just here, but compared to the world at large). However, we are in a world where buying things does provide jobs for many people, and a world with endless charity needs. We need to trust God to show us how to walk the balance, and we need to be prepared to help those around us, including family if possible.


#11

I enjoy the human race...We're all nuts! LOL

There is some truth to my comment. God gave us free will, so sit back and enjoy what everyone is doing with it. It makes for a heck of a party.

That's how I deal with, all while being as faithful as I can and realize that I'm not so perfect either.

Cheers...


#12

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