Tag Archives: generosity

Blessed are those who give

Generosity is a hallmark of Legates who never fail to impress with their lived faith . . .

Patrick Novecosky

Patrick Novecosky

Legatus members never fail to impress me. In a world that often seems to be controlled by people with a secular humanist worldview and a good dose of moral relativism, Legates stand out like a sore thumb. And that’s a good thing.

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to spend a little time with Donald and Michele D’Amour, who are featured in this month’s cover story (Click here for a related story). I learned that they’re successful for many reasons — including the fact that they’re purpose-driven, both in business and in philanthropy. And most importantly, their faith informs their decisions in every aspect of their lives.

The D’Amours’ generosity has not gone unnoticed. In May, Assumption College awarded them honorary degrees. And just last month, the National Catholic Education Association bestowed upon them their highest honor — the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Award — for their commitment to higher education.

Shortly before going to press with this issue, I learned that on Oct. 2, St. Louis Chapter members P. Scott and Kathleen Hummel were inducted into the Smurfit-Stone Entrepreneurial Alumni Hall of Fame of the John Cook School of Business at St. Louis University. They founded Our Little Haven, a program for children who are suffering from abuse, neglect, drug exposure or HIV impact. Since 1993, the couple’s programs have helped more than 4,000 children.

Philanthropy and helping those most in need seems to be a theme for all Legatus members, beginning with founder Tom Monaghan. In August, he joined dozens of other billionaires in committing to give away large chunks of their wealth as part of a pact. The Giving Pledge, thought up by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, is a $125 billion charity drive that involves some of the world’s wealthiest families.

When Gates approached Monaghan about the pledge a month ago, the Domino’s Pizza founder didn’t think twice about participating. “It’s a great idea to encourage people who have that kind of money to give it to charity,” he told the Naples Daily News. “When Bill [Gates] recently contacted me, I was more than happy to participate. I’ve already committed virtually everything I have to charities.”

All Legates, billionaires or not, use their means and influence for good. They’re among the first to “give back” from what God has given them. They know, too, that any recognition they receive is both an honor and a burden, bringing with it a visibility that can draw an overwhelming number of requests for help. For those embarking on large-scale giving, the D’Amours offer excellent advice like making sure donations go where they can do the most good and following up to see that goals are being accomplished. Those who are willing to stand out like “sore thumbs” are actually giving twice — first to those who receive their help, and second to those for whom they are a reassuring light in the darkness.

Patrick Novecosky is Legatus Magazine’s editor.

God can’t be outdone in generosity

Bishop Sam Jacobs urges all to be generous because the Lord is generous to us . . .

Bishop Sam Jacobs

Bishop Sam Jacobs

God has blessed each one of us in ways beyond our comprehension or expectation. The proper response to blessings received is heartfelt gratitude. We know that we can never equalize the many blessings of God because his blessings are constant, continual and overabundant.

Furthermore, our gratitude is limited to what he has already given us. Our mind, our will, our voice, our body and our material goods all came from God. It’s like a person receiving a cake from someone and, in turn, giving that person a slice of the cake in gratitude. What have we received that is not from God?

In a sense, it’s not so much what we give back to God as much as the attitude with which the gift is made. If a child coming home from school plucks a wild flower from a field and brings it home to his mother, the flower will likely be wilted by the time the exchange is made. The mother doesn’t see a wilted flower but the child’s sincere love. The amount is not what the Lord sees but the attitude of the heart. The widow’s mite in the Gospel is a clear example of this.

No matter what we return to God, we can never outdo his generosity. Many years ago, a ministry I was part of had a substantial debt with the diocese. Our team was determined to eliminate the debt as quickly as possible. One night on the way to an event, I heard God challenge me to step out in faith with boldness when I made the love offering appeal. I heard in my heart to ask some people to give $5,000, $1,000 or whatever they could to defray this debt. I could do that.

Then God pushed me further. I felt him saying in my heart to tell the people that if they gave $5,000, they would get it back in a month — and if they didn’t, I would give it back to them. I literally did a double-take when I heard this. Was that God, or was that me? After prayer, I decided that it was God. So I made the appeal as given to me. Three people each gave $5,000, and within the month they received that and more from God. We don’t give to receive. But if we give to God, we will receive more than we gave in different ways besides monetarily.

The Word of God confirms this. Paul writes: “Moreover, God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written: ‘He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.’ The one who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness” (2 Cor 9: 8-10).

Sometimes we become a little more conservative or guarded in our generosity during difficult economic times. This puts us in a paradoxical position. We want God to help us get through the difficult times, but we hold back in being the good stewards we were in good times. Is it because we lack trust in God to provide for us in dire moments? Instead, we want to see what God will do before we respond in generosity. What if God waited for us to be good stewards even before seeing what he will do for us?

The attitude God is looking for in our hearts is that of the three young men in the Old Testament who refused to worship anything but God alone. In a final threat to dissuade them in their refusal, the king said, “What god can save you from the fiery furnace I am about to throw you into if you do not worship the golden statue?” Their answer was to the point: “We know God can save us. But whether he does or not, we will not worship anyone but God alone.” They were thrown into the furnace but remained unscathed by the fire.

Whether God will provide for us or not, we are called to be faithful to our commitment of gratitude through the stewardship of time, talent and treasure. Our generosity is not only if God blesses us at this moment, but whether he blesses us now or not, he has already blessed us. As a result we cannot be grateful enough.

Who can pay God back for the gift of physical life? For the gift of eternal life? For the forgiveness of our many sins — even those of the future? For his everlasting love? For his manifold blessings? For good health? For the freedoms we enjoy? There is no end to his blessings. There should be no end to our generosity in thanksgiving.

This is really the capstone: “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more” (Lk 12: 48). It is better to err on the side of generosity than on the side of holding back, especially when we will one day have to give an account of our lives.

Bishop Sam Jacobs is Legatus’ international chaplain and the ordinary of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, La.

Generosity is a habit

Patrick Novecosky writes that sadly, when we speak of stewardship, we think of money . . .

Patrick Novecosky

Patrick Novecosky

Generosity is a habit. To use a sports analogy, it’s like a muscle that, once stretched and flexed, will take us farther than if we’d just kicked back and relaxed. And, like all good behavior, generosity takes practice. The more we give, the more quickly it will become second nature.

Unfortunately, when we speak of giving or stewardship — especially in the Church — people automatically think of money. As Bishop Sam Jacobs points out in his guest editorial, however, God has blessed each of us with much more than what is in our bank accounts and stock portfolios. Stewardship rightly refers to all of the graces God has given us — our time, our abilities and our financial blessings.

Scripture is overflowing with reasons to be generous. Our first pontiff tells us that “as each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Pet 4:10). God’s blessings are not ours alone. He gives them in order that we may build His Kingdom.

Jesus reminds us that we don’t hide a lamp under a bushel basket, but rather we put it on a lampstand so that everyone in the room will be able to see. Similarly, we’re called to use what He’s given us for the glory of his name and the salvation of souls. When good stewards of God’s gifts live Christ-centered rather than self-centered lives, profound gratitude becomes their fundamental motive for giving back. They are compelled to sacrifice in order that others may have more— just as parents sacrifice for their children. They give out of simple heartfelt love.

Just as children recognize their needs, ask their parents to fill them, and are taught to express gratitude, we need to take the same attitude before God who is the most generous of givers. We also need to acknowledge that his gifts to us always exceed our asking — whether we recognize it or not.

With grateful hearts, we begin by taking that excess and giving generously wherever the Lord leads us. Then we must dig a little deeper and give more. Will the Lord leave us with less than we need? Scripture makes it clear that the Lord will never abandon his own — even in difficult economic times.

The November 2009 issue of Legatus Magazine, dedicated to philanthropy, has numerous examples of Legatus members who exemplify Christian giving: John and Carol Saeman, Allen and Kathleen Lund, Jerry Semler, Phyllis Schlafly, and our new board members.

These and numerous others have flexed their “generosity muscles.” They’ve made giving a habit. They are not only to be commended for their bigheartedness, but they are to be emulated — and their efforts replicated — so that the Gospel may be preached to all who would hear it.

Patrick Novecosky is Legatus Magazine’s editor.