“The truly loving heart loves God’s good pleasure not in consolations only but also in afflictions.”
(St. Francis de Sales-Treatise on the Love of God)
Recently a woman contacted me, wanting to make a donation to our parish ministry to the poor and homeless. St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church is located in the heart of downtown Indianapolis, a thriving city that is experiencing a resurgence in downtown living and entertainment. Unfortunately, as is the case in most cities, there is also a growing homeless population who spend their days searching for the basic necessities of life. Our Garden Door Ministry provides food, water, clothing and hygiene products for anyone who comes knocking on our parish office door during the work day. Inquiries from people wanting to make donations are not unusual, but this particular woman’s generosity left me stunned by her virtuous response to her own suffering.
Kathryn was diagnosed with breast cancer and will be receiving 15 chemo treatments over the next few months. I have known other people who were battling cancer who had friends that did extraordinary things to express their love and support: shave their heads, take up a collection to support them financially, have friends and family gather for a mass specifically for their healing, etc. But in this case, it’s Kathryn herself who will be doing something extraordinary for others, for complete strangers, while she is battling breast cancer. On her Facebook Page “15 Treatments, 15 Charities,” she explains that when she tells friends of her diagnosis, people want to know how they can help. She writes, “my truth is that I have good health insurance, I work for a great company that supports my time off, and I have a wonderful group of close family and friends that have taken care of everything that I would ever need.” Except for one thing: her volunteer work.
Because her illness would prevent her from doing her beloved volunteer work, she has dedicated each chemo treatment to highlighting a charity of her choice that she has given to in the past. So she asks of others, “Please take a minute and consider giving to one of the organizations during this time when I cannot do that.” For chemo treatment #3 she is asking people to donate socks and underwear to our Garden Door Ministry, a need that is often overlooked and in short supply. Outside her work cubicle she has a bin where coworkers can conveniently drop off their donations. She encourages others to take their donations directly to our church. And for those who live too far away she asks, “Pick up a pack of socks and underwear on your next trip to the store and deliver it to a local church or shelter. I promise it will make a difference to someone.”
In all our email communications she has never once asked for a prayer, for anything, but to make this happen for others. This is how we change the world we live in. This is how we inspire others to love. This is how we Live Jesus. I wrote back to Kathryn, “Some day, when you feel up to it, I want to meet you in person.”