Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Telemarketing and Discernment

I don't like telemarketing. I'd like to be able to pick up my phone when it rings and not have it be someone asking me for money.

Today, I had the unpleasant experience twice.

It was an exercise in patience and discernment for me. The first caller received a donation. The second caller didn't.

Caller number one was soliciting funds for a Catholic organization. The woman mentioned that we had given to their group in the past - when a priest visited our parish, gave the homily, and prayed the Mass. She knew the priest's name, the name of my parish, and how much we had given that day. She asked if I would be willing to increase our pledge. I said we weren't in a position to do that, but I would match the pledge I made when Father so-and-so visited. I felt good about the donation. It represented what we could honestly afford. I knew I could trust the woman on the phone (for a number of reasons). And the organization ministers to the poor. Caller scores a homerun.

Not so Caller number two. This woman called a few hours later. She mentioned that I had signed a petition which they had hosted. (I don't remember it, but she might be right.) And she wanted to know if I would make a donation so that they could continue to fight homosexuals in their quest for marital status and so on. Now, I am a traditionalist. I believe marriage is a sacrament and a gift from God. I believe, as the Church teaches, that marriage is between one man and one woman. But the way the caller said the word homosexual really bothered me. No, it actually made me sad. There is no room for hostility in the pro-life, pro-marriage effort. So, that was a red flag. I said no thank you. She didn't take no for an answer. Instead, she lowered the dollar amount she had originally requested. No, I don't want to send that much either, I said. How about in three weeks? Would you be able to consider giving a donation then? No, please don't call me in three weeks.

I have a few general rules. Give through the Church before giving to charities. Give to charities I know. Give to lay apostolates I trust. (After that, give only when I am confident the Holy Spirit is leading me to do so.)

Bottom line, give with great discernment. Be certain that love and truth (today's Encyclical) are marks of the organization.

And maybe that is all I need to remember.


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