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April 4, 1997     The Message
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April 4, 1997

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ii,i ' i The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 5 's Forum-- Etta Kiefer of the that virtually coming knocking at for ideas to write forum. Though I do not if this effort goes acknowledge that that someone ought to of the Spark that generated So... noticed how is about everything identification of simple: generosity. year our senses give us on God's unconditional generosity terms can seem to be extravagant. the country or a ride down the inter- will suffice to remind you that st generous in its ability to intensities. I believe that ck immortalized the experience after of such sensibilities when she grass grows greener over the sep- God's extravagance By BISHOP GERALD A. GETTELFINGER God could have given us a nose that wasn't quite so sensitive to some "fragrances." But no, unre- strained generosity led to a human nose that is sensitive to all of them. The more intense the scent, the more powerful is the interpretation of pleasure or displeasure regis- tered on our sensibilities. The lesson: we can't have it both ways. We know it is a mystery as to how smelly fertilizer can produce such delightful fragrances which we enjoy emanating from roses and Easter lilies. God's unconditional generosity is evident in both. Then there is the matter of rain. Why does God have to be so generous with itto the point of the extravagance known as a flood? Some have suggest- ed that floods are used to punish, but then again, God generously rains on the just and unjust alike. We do know that if it rains too much, the crops can't grow and if it rains too little the crops won't grow. We rejoice in the signs of budding trees and then the light green that announces the renewal of Spring and new life. Have you ever considered how many leaves God gives us to provide shade and beauty. Unfortunately, we more often than not don't consider their abundance until they fall on the yard. Our climate provides such an extravagant cele- bration of Easter with a profusion of blossoms. Who is there that is not be uplifted to see red bud, dog- wood, forsythia, daffodils, tulips, star magnolias, pansies, crocuses, azaleas in such profusion? There is an early report that morel mushrooms have been found despite the chilly weather. They "pop up" for our pleasure; why else would God send them? In my multiple trips east on Interstate 64 I eagerly anticipate the beauty of the "Easter Flow- ers" blooming with abandon in the median between the Ferdinand and Tell City exits. Some are individ- ual flowers; some are in clumps; some are in large patches! They are worth a trifor they are God's reminders of the promise of lsurrection. They are so evident in the sensible world in which we live to the point of extravagance. Have you ever pondered the fact that GOd places no conditions on the infinite and uncondition- al generosity that is so obvious to us mortals. Is there not a lesson for us? Are we not chal- lenged to imitate the same unconditional generosity in sharing the gifts that God has so extravagantly bestowed on each of us? ship aost powerful In our lives? dis- , or dis- e phe- prejudice, ?You personal opening the risk of Your choic- two ordinarily (CNs)-s00w. with duty. ost kids do are at least ing age would is out to up COncept con. --- time, "- to how can Two most powerful forces receive top billing in the power- ful forces category: feelings and memories. Consider for a moment the strength of feelings and memo- ries and the way they can fre- quently dominate our lives. An overwhelming feeling can whisk you to an emotional mountain top or drive you deep into a val- ley of despair. The relentless flood of a memory can fill you with boundless joy and laughter or it can drown you in sobs and tears. Unlike other forces in our lives, feelings and memories are sometimes under our complete control; at other times they are in complete control of us. By themselves, feelings and memories are neither good nor bad. They are just feelings and memories. We label them "good" or "bad" depending on what they do to us or for us. As we age, feelings and memories take on different meanings. Children, for example, spend little time talking about their memories; they're too busy making them! We graying adults, on the other hand, can't help talking inces- santly about the past  we have so much of it! Ifyou don't think feelings and memories play a major role in our Catholic faith, you'd better check your vital signs! We all know what happens when "reli- gion" becomes a topic of conver- sation! And when we, from time to time, ponder the meaning and place of stewardship in our lives as disciples of Jesus Christ, feel- ings and memories become a sig- nificant part of the equation. Let's consider the power of feel- ings and memories -- and their relationship to good stewardship -- with a true story. Several years ago I taught an Introductory Psychology course to four different classes of Catholic high school seniors. One segment of the course was devoted to Perception which included the ways our senses impact our world and our rela- tionships. One of the questions we raised was: "What if you lost, or in fact never had the use of, any or all of your senses?  A friend of mine had a friend who had been blind from birth; let's call him "Mike" (not his real name). I asked my friend if he thought Mike would consider speaking to the four Psychology classes about how he coped with his sightlessness. Mike enthusi- astically accepted our invitation and we set a date. In the meantime, I suggested to my classes that it would be a nice gesture if we would do some- on the desk- in front of him thing to show Mike our gratitude (where the Braille typewriter for sharing his time and talent, had been placed). When Mike's My friend told me that Mike hands touched the typewriter, he badly wanted a Braille type- knew immediately what it was writer, but because they cost -- and he began to weep. Ever)' about $200. he was unable to single person in the room-- stu- afford one. My students -- about dents, teachers, reporters joined 100 of them -- agreed to chip in in his tears of joy. A reporter from $2 each to buy a Braille cype- the:local newpaper.statnding writer. We decided to give it to next to me said, through hisown Mike as a surprise after he had sobbing,"Man, this is too much!" spoken to all four classes. I'm sure that everyone who The day for Mike's sdsit ame. was in the room that day still He spoke frankly and eloquently chokes with emotion when they to each class about the unique life recall that magnificent and mov- of someone who was blind from ing moment. In fact, tears are birth. Mike was a smashing suc- streaming down my face as I cess. He loved the chance to share write these words. And what a his life experiences, and the stu- powerful lesson in good stew- dents were enthralled with him. ardship: sharing with others out After his final presentation, all of gratitude for the gifts and four classes assembled in a large blessings we have received. classroom for the surprise giR of Feelings and memories: they the Braille typewriter, are indeed powerful forces. And, Reporters from the local news if we let them, they can be con- media had been invited to stant reminders oft he joy that attend. We told Mike, as he being a good steward can bring entered the room, that the stu- into our lives. "But', you say, "I dents wanted one last opportu- have so many troubles in my life nity to thank him for his enlight- -- I can't find the joy." A wise ening and inspiring presentation, person once said: =A good way to My friend led Mike to a desk forget your troubles is to help at the front of the room and others out of theirs." Dear asked him to sit in a chair behind friends, we can't be reminded of the desk. Then I told him to this too oRen: "God will not be extend his hands and place them outdone in generosity." helps kids see stewardship as more than money responsibility. "We need to teach kids while they are kids that stewardship is more than just giving money," said Perron, director of religious education at SL Matthew Parish in Topeka. "And we need to teach kids that tithing is an important part of financial plans. We need to show kids how to spend responsibly  whether it is for tithing, savings or some- thing material that we need or want." Perron came up with the idea while researching resources on stewardship for his youth group. lie wanted to teach students about stewardship three times a ytuLr, instead of once, which is the Ju)rln. ...... ' .......... "I was fooling around on the computer and came up with the idea for the game," he told The Leaven, newspaper of the Arch- diocese of Kansas City. "There was nothing special to it -- it was just an idea.  The game is played on a board with pieces you move by rolling the dice. Instead ofbuying prop- erty or paying up, you land on time, treasure or talent squares and pick up cards, moving for- ward or backward according to what your card says. For example, if you landed on a "talenC space, the card might read: "You are a great athlete "time" card, you might get "You didn't mow the lawn when your parents asked. Go back two spaces." A"treasure" card might he: .you found $50 from last winter in your coat pocket and blew it all on CDs at the mall. Go back two spaces." Other spaces on the board feature Bibles, where students must look up Scripture pas- sages on stewardship. The verses, which range from the Book of Exodus to passages in 1 Timothy, talk about greed, helping others, taking care of possessions and loving our neighbors. and you get involved at sports When students land on this in school, Go forward two, space, they must look up the spaces." If you landed on a specific Scripture passage listed and see how it relates to stew. ardship. The first time Perron intr duced the game to the relioua education students and students at St. Matthew School, he used a life-size board with people as game piece "It was a test marketer's dream -- 500 ki& playing the game and having a good time," he said. "They didn't want to stop play in_g. In fact, they approached me for a game to play during indoor recess, which for me was a sign that the game was good. " For information on where l'he Stewardship Game" wilt be available, contact Sheed add