It’s not the first time one of my CCD kids came up with the topic for class. We were talking about Lent. That’s a broad enough subject, and the book our parish uses had it conveniently broken down for me into the history, purpose, and sacrifices of Lent.
My fourth grade class is always curious and eager to talk and ask questions, which is part of what I love best about teaching them.
We explained prayer, fasting and almsgiving as familiar practices for Lent. Of course the word almsgiving immediately brings to mind money. Giving, donating, sharing are all familiar topics to 9 and 10 year olds but they assumed as many people do that it only refers to money.
“Well if your family doesn’t have a lot of money what are you supposed to do?” one boy asked. “Sometimes my father says before we go to the church oh I don’t have any money to put in the basket!”
A girl sitting across from him added, “Yeah my parents say they owe a lot of money so they can’t put any money in the maternity home collection boxes you gave us.”
Oh, I was so glad they brought this up! God doesn’t limit our giving, donating, and sharing to mere financial support.
Among the great folks who give in various ways who popped into was one girl’s mother who sings in the church choir. “She’s giving her time and her voice to our parish,” I said. She hadn’t thought of that as ‘giving.’ Two boys in my class are altar servers. I pointed out that this was their way of giving, through their time and service. I shared with them a small group of women I know who go to a nearby nursing home one morning a month. They give their time and their compassion, praying the rosary, bringing a small dog for the residents to hold and play with, and listening to their stories. The children were fascinated by this kind gesture for complete strangers. I mentioned the women who knit baby blankets for the pregnancy center, and the man and his high school son who’ve done handyman jobs at the local maternity home. I thought of a Spanish speaking woman I know who helps new immigrants learn to speak English. Another sharing person who came to mind were the young adults who volunteer at my son’s special needs sports program. They give up their Friday nights to play basketball or play other games with teens who have autism, Down syndrome, or other challenges. We talked about a family who started a collection drive of sports equipment for a very poor city parish, spending their time sorting and delivering baseball, lacrosse, basketball and soccer stuff. One girl raised her hand and said her mother has a habit of buying “two of anything that’s a really good sale and we give one to the outreach program.” Another student said his uncle is a plumber and recently” he fixed his neighbor’s plumbing problem for free because the father of the family just died and the mom is really sad.”
God is happy when we give of our time, talent, or treasure, I said, and not everyone has a lot of treasure. The ideas for how we can share our time or talent to help others are endless, these fourth graders realized.
“And you’re giving your time and talent to teach us about God!” another girl said. Yes, and what a joy it is.