How You Give

Our favorite ethernet homilies come courtesy of Fr Vallee. His latest homily, on giving, explains why how you give matters more than what you give:

I got a call from Msgr Delaney, he was my pastor at Holy Family where I had grown up. Msgr was calling to tell me that Fr. Lenny Boucher had died. Fr. Lenny was the old French priest at Holy Family. Msgr. Delaney especially wanted to give me father’s little kit for anointing the sick. Along with the oils and things there was a thick little black book. It was Father’s communion log. In small neat little rows, there were thousands of names. Right up until just before he died, he was still going out many times a week. It was extraordinary the list just went on and on people from all over and at all times of the day and night. There was however one thing that was strange. Beside some but not all of the names there were three little letters “LIB.” I couldn’t figure out what it meant. When Father Marcel saw the letters, he started to softly cry. I said, “Father, what is it?” He said, “Robert, did you notice when most of those LIBS show up?” I said, “Well, most of them are in the middle of the night.”IV. Libentur
Father, then told me that in the old ordination ritual in Latin. The priest makes five promises to serve God’s people and Christ’s church. The last promise is: Do you swear to minister the body and blood of Christ to the people and to do so, libentur? Like our English word, liberty, libentur means freely. Every time Fr Lenny had a very late or a difficult call to make, he would recall the passion of his youth, he would recall that he had promised to do this thing freely, with a free heart, with generosity.

Click on ‘Read more!’ below to see his entire homily at the end of this post. If you want to read more homilies by Fr Vallee, just enter ‘Vallee’ in the search box in the upper right corner.

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Fr Vallee 11/08/09 Homily
I. Widow mite
The meaning of the widow’s mite story is, I think, simply this: It does not matter what you give or how much you give. What matters, all that matters, is how you give. The widow gave freely, with an open heart and that is what matters.

II. The phone at St. Mary’s
My first assignment was at St. Mary’s Cathedral here in Miami. I loved the Cathedral and the people there. In fact I still have a warm spot in my heart for them. I guess for a priest that a first parish is sort of like a first love or a first kiss. Anyhow, there was one thing about the Cathedral that really annoyed me. I was the young associate and, for one reason or another, no one else ever seem to answer the phone at night. I came to hate the sound of Merlin telephone. To this day, the sound of that telephone makes me edgy and nervous. After a while, it affected the way I saw the other priests as well. I would be up all night answering the phone and when I came down from breakfast I would fantasy about ways to kill them all with warm milk and corn flakes.

III. Fr Lenny’s mass kit and communion log
Anyhow this went on for about six months and I was getting more and more angry. About that time, I got a call from Msgr Delaney, he was my pastor at Holy Family where I had grown up. Msgr was calling to tell me that Fr. Lenny Boucher had died. Fr. Lenny was the old French priest at Holy Family. He had worked for many years in Haiti until he was thrown out by the government. Msgr was distributing Fr. Boucher’s things being that he had no family left. Msgr. Delaney especially wanted to give me father’s little kit for anointing the sick. Along with the oils and things there was a thick little black book. It was Father’s communion log. In small neat little rows, there were thousands of names. Right up until just before he died, he was still going out many times a week.. As I paged back in the book, I found the name of my own Zio who Fr. Lenny had visited many times. It was extraordinary the list just went on and on people from all over and at all times of the day and night. There was however one thing that was strange. Beside some but not all of the names there were three little letters “LIB.” I couldn’t figure out what it meant. I asked Monsignor Delaney and he, too, did not know. When I got back the Cathedral, I showed the book to Fr. Marcel Peloquin. He was an old French priest who had worked for many years with Fr Boucher in Haiti and had studied with him in seminary. When Father Marcel saw the letters, he started to softly cry. I said, “Father, what is it?” He said, “Robert, did you notice when most of those LIBS show up?” I said, “Well, most of them are in the middle of the night.”

IV. Libentur
Father, then told me that in the old ordination ritual in Latin. The priest makes five promises to serve God’s people and Christ’s church. The last promise is: Do you swear to minister the body and blood of Christ to the people and to do so, libentur? Like our English word, liberty, libentur means freely. Every time Fr Lenny had a very late or a difficult call to make, he would recall the passion of his youth, he would recall that he had promised to do this thing freely, with a free heart, with generosity. And if he couldn’t do it that way, it was not worth doing at all. I went back to my room and turned my phone off. From then on, I would only turn to on when I was on duty. You see letting myself become an angry and bitter little martyr was not helping any one, not me, not the people and not Christ.

Conclusion
What matters is not what you give or how much you give. What matters is how you give. What you cannot or do not give libentur, with a free heart is not worth giving at all. The widow goes home justified because she gave freely, generously, with an open heart.
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About Jorge Costales

- Cuban Exile [veni] - Raised in Miami [vidi] - American Citizen [vici]
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