Now Reading: #FultonFridays: The Joy of Giving

#FultonFridays: The Joy of Giving

farmerOccasionally on Fridays I post excerpts from the writings of the great American bishop and media evangelist, Ven. Fulton J. Sheen. Call them #FultonFridays!

The vast majority of the people in Western civilization are engaged in the task of getting. Strange as it may seem, the Christian ethic is founded on the opposite principle, that it is more blessed to give than to receive. Both the opportunity and the burden of filling this Divine mandate falls principally on those of us who live in a civilization that has been abundantly blessed by God. We pay more in taxes than most people of the world earn to keep body and soul together.

The reason it is more blessed to give than to receive is because it helps to detach the soul from the material and the temporal in order to ally it with a spirit of altruism and charity which is the essence of religion. Cicero once said that “Men resemble gods in nothing so much as in doing good to their fellow creatures.” Aristotle says that by narrowness and selfishness, by envy and ill will, men degenerate into beasts and become wolves and tigers to one another; but by mutual compassion and helpfulness, men become gods to one another.

On a smaller scale, it will be found that the unity of a community depends to a greater extent upon the services and kindnesses of one individual to another. The farming population of any country in the world is a perfect example of this altruism. At harvest time, each farmer helps every other farmer, and when there is a death in the family, willing hands are always found to pick the corn and cut the wheat.

There is not always the same spirit in the large cities, partly due to the anonymity of the masses, and partly due to competition. Where most people we meet are strangers, there is a tendency to lock one’s self in his shell. One notices this particularly in driving an automobile. Men who are very gentle at home and kind to friends, become like raging beasts growling at the stupidity of very other driver once they get behind a wheel where anonymity protects them.

Giving is really a divinely appointed way of acknowledging the mercies of God. We have indeed nothing to offer anyway that we have not received, and yet He is pleased to accept our offerings as tokens of our gratitude. Egotism makes the self the center; altruism and charity make the neighbor the center. Only on the principle of giving can the inequalities of the human race be adjusted, can the strong help the weak, and social peace reign among men.

Many a man when he was poor had a heart that was open to every call of pity, but as riches increased he set his heart more upon them. The massing of wealth has a peculiar effect on the soul; it intensifies the desire of getting. What is often lust in youth is avarice in old age. Could they but expose themselves to the great joy of giving and respond to pity’s claim, they would sense the great thrill in benevolence. Great as the pleasure is in receiving, greater is the pleasure in benevolence.

There is an old story about a Scotsman, Lord Braco, who was very rich and miserly and who had great stores of gold and silver in his vaults. One day a farmer said to him: “I will give you a shilling if you will but let me see all your gold and silver.” Braco consented. The farmer gave him the shilling saying: “Now I am as rich as you are. I have looked at your gold and silver, and this all you can do with it.”

There is more happiness in rejoicing in the good of others, than in rejoicing in our own good. The receiver rejoices in his good; the giver in the joy of others and to such comes the peace nothing in the world can give.

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Fulton J. Sheen

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