I tend to give money when people shake a box in front of me but I feel I should organise this a bit more. Would that lose the spontaneity of giving?
Remember that having charitable status in law does not necessarily mean that an organisation is always doing things that exhibit love for God or our neighbour. “Reproductive health” (a pseudonym for providing contraceptions and abortion) and research on human embryos would be considered “charitable” aims in civil law, but are immoral and therefore not truly “loving.” When someone shakes a box in front of you, there is no moral obligation to give money. In fact, it would be better to find out about the “Charity” first in order to be sure that it is charitable as we would understand the word.
Your desire for spontaneity illustrates how we have lost the true meaning of charity. We should not love simply when we feel the urge, but as a part of our Christian lives. Our holidays do not suffer if we plan them carefully beforehand. Our love for others is not necessarily improved by being thought up on the spur of the moment. So I think that your instinct towards a little more organisation is not a bad thing but a recognition that charity to others is something important.
You need to set aside some money to support the parish that you use for Mass. The money that you put in the collection should be a considered part of your income: gift-aided if appropriate, and made by a banker’s order if you use that method of payment for other things such as gas, electricity or your mobile phone tariff. Then you can have the fulfilling task of looking at a number of other charities and choosing a few to support, especially if they uphold moral values that are compromised in the world.
If you arrange your charitable giving in this way, you will have taken care to use your surplus wealth conscientiously. You can always re-examine how much of your income you should give, but you can peacefully walk past charity muggers without having to feel guilty.
Catholic Dilemmas column published in the Catholic Herald
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