Cheeseburger Dreams

I woke up early today to go to work. I needed a few extra hours, so I picked up these short, early shifts a few days this week. Because I woke up early and worked hard for a few hours, I wanted to have a burger for lunch. As I pulled off the highway at the exit where the fast-food joint was, I saw a man sitting on a milk crate on the side of the road with a sign that read,”I’m hungry, and I’m dreaming of a hamburger. Please help make my dream a reality.” When I ordered my food, instead of ordering one of everything that I wanted, I ordered two. I went back, pulled over, and handed him a bag with a bacon cheeseburger and fries inside and a soda.

This interaction was so striking to me because of a quotation that was shared with me a few days ago. St. Basil the Great said this:

“When someone steals another’s clothes, we call them a thief. Should we not give the same name to one who could clothe the naked and does not? The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry; the coat unused in your closet belongs to the one who needs it; the shoes rotting in your closet belong to the one who has no shoes; the money which you hoard up belongs to the poor.”

That quotation, in me, stirs up this desire to make a change in my life to benefit those who are poor or hungry or naked. It urges me to consider how I am wasteful in my life and how I can cut out the unnecessary things that keep me from loving God as fully as I can, as fully as I was made to love Him. So I offer you a challenge: how can you make a change to help those in need. I know I’m still considering what this looks like for me. Don’t expect to come up with the perfect plan over night. Don’t sweat it it you need to tweak your plan to help others a few times to get the balance between your time, energy, and livelihood and helping others. Feel free to email me or comment if you want help talking out what a good plan of sacrificing to help others would look like in your life.

One last thing before this post is over: this marks the start of a new, more consistent year at Contagious Caritas. Charlie and I will be posting weekly, alternating authorship week-to-week. This means that you will read at least one piece from me every two weeks and one from Charlie every two weeks. We are committed to this schedule, and we hope that it will be spiritually fruitful both in our lives and in yours.

My sincerest prayers for you and your family.


Give It Up without Giving Up

Happy to be writing again. Huge thanks to Charlie for picking up some of my slack!

If you ever attended a Catholic school, especially if you ever had religious sisters as teachers, you probably heard the following phrase: “Offer it up!” We were being asked to offer our sufferings or hardships, however small they were, to be united to the suffering of Jesus on the cross. These Christians who encouraged us understood that, because Jesus’s suffering had been redemptive, when we unite our suffering to His through Him, so too our suffering might be redemptive.

It’s a Catholic custom to “give up,” something during the season of Lent (right before Easter). I invite and encourage all of you, Catholic and not, to expand upon this practice. Give something up today, and give something up everyday. It doesn’t have to be something huge. Somebody cut you off in traffic? Instead of tailgating or swearing, offer it up. Feeling tempted to have another cookie (or coffee, or soda, or whatever your vice is)? Consider that something that you give up, a cross you bear, to grow closer to The Lord, and to make your actions meritorious through the goodness of God’s grace.

“Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” That’s what Paul writes in his first letter to the Thessalonians (5:16-18). Christians are called to rejoice not frequently but alwaysto pray not often but constantly, and to give thanks not only sometimes but in all circumstances. Consider adding this sort of sacrifice to your growing prayer life and life of giving thanks to the Lord. IT can bear really great fruit.