Why give?

My Italian grandmother had a saying that, loosely translated, means, “Your table can seat as many as you care to invite.”

I couldn’t help remembering her when I read, A Place at the Table, by the U.S. Catholic Bishops. If your holiday meals are anything like ours, there is usually enough food left over to feed a few extra people.

Grandma was always prepared for last minute guests and tried to never let anything go to waste. She was a cook with credibility, a rather stout woman, who always kissed the bread and said a prayer before throwing it away if by chance it had grown too stale to eat. It was, after all, a sin to waste God’s gifts.

If your mail is anything like ours, it contains more than a few requests for money (not counting bills) every day — including Sunday’s church envelopes. And if your response is anything like mine, it ranges from annoyed and frustrated, to overwhelmed by all the pressing unmet needs.

My challenge here is to get you to pause before you dismiss yet another request with, “I just can’t give to everything.”

Please consider this: Would you invite at least one extra person to join you this Mother’s Day? Would you set an extra place at your table? Make a reservation for one or two more? Then, would you calculate what that would cost, and share it with Catholic Charities? Would you do that on May 11 for the annual Catholic Charities Mother’s Day Appeal? Would you do that small gesture once a month?

Many of the people that Catholic Charities serves are invisible to the larger community, but they are surely present, and they are Christ among us. If we fail to see Christ as the stranger and welcome him, as the hungry and feed them, then we fail to heed our Gospel call.

Please join me this Mother’s Day and answer the call.

Dorothy Grillo is director of Social Ministry for the Diocese of Charleston.