Monday, April 9, 2012

The Little, Old Black Lady who Changed My Thinking

Many people complain about the wealth of the Catholic Church.  They argue that the Catholic Church is hypocritical because it would prefer to gather immense wealth rather than help the poor.

In the 1960’s I was a student at CUA, the Catholic University of America in Washington DC.  The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception is adjacent to the CUA campus.  The Basilica’s lowest level has the names of thousands of donors who helped pay for its construction.  The names are literally plated in gold.  The entire building exudes wealth.  I was appalled because across Wisconsin Avenue where the Basilica sits, there were residential neighborhoods along 7th and 8th Streets which were the poorest I had ever encountered.  The contrast was disturbing.  ‘How can so much wealth sit amongst so much poverty?’ was the question in my mind.   

I noticed an elderly black lady who daily trudged from the poverty of 8th Street to the splendor of the Basilica.  Given my disgust with the Catholic Church for being so insensitive to the poor, I approached her one day and asked why she was so drawn to the Basilica.

She answered, ’I may only give a penny, but it is all I have and I give it as a token of my Faith in my Lord.  I want my Lord to have the finest house in the land.’

It was then that I saw the wealth of the Catholic Church in a different light and I am eternally grateful to this little, old lady.  God bless her! 

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