Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Ninety-Nine Left Behind

Reflection based on Matthew 18:12-14 (Published in the Advent Magnificat 2003)
            “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray?”
Our Church is blessed by many who consistently and dependably do God’s will every day. They are the ninety-nine sheep, trusted by the Good Shepherd to do His work until He returns.
The obituary of a friend described him as a lifelong “good Catholic.” He was a man of character, who practiced kindness without fanfare. His steadfast faith and charity as a husband, father, soldier and businessman transformed daily tasks into holy works that touched the lives of others.
            For the past eight years, I have volunteered in my parish’s RCIA program, where adults prepare to join the Catholic Church. When I ask what attracts them to Catholicism, they almost always cite the quiet example of a friend, co-worker or family member who is a “good Catholic” in the midst of mundane, everyday responsibilities. They see in this “ordinary” Catholic a solid foundation for growing in holiness, and want that for their own lives.
            Few of us will be called to do spectacular deeds in the name of Christ. However, when we bring Christ to the everyday work we do, we may witness spectacular results.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Gift and Investment of Time

My novel, The Saintmaker, has been receiving some good reviews. Thanks to all who have taken the time to read it.

Time is the greatest gift you can give an author. We don't mind the royalty money, but any good author is driven by love of the written word and the passion to tell a good story. Time is what we pour into our work, and receiving that gift back is the best payoff of all.

The older I get, the more I treasure this gift, or investment, of time. As long as you are healthy, you can make more money. However, we all have a limited amount of time on earth, and none of us know how much we have left. Reading a book is taking a risk and using up something that will run out.

That fact alone makes me SO grateful to anybody who takes the time to read my book. You are giving nine or ten hours of your life to me. Whether you love the book, hate it, or are somewhere in between, that is time you will never get back. Thank you. I hope your time was a good investment.

I tried very hard to write the kind of book I would like to read. I miss the authors I enjoyed, who either passed on or are unable to write any longer. I welcome and encourage other mystery writers, who love the genre and their faith, to join me. Please get writing!

To read a review of The Saintmaker, please see Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Fundraising 101

My day job is to help raise money for a Catholic campus ministry, so the following is influenced by my experience. During this time of year, when we are often inundated with requests to give to worthy causes, I'd like to explain a few things about fundraising that I didn't know before I actually did it for a living.

  • It takes money to make money. As much as I'd love to think that all the world is interested in my worthy cause, if they don't know about what we do and the impact we have on the Church and world, they won't give. Hence, appeal letters, newsletters, websites, etc. Even though we are good stewards, we can't get all this done for free. The real metric isn't how much the organization spends on fundraising, but how much these communications instruments further the mission of the organization.
  • People, rightly so, feel good when they help others. My job is to invite folks to partner with us in the good we do. They, of course, can say "yes" or "no." My job is to merely ask.
  • Some of the most beautiful fundraising instruments are the least effective. I've learned not to go for classy, take-your-breath-away graphics unless they will impact the bottomline. A wonderful example of this principle in action are the tacky, tasteless used car commercials on TV. They work in selling cars, which is what they are meant to do. It's okay that they aren't great art.
  • There is a role for volunteers and a role for paid staff. It is a rare volunteer who is willing to totally take responsibility for a project and meet a hard deadline no matter what. If you find one of them, they are a treasure. The more typical volunteer (and we love them!) wants to help, but they offer this help without the commitment to "own" the results. If you have a project where something needs to be done on time, within a strict budget and done regardless of whether your car is in the shop or your kid is sick, you better have a staff person involved.
  • Finally, we are all in this world together, and there is so much good work to be done. My organization's mission WILL appeal to many, but not all. That's okay. God has a pile of work for each of us to do. Our job is to find this pile and get working!