Margherita rediscovers the essence of Charitable Work through her experience of proposing it to the Knights.
“Why do we do this work?” I was busy and tired when I asked this question to Fr. Roberto just a week before starting the Charitable Work with the Knights, 5-8 grade children who are invited to grow in familiarity with each other and with Jesus by following the charism of Fr. Giussani. The simplicity of his reply surprised and moved me: “We do it for Jesus.”
Before this conversation, I had not actually desired to start Charitable Work for at least two years. A few years ago I would volunteer from time to time in the cafeteria at my kids' school, but the pandemic changed everything. As the world shut down, so too did any hope of Charitable Work. An opportunity to volunteer, however, came last Advent. The Franciscan Daughters of Mary in Covington, Kentucky were in need of helpers to prepare large bags of wonderful gifts for the poor children in their neighborhood. I went there with my kids along with my friend, Simona, and her son, Davide. The experience was so good that when my daughter’s teacher asked her what her favorite memory of 2020 was, she said, “Helping the nuns!” However, for many different reasons, we never went to help the Sisters again. Beneath all of the busyness of life and the uncertainty of the pandemic, my desire for Charitable Work was hidden.
This Fall, though, something changed – I was provoked. I was talking with friends in the community and someone expressed the desire to do some kind of Charitable Work with the Knights. I recognized my own desire in her desire, and I decided to act on it. I had in mind a place called Matthew 25 Ministries, a large non-profit organization in Cincinnati, OH that collects, sorts, and ships donations both nationally and internationally during natural disasters. Everything easily fell into place. We decided to go the first Saturday of every month, made the reservations for two hours in the afternoon, and when Matthew 25 Ministries asked for the name of our group, we just put down, “The Knights!”
I wanted to live those two hours a month fully, and I wanted the kids to live the work fully. Since I could not achieve this on my own, I called Fr. Roberto. That call was so simple and so surprising. “Why do we do this work?” I asked him. “We do it for Jesus,” he said. “Everything that we do for Jesus is great and will never be forgotten. We want to help each other in training ourselves to see. It’s like when you exercise: the first time it seems too hard, and it requires a lot of effort, but after a while, you become more of an 'expert'. It’s the same with charity: the more we do it, the more it becomes part of us! In front of Jesus, there are no little things: everything is great and will never be forgotten.”
I never understood Charitable Work in that simple yet true way. Those five little words–We do it for Jesus–have resounded in my heart since that call. Not only do I hear them on the first Saturday of the month when we go sorting forty boxes of t-shirts for the poor, but I also hear them every evening when I pick up toys from the floor and every night when my little daughter screams and cries for no reason. Again and again, I do it for Jesus.
I am surprised, too, by how others have become involved in the work. Anna and Margo, two of my daughter's friends from the neighborhood, have happily joined us. Some parents, who had been simply dropping their kids off, have also begun to join us in the work. One mom even invited another family that does not yet participate in the Knights, and the mother of the family came with her twelve-year-old son and worked so hard!
We do it for Jesus. He is the reason why we do the work. And He is the reason why we pray the Angelus before the work and why we pray the Memorare at the end. We want to grow in charity. We want to learn, like Mary, to do everything for Jesus!
Margherita, Cincinnati, OH