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Expert Answer Forum

by Catherine Frakas 08 Jun 2002

Spiritual Events QUESTION from Thomas Hensgens March 3, 1999 Dear John-Paul,
Finally, someone to talk to and ask questions. I cannot find a priest in the whole diocese to talk to. Sad.
About two years ago, while in Mass, I recieved a strong thought. Maybe infused knowledge. Donate land to a good orthodox Catholic order to establish a monastary, or semenary. After all this time, I have yet to even get to second base with any order.
Today there is no trust. Priest think I'm crazy to want to do this. Fear has replaced trust.
I am telling you this because maybe you would have some insight or advise. Maybe you could offer direction. I get only about one reply to this question in twenty. That is a very bad ratio.
It is funny how God works. After discernment over time, I realize that he gave me the thought, but not the answer. He gives the idea, but not the proceedure or the knowledge as to how to proceed. He plants the desire, but not the direction.
I do not disagree with his ways, I just find them facinating.
Thanks, Thomas
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius on March 6, 1999 Dear Thomas:
I am sorry you feel there is no one to talk to in your diocese. We will pray for you.
As to the inspiration you received to donate land to a religious order, that is a very generous thing to do. You are to be commended for your generosity.
A couple things come to mind about your experience. One is the issue of God’s will. Sometimes others must confirm when we feel it is God’s will for us to do something. If God is calling us to give, usually that calling is confirmed by God bringing to us a person to receive our gift. If a receiver never comes it might be prudent to consider that your thought to give away the land was misinterpreted and that God is calling you to do something else with it. Perhaps He wants you to sell the land and give the money to a religious community? Who knows? The point is that there are times when our inspirations must be confirmed by others before we can truly say it is God’s will.
Or, another possibility is that God wishes to teach you patience and perseverance, and that someday you will find a community who will accept the land.
As for why you get so little response there are several possibilities. One is that you sent your notice (I did receive one from you) written in all capital letters. Many people, including myself, will avoid reading any email written in capital letters. There are a couple of reasons for this:
First, reading mail in all capital letters is hard on the eye. People like myself often read hundreds of emails per day. Thus it does make a difference.
Second, and I do not imply in any way that what I am about to say applies to you, but when one is involved in the Internet in a professional way we come to see trends and commonalties. Experienced Internet people have observed that when people are trying to sell them something or convince them of something and do it using all capital letters, it is often the case that the person is not emotionally balanced.
I know that sounds odd, but it is the impression. If you wish your offer to be taken seriously, you need to write a professionally composed letter – a business-style letter – that explains what it is your are proposing. This letter also needs to be uplifting and positive, not complaining or negative about how people have ignored your offer. Being negative in a letter like this is the surest way have people ignore it.
Another reason that you may find it hard to find responses is that most religious communities already have their facilities, or are not interested in moving to the location of your property.
Another factor is that communities that might be looking for property may not have the resources to develop the property, especially from scratch. If your property is properly zoned for development, it can cost, for example, as much as $15,000 per person to install a septic system. Plus the costs of building houses and other buildings.
There are many factors that are possible.
I have not looked at your proposal. I do have it in my inbox. Our community, the Legion of St. Michael, is interested in locating property, but that depends upon many things: what diocese it is in, whether it is developed or not, etc. etc. We would prefer a developed property that already contains a house and several out buildings – like an old farm.
Our community could have an interest in your property, I don’t know. I will read your letter – even though it is in all capitals – and see what you have to offer.
But one of the options I think you should consider is selling the property and giving the proceeds to a religious community. Often cash is more needed than property. Or cash is needed to find just the right property in the just the right diocese. I know that our community would certainly be interested in sufficient capital for us to locate just the right property in just the right diocese. Many other emerging communities would feel the same way I believe.
The bottom line, however, is that you are to be commended for your generosity. And if giving this property away to a community doesn’t work out, maybe God is really asking you to do something else with it.
God Bless.
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