Wednesday, May 30, 2007

"God will provide"

A blogger posted the following: “Does tithing include time, talent & treasure(money)? How should a Catholic Christian distribute treasure? We help support 2 families who live below the poverty income level (groceries, rent money, clothing). They have fallen into hard times due to illness and the other family -dad desertion. If we continue to help these families, we feel like our tithing seems too minimal. Is our first priority to give a certain percentage to the church and then help others? We live on a budget and we are not sure what to do.......If we had more funds, we could do it all and still pay our bills. Yet we must apportion the funds. What is the right way to do it?”

Great question, blogger, and great job!! Tithe means literally “one-tenth”, and usually refers to the percentage of one’s income that is offered to God through the Church. One of the primary foundations for tithing is found in Genesis 14:20 where Abram gave “a tenth of everything” to the priest, Melchizedek. The letter to the Hebrews confirms the significance of this account: “see how great he is to whom the patriarch ‘Abraham gave a tenth’ of his spoils” (7:4). There are many other biblical references to tithing. I found an online article which lists many of them; please click on the title of this post to view the article.

There are other spiritual and practical points about tithing in the article that are helpful, especially in answering the questions of the blogger. There is also a workbook that I haven’t read but which received good reviews from a solid Catholic newspaper. “The Catholic Answers Guide to Family Finances” by Philip Lenahan “helps people build their finances on a foundation of faith” (National Catholic Register, Feb ‘05).


I remember reading that Catholics give about 1% of their gross income to the Church; Protestants give about twice as much. Some people view their children’s tuition to Catholic schools as part of tithing, so that percentage would go up if that is to be factored in. I remember what Fr. Wells once said: ‘if every Catholic gave 3% of their income, Catholic education would be free’. The point is that we should give to the Church in generosity and trust. If we gave more generously, the Church would then be more able to pool our donations and provide more adequate services, one of which would be free education in our schools.

During the five years that I was working in sales, I abided by the old formula that Cardinal Hickey once proposed: 5% (of gross income) to the parish, 4% to charities, and 1% to the Cardinal’s Appeal (which provides for local Catholic charities). Obviously, I didn’t have children for whom I needed to provide (but was thinking at that time that I might be preparing to raise a family in the future). I made good money, but not huge money. But, during the time I tithed and through God’s generosity, I was able to buy a house, invest in mutual funds, and put away money for retirement. The old adage that “God is never outdone in generosity” was a recurring thought during those days, especially.

I really do believe that the more we give, the more we receive. It’s kind of like keeping holy the Sabbath: people who work only six days in order to rest on the Sabbath are usually more productive than when they worked seven days. It’s the same with tithing: people who have increased their giving have found more financial prosperity than before. A big part is that God rewards generosity (he does offer investment returns of thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold!). But, another big part is the whole idea of prioritizing our expenses so that we are good stewards of all that God has given us. In other words, we eliminate expenses which really aren’t necessary and don’t work toward building up the Kingdom.

Please think back to the story of the widow who gave two coins. She gave all that she had; the rich people gave from their surplus. She gave when it hurt to give; they gave what was comfortable to give. Each one of us can ask ourselves, ‘do I give when it hurts to give or am I only giving what is comfortable to give?’ We probably do more of the latter than the former because we want to be “financially secure”. But, when we, as Abraham taught us, trust that “God will provide” and give to Him even when it hurts, we find something more meaningful than financial security: spiritual, moral, and personal security.

25 Comments:

At 11:48 AM, Anonymous Tom said...

I remember what Fr. Wells once said: ‘if every Catholic gave 3% of their income, Catholic education would be free’.

I'd take that deal in a heartbeat.

 
At 12:48 PM, Anonymous mindy said...

Some (usually non-prac. Catholics) say the church is about money- wanting all that we have. Some say the church promotes virtue in poverty and evil in wealth. I disagree. God wants us to prosper. In fact, He teaches us to prosper. The church reinforces what God wants for us. If we believe that we reap what we sow, than if we give so that others may prosper, how can we not think that prosperity would be offered back?

There is a book about Christian wealth (the name escapes me) that talks about tithing as planting financial seeds. When you give to others, you are helping their
prosperity grow. That act is like sowing you own financial seeds. Continued good acts nuture the seeds so you harvest is full.

Guidelines are useful as long as they still produce sacrifice. There are those in this world who have so much, and, yes 5% of their income may be a huge amount, but if they don't "feel" any sacrifice or they spend a significant amount more on something trivial, than does it fullfill the purpose of tithing? When giving in any way (money, time, talent), I think feeling a little "pinch" is a good thing.

 
At 2:28 PM, Anonymous Kat said...

Some of us are still working on getting over bitterness towards the church... so what I can donate financially tends to go to various charities instead.

 
At 2:34 PM, Anonymous tom said...

If we believe that we reap what we sow, than if we give so that others may prosper, how can we not think that prosperity would be offered back?

True, but a) we'd better watch out that we don't wind up giving so that we may prosper; and b) the prosperity offered back may not be what we think it will be.

 
At 3:07 PM, Anonymous mindy said...

Tom-
I agree that prosperity (sometimes even in ways that we don't initially even welcome) can come in many forms and giving should be for giving sake. I guess my point was more that sometimes we worry we may need what we are asked to give- whether that be financially or personally, and, therfore, fail to do so. I have experienced a variety of results from ways I've chosen to give, and ultimately I think they are all gifts (and yes- several unexpected, even initially unwanted ones)for me.

And Kat- you give of yourself in numerous ways (especially here) for which many are grateful.

 
At 4:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Attitude


The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.

Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think, say, or do.

It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company, a church, a home.

The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.

We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.

I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you. We are in charge of our attitudes.

 
At 4:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone sent me this. Really makes you stop and think.



I was shocked, confused, bewildered**
**as I entered Heaven's door,**
**Not by the beauty of it all,**
**by the lights or its decor.**


**But it was the folks in Heaven**
**who made me sputter and gasp--**
**the thieves, the liars, the sinners,**
**the alcoholics, the trash.**


**There stood the kid from seventh grade**
**who swiped my lunch money twice.**
**Next to him was my old neighbor**
**who never said anything nice.**


**Herb, who I always thought**
**was rotting away in hell,**
**was sitting pretty on cloud nine,**
**looking incredibly well.**


**I nudged Jesus, "What's the deal?**
**I would love to hear Your take.**
**How'd all these sinners get up here?**
**God must've made a mistake.**


**And why's everyone so quiet,**
**so somber? Give me a clue."**
**"Hush, child," said He. "They're all in shock.**
**No one thought they'd see you."**

**Judge NOT...***

~Be kind. We're all in this together.~

 
At 5:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mindy,

Someone asked Mother Teresa how much should I give? She answered (not an exact quote) "You give until it hurts and then give some more." I have always found that statement very inspiring.

 
At 5:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon,

Being one that has been negatively judged in the past I appreciate your posting.

 
At 5:40 PM, Blogger fran said...

Love the "attitude" commentary, especially at this time of day when I am hit with assisting with homework, making dinner and getting to a ball field for a softball game - all simultaneously! Really have to keep mine in check!

Regarding money matters and God's goodness.....
After we purchased our current home we were essentially broke. As we began to stabilize financially, we started receiving requests for monetary support from family for various needs.

This caused some marital tension, as my husband and I did not see eye to eye on this matter. While discussing the situation with a parish priest, he simply asked, "Do you have the money?" I replied, "Yes." He followed with, "Send the money."

The money sent then, has come back many times over in a variety of ways, but especially in the form of unexpected scholarships my daughter has received to both high school and college.

Great words of advice, then and now.

 
At 7:25 PM, Anonymous Markov said...

szI had joined a church and then left it to come back to the Catholic church. One of their members is an ex-Catholic. He doesn not believe in the Eucharist and that saddens me. I spoke to him today about the Ecuharist using FG's advice and he just didn't get it or more like didn't want to. He wants me to join the Mormons and I told him I didn't and would be ready to relinquish the friendship if the pressure or the asking didn't stop. The rest of the family are really devout Catholics who are very distraught over his leaving the church. Anything else I can do or should I just pray?

 
At 8:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

FG,

I want to thank you for letting me part of this blog. I have learnt a lot and have remained in the church because of your testimony to the Mass, Eucharist and so much more. I am leaving the blog as we have only one computer and my husband will need it for work.

Thanks again.

Bye

 
At 10:07 PM, Anonymous Kat said...

Anon with no computer...

I have been trying to find someone to take my computer... I literally have one too many. It is a desktop with monitor keybord and mouse.... contact FG for my e-mail and I am more then willing to get my personal info off and give it to you. IT is a windows xp system, it doesnt have ms word or anything but does have a free word processer etc so if you want it let me know, FG already has permission to give out my email. I hope you see this.

 
At 10:29 PM, Blogger Fr Greg said...

Markov, yes, it's time to pray. Pray your rear end off for him! Pray, fast / offer small sacrifices or mortifications. You're probably the first person who has presented the teaching on the Eucharist to him in the way that you did. My guess is that the conversation has just begun; he'll come back at some point to ask you about it. In other words, he has encountered a believer in the Eucharist, and this will get him thinking. I would imagine that it's very hard for people to permanently walk away from the Eucharist when they realize from what / whom they are walking away. The common belief is that many of the people who walked away from Christ in John 6 were among the 3000 "who were added that day" (Pentecost).

Last Anon, thank you for visting the site when you did. I truly hope this isn't goodbye, and that you will take Kat up on her offer. My guess is that it's God offer through her. He knows, as we do, that you are a valuable member of our community, and we want you to stay!

 
At 8:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

C'mon. Is it really fair to attribute the cost of Catholic education to the stinginess of parents and parishoners?

 
At 9:07 AM, Blogger fran said...

Uh-oh, "stingy," may be a tad strong on the adjective choice.

Most likely, each family feels they are giving (to the Church) what they are capable of giving, in addition to tuition costs which only continue to rise.

Once you add Catholic high school tuition costs to Catholic elementary school costs, it may be necessary for some families to make adjustments in what they can contribute.

 
At 9:56 AM, Anonymous tom said...

I'm sure a lot of Catholics do feel their tuition bills count toward their duty to help the poor.

I'm not so sure the poor feel the same way, though, and Jesus is pretty clear about whose feelings His Father is concerned with.

 
At 10:03 AM, Blogger fran said...

To add to my previous post -

It is also important to re-evaluate, from time to time, how we support the church financially, and perhaps "kick it up a notch," in terms of our generosity.

 
At 10:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But doesn't the fact that we send our kids to Catholic school count for anything? We send them there to further their Catholic formation,which hopefully spreads the faith throughout society when they are adults and have children of their own. And please notice the number of parents who are at school every day volunteering and therefore supporting the school and its programs, many of which have a religous purpose and many of which would not happen if parent support were absent. Please stop blaming us. It creates such bad will. I'm not a lone nut.

 
At 10:41 AM, Blogger fran said...

No blame is being cast. All of the things you mention are indeed important for a school, a parish, or a family to function and they are indeed appreciated.

Just saying, for those who are doing what they are capable of - terrific!! Keep up the good work. For those who could do a bit more, well.......

 
At 11:33 AM, Blogger fran said...

OMT-

Myself included!! :)

 
At 12:40 PM, Anonymous mindy said...

I think it's good to keep asking for more from the parish (not JUST $$, but if the $$ is needed...) b/c if we don't stretch, we don't grow. Both FG and FM have said it countless times, it's about sacrifice. In addition, voluteerism isn't only important, but neccessary, for catholic schools usually operate in the red. So, if parents weren't there to help, I'd imagine our kids might go without certain things. I look at that as my responsibility, kind of like providing my kids with a lunch each day (I bake a batch of brownies for an event so the school can buy another white board). I don't really look at those things as the way I "give" to the church.

 
At 1:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what is "OMT"?

 
At 1:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That 3% thing would mean that our "tuition bill" would basically be $3000.00. Tom's right- whatta deal!!! Sign me up!

 
At 1:20 PM, Blogger fran said...

OMT = "One More Thing"

 

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