Friday, May 27, 2005

Ten Percent Off

A conversation I had last week with Justin, one of our great Catholic Student Center alumni seminarians, got me thinking about how many young Catholics today often don't give enough money to the Church. Yes, they are very dedicated and give so much of themselves in many ways, but they're often squimish about handing over money (and I admit that though I do contribute, I don't usually tithe). But the institutional Church cannot function without funds. The electric bill can't get paid, ministries can't be supported, education cannot be given without the financial contribution of the Body of Christ. This sacrifice of one's treasure is an important component of being a member of the Church. As Scott Hahn points out in The Lamb's Supper, the fact that during the Mass the collection is brought up to the altar with the bread and wine during the presentation of the gifts is a very imporant one. We sacrifice financially to offer ourselves more totally in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. And yes, it is supposed to be a sacrifice - it's supposed to hurt a little. We're not supposed to contribute only when we have a little extra money, or when we get that higher-paying job or when we get out of school; we're supposed to do it now.

I was wondering whether to post these thoughts, but then I went to Mass on Tuesday and this was the first reading, from the Book of Sirach:

To keep the law is a great oblation,and he who observes the commandments sacrifices a peace offering. In works of charity one offers fine flour,and when he gives alms he presents his sacrifice of praise. To refrain from evil pleases the LORD, and to avoid injustice is an atonement. Appear not before the LORD empty-handed, for all that you offer is in fulfillment of the precepts. The just
one's offering enriches the altar and rises as a sweet odor before the Most High. The just one's sacrifice is most pleasing, nor will it ever be forgotten. In a generous spirit pay homage to the LORD, be not sparing of freewill gifts. With each contribution show a cheerful countenance,and pay your tithes in a spirit of joy. Give to the Most High as he has given to you, generously,
according to your means.

For the LORD is one who always repays,and he will give back to you sevenfold. But offer no bribes, these he does not accept! Trust not in sacrifice of the fruits of extortion. For he is a God of justice,who knows no favorites.

So, I have a proposition for everyone this week. This Sunday is the glorious Feast of Corpus Christi, when we celebrate that Christ left us the total gift of Himself in the Eucharist. So let us offer something back to Him: Let's actually tithe this week - let's all drop 10 percent of our last paychecks in the collection basket. Don't give the money to some other charity, however worthy it may be. Let's support the Church. And if for some reason we have problems with giving to our own parish, then I suggest the money be sent to Catholic Relief Services, an arm of the USCCB that does amazing work in the world.