Teething on tithing.

I don’t see what further good will be achieved by me talking about what a disgraceful and shameful thing it is that we have eighty politicians who last night chose to fly in the face of right reason. I’ve said it here and here. Others have said and will say more. I’ll pray like everything depends on God, and work like everything depends on me (Saint Augustine, I can’t wait for the movie about his life!)

So other than that I’m keen to hear what you think about this blog entry (link) from Msgr. Charles Pope on the Archdiocese of Washington blog (I ALWAYS light up when I see that, because my brain reads “Wellington”…)

I think he offers a pretty convincing case for practicing biblical tithing, and preempts off my usual attempts to rationalise away from giving at least a set ten percent of my income to my parish. Of course tithing should be kept discreet, and not solely motivated from pride, desire for material return etc…

 

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    Comments: 15

    1. Chris Sullivan August 30, 2012 at 7:35 am

      Shame on the 80 MPs who voted for gay marriage. But kudos to the 40 who voted against, resisting huge pressure to do so !

      And kudos also to NZ First, the only party to vote en bloc against gay marriage. My wife says she’ll be voting for them next election.

      I think the Church needs to up its campaign on this issue with a more detailed pastoral letter from the bishops answering the 50 ministers and outlining the fulness of the Catholic position (which wasn’t expressed in the first letter), with meetings to explain and discuss our position, with preaching at Sunday Masses, and with encouragement for Catholics to take political action in defense of marriage eg writing to MPs, signing petitions, joining protest activities, and making sure the new law does not criminalize ministers who refuse to perform same sex marriage (there is a huge potential threat to civil liberties and religious freedom in the Wall bill).

      This is huge opportunity and a teaching moment to explain the great beauty of the Catholic sacrament of marriage and we would do well to engage it fully.

      God Bless

    2. Chris Sullivan August 30, 2012 at 7:38 am

      On tithing, that has never been the Catholic position because we understand that would impose great hardship on poor families.

      In the OT, tithing funded a range of social welfare activities to feed the poor etc. These activities are now funded by state taxation, the burden of which on families needs to be taken into account.

      OTOH, there is certainly scope for more wealthy Catholics to increase their financial contribution to the Church. And for many to increase their time contribution, although not at the expense of family time.

      God Bless

    3. Chris Sullivan August 30, 2012 at 8:42 am

      An interesting case here where a few students and a teacher contest the Catholic position upheld by a Catholic school principal :

      http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/catholic-college-teacher-suspended-in-gay-marriage-row-5052167

      Another indication of the challenge for the Church to better articulate her position.

      God Bless

    4. Chris Sullivan August 30, 2012 at 8:49 am

      For those of us who thought that redefining marriage would end up legalising polygamy was just a talking point – in Brazil it’s becoming reality.

      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/deaconsbench/2012/08/threes-company-in-brazil-with-civil-union-between-three-people/

      Add that to Maurice Williamson’s support for a man marrying his dog and the person in the USA who wanted to marry herself and the total social confusion about marriage becomes daily clearer.

      God Bless

    5. John Jensen August 30, 2012 at 9:26 am

      On tithing, I agree with Deacon Chris that it’s a personal decision, and not one to be made lightly.

      That said, my wife and I started tithing over forty years ago. We have no money now :-) – but haven’t gone without any meals.

      But my view is, again, related to what Deacon Chris said about OT tithing – it wasn’t just money in the offering plate (well, in most cases it wasn’t money at all, of course – because they didn’t have basically a money economy). And nor do I calculate my ‘tithe’ in some very precise way – but it comes out to about a tenth. But I include in my ‘tithing’ budget:

      - money spent on things like retreats (in the OT, I think every third year you spent part of your tithe to go up to Jerusalem for a religious festival – and also to spend it on things like ‘strong drink’ that were mentioned :-))

      - money spent on some religious education for my children

      - probably other things I haven’t thought of

      Money into the offering plate amounts to about a little less than half my ‘tithe.’ Of the rest, a lot of it is contribution to this or that, but not all ‘religious’ contributions – helping people, sometimes, whatever.

      I think there have been discussions of tithing amongst persons of a kind of ‘fundamentalist’ mind-set that make it a lot more rigid than I think God intends. And, indeed, there have been persons of a ‘health-and-wealth’ mentality who claim that if you tithe, God will make you rich – not only is that not necessarily so, I don’t think one should expect it, nor, obviously, is that a satisfactory motivation for the practice.

      C. S. Lewis says somewhere – perhaps in Mere Christianity – that giving is something that should be somehow more than you are just quite comfortable with. That is, perhaps, as good a rule as any.

      jj

    6. John Jensen August 30, 2012 at 9:34 am

      PS – also, I think we always think, in modern times, of tithing as money. It need not be limited to that, and nor, I think, need it be limited to giving material objects. Time can be a great thing to give. At the moment I have a job, but when the time comes that I can no longer work, and am dependent on the tender mercies of the New Zealand superannuation scheme, I will have precious little money to give – but if I can do something for someone – even just go sit with someone and let the person talk – I think that is in the same spirit of the thing.

      jj

    7. Benedicta August 30, 2012 at 12:02 pm

      We give quite a bit. It wouldn’t be 10% (are we talking pre tax or after tax?). Probably more like 5% after tax with quite a number of one off sizable donations to some religious. The point is its committed but I don’t want to think about it or measure it in any way.

      I don’t think we should give a cost of a latte and leave things at that.

      But also our whole society is structured differently now than in the Bible. Perhaps according to scripture the taxes we pay amount to usury? I think so.

      The thing is to pray about it and bring all you have into your prayer life and take it from there….that is the best way I think.

      I have been amongst Christians who formally tithe and it was an uncomfortable experience with wealthier ones giving more which was known and in a way it divided them all into wealthy and poor. (Or as they read it committed and uncommitted).

      I know of one lady who literally gave everything she owned to a Christian group and was penniless and homeless and totally bitter. Going from Christian community to another Christian community she would be told that God had already blessed her with what she had already received and shouldn’t have given it all away! But her pastor had been happy to take it regardless.

      So corruption abounds.

      What on earth is a teacher in a Catholic school going to the media over a principal endorsing Catholic doctrine in a newsletter?

    8. Opthomistic August 30, 2012 at 12:20 pm

      I agree that we should not require tithing like some communities do, resulting in pressure on poor families.

      Msgr. Pope quotes the Gospel according to Matthew:

      Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.

      I’ve often let myself off the hook with the justice and mercy and faith thing. In fact I was surprised to see that last phrase there, maybe I had deliberately or subconsciously been over-looking it!

      I think tithing, if done, should be secret, and done from the heart.

    9. Opthomistic August 30, 2012 at 12:21 pm

      Could “the others” not refer to tithing, but to other people to whom you ought to show justice etc… to?

    10. Don the Kiwi August 30, 2012 at 12:42 pm

      In many ways, we have abdicated the subsidiarity of our faith to socialistic governments of our day. The emphasis that the Church has placed on social justice over the past few decades, and support given to socialist govts. like Labour for higher taxes to subsidise the poor which has led to benefit dependency in our society, has been very much a negative. Fortunately, govt. taxation over the past few years has shown a decline in rates, so this in turn should enable people to retain more of their own money, and so the requirement to give to the appropriate agencies becomes more possible – the likes of Caritas, our own diocesan bishops fund etc. But one has to be very selective in sorting out a charity nowadays. Many charities spend up to 70% of the funds donated on “administration” – which is effectively jobs for the boys. Also, organisations such as Amnesty International and some branches of CARE support abortion and contraception programs sponsored by the UN – arguably the most corrupt organisation in the history of the world. Sticking to our own Catholic charirites, and to our own parishes is the safest way to ensure that the funds are used most efficiently and properly.

      For myself, I have costs toward my diaconate studies and support of local RCIA which costs me around $60 p/week. As a pensioner with a mortgage, the budget is very tightly stretched, and I do regular part time work, plus odd building jobs to supplement my income, otherwise I’d have to sell the house, which would be no solution really – you have to live somewhere, and there is a cost. And of course, my good wife also works – I couldn’t do it on my own.

      WRT our politicans, I also consider their actions shameful, and will be re-aligning my political affiliations if this bill eventually passes into law; remember that this is only the first reading, and many vote for the first reading to discuss and debate the issues, Time will tell. There have been several posts on Kiwiblog over the past few days which have sparked very lively – sometimes acrimonious – debate on SSM. We can discuss with others, and pray.

    11. Chris Sullivan August 30, 2012 at 1:41 pm

      If one factored in ALL the financial contributions as John does, then I guess we also would be around the 10% (have you seen the cost of new missals, or vestments ?).

      Deacons are expected to give around 10 hours per week (all up). In my case that would probably only cover time attending Masses. So my time would probably be above 10%.

      And I have a family to feed, educate, house, spend time with, a full time job, etc.

      God Bless

    12. Benedicta August 30, 2012 at 5:46 pm

      I think tithing is a set amount you contribute directly to the Church. I might add that I serve in our local parish but our tithe money goes to other areas of the Church. If you don’t serve some of what you tithe perhaps should go directly to your parish family…but the Church has many areas with particular missionary aspects.

      This is the best way, it seems to me, to approach tithing or gifting. Follow your heart in prayer…perhaps something in the Church is something you really want to give to as well as your parish…don’t limit the horizons.

      If you give say $5 a week to the Church…take that amount to prayer and increase it a little…only a little. Whatevery you think but don’t make it a much larger amount just a little. Stick with that new amount and be faithful to it. Take it to prayer. This new amount might be it for a few weeks or a few months. Just stick with it and prayer about it. When you get the desire increase it a little again…stick with it…be faithful. Just follow this pattern you will know how much is enough.

      Remember God has ‘all the time’ and actually doesn’t need your money…others do, in the Church and in your family. So the most important outcome is that you have come to a peaceful place with God about what you give and that most importantly you can be faithful to that amount. The reason you need to be faithful is because others depend on it.

      I think the greatest benefit for the one who gives is the renewed relationship…God comes into your daily choices in a new way. He comes into your work in a new way…and your leisure. Your choices are more intimately connected in a real way with God’s work…in you and others.

      Other opportunities come along as extras and what I find is that there is a lot more joy in deciding to do those things as we can.

      We could become poor at any time. Gifting makes you always aware that material things can’t be held.

    13. Von Balthebrand September 1, 2012 at 9:19 am

      Really interesting topic. Unfortunately I don’t have anything really to add to the above comments. I would be interested to know what people’s views are on the issue of filing a donations return with their annual tax return, and thus getting the donations rebate.
      On the one hand I think that if it means that one can get a tax refund, then they could use that extra money for some extra tithing.
      But on the other hand we are told to not let our left hand know what our right is giving (Matthew 6:3), and if a donations return is filed then even the state knows how much we are giving.
      Any thoughts on this?

    14. John Jensen September 1, 2012 at 10:06 am

      I would be interested to know what people’s views are on the issue of filing a donations return with their annual tax return, and thus getting the donations rebate.

      I think the question of the tax rebate and the donations are unrelated. Give what you think you ought. If you think you ought to give more, give more. Certainly file the tax rebate form. You should pay your taxes; unless you believe that one charity you should give to is the people of New Zealand via the tax system – you might, I suppose! – you definitely have, I think, a duty not to pay more tax than you owe. If the law says you get a third of your donations back, then that money is not tax that you owe.

      jj

    15. Benedicta September 1, 2012 at 10:54 am

      We file the tax return re the rebate. Its lawful to do so. I think the point is that when you are committed to giving and it has become part of your spirituality other opportunities arise to give also apart from the amount you are committed to.

      So it might come back but it goes out on other things as well.

      Look I think the important thing is just to include it in your prayer life and let it sort itself out. I think the benefits are subtle and sometimes surprising.

      I was listening to Arcbishop Fulton Sheen last night…I have this Friday Happy Hour thing at the moment…Bishy Sheen, a glass of wine and few nibbles! Love it.

      He said that of the many blessings God bestows (intelligence, money and so on) beauty is the one thing that is least returned to Him. So if we are physically beautiful we are most likely to make use of that for our own ends rather than for Gods. Money is often given so there! No great feat!

      There’s a challenge to the young and beautiful (my personal opportunity having been thoroughly wasted – yes I had my admirers!)…give your beauty to God. Try tithing that then! Harder than one could imagine…a whole lifetime of admiration of oneself given up for God (well at least to 50 if you look after yourself…so half a lifetime).

      Bishy Sheen talked about the beautiful airhostess he met to whom he made this suggestion. Two years later she said “What do you want me to do?” He suggested a leper colony in Vietnam where the people had no beauty. She went apparently and it seemed to be her vocation.

      Interesting…money is quite boring really.