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  • Deacon Dan Wright serves the Diocese of Austin, Texas. His work outside the parish is as a special education teacher serving students with significant cognitive disabilities.



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« Taking Time to Stop During Fall | Main | A Stone from the Mountain »

November 26, 2007



Thank you, DDW. To give all we have (not necessarily money) is to do what Jesus did. Francis, too. I've rarely done so. But I'd like to. Maybe that's the greatest boon to placing oneself at Mary's knee. She can teach us anything, first and foremost charity.

As for tithing, I get a little antsy myself, as the weekly offering isn't necessarily going to the widow or the poor, but to utilities and a housekeeper and a cook and a handyman and other salaries, and for positions that were always volunteer. I know--how thankless am I. But how does it appear to the poorest among us for each priest and Deacon to have his own car, motorcycle, etc. (if not also a whole rectory unto themselves) along with enough food and money for all bills, when the poor struggle so much to even get their child to a dentist or themselves to the food pantry, by bus. They're left to the State too much. I'll let others tackle all that. I have all I can do to just keep myself out of the line for hell.

One pastor suggested as a base that we all give our first hour's pay while dedicating that first hour of our work week in prayer to Him as well. And then, give as we can. That made great sense even to Scrooge, here. My husband gives more than that, and we support the extra envelopes each month, now that we can, and the yearly, seasonal and food pantry things, all freewill offerings for tragedies, and to the program for teens which costs so much but gives them so much after their having nothing for so long. My husband was mightily shocked that a friend of his from church really hates the envelope system, and is rather offended that we "can now contribute online." I quite understand. It seems crazy to me to have such accounts.

Your great aunt sounds like a jewel, and a holy gift.


I hate to sound like a broken record, but I don't understand what that woman and her husband were talking about, Deacon Dan. The Catholic Church doesn't tithe. That is a Protestant concept. (Unless the Catholic Church in the United States has recently added "tithing" to its vocabulary/expectations?) Donations to the Catholic church have always been freewill offerings - whether in baskets, envelopes, automatic debits or online, they are all freewill offerings; the Catholic Church has never, to my knowledge, practised tithing based on income. If this is being started now in certain parishes or certain countries, I don't agree with it, because it is not in our tradition and we should be unified in upholding our traditions.

Deacon DW

Gabrielle, just to get an idea of how widespread the idea of tithing is in US dioceses, I invite you to Google the terms "Catholic tithing." I think you'll be surprised at what you find. You may view my parish's statement here.

Also, the Code of Canon Law, Can. 1262 tells us, "The faithful are to give support to the Church by responding to appeals and according to the norms issued by the conference of bishops."

What do the bishops tell us? In Stewardship a Disciple's Response they say:

"Frequently, in discussions of stewardship (or “sacrificial giving”), reference will be made to “the biblical tithe” (giving 10 percent of income) and other norms that could provide helpful guidelines for generous giving. As disciples of Jesus, each of us has a responsibility to support the Church and to contribute generously to the building up of the Body of Christ. The emphasis in the bishops’ pastoral, Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response, is not on “tithing” (giving a fixed percent of income), but on giving according to our means. In many ways, this is a far more challenging norm. It challenges us to be good stewards not only in how much we give away, but in what we do with all our resources.

Even in light of the above statement it appears that in many places tithing, in the sense of giving percentages, is becoming part of the language and the norm. I think it's worth further discussion.


There is just one little church in a poor town I've visited, in which I've seen they don't even pass a collection basket. There is a free-standing container, unobtrusive (if bolted to the floor, I hope) that says in small letters "Donations welcomed." That is also where two Masses were said M-F -- one at 8 am, and one at 6 pm, for the working souls who'd otherwise have missed Mass. There was also a Sat. morn Mass as well as vigil Mass later, and 2 or 3 Masses every Sunday.

One priest. Alone. Our beloved Fr. B.

But to get back to tithing, what to do? It's not an outrageous amount, yet we begin to own the Church in that very way, and then the Church begins to own things... It's no wonder to me that Americans think of the Church as a corporation from which this one or that one can be fired, rather than as a family. We even document those who come for donated food -- which we didn't do before the USDA donated food to be donated. Ugh.

Deacon DW

It's no wonder to me that Americans think of the Church as a corporation

It's interesting that you mention this because my diocese has recently incorporated all of its parishes.


I am of the firm belief that we MUST return to the Lord a generous part of our bounty as a display of gratitude towards the one from whom all good things flow. Period. It does not have to be entitled "tithe" to be a tithe. Sometimes tithing is anonymous -between God and giver - but always it is prayerful. It is simply a humble commitment from the heart, as part of "me" gives back to him. Sometimes it is a sacrifice, other times social justice - but always it is out of love.


Of course I believe we all have a responsibility to "support the Church and to contribute generously to the building up of the Body of Christ", monetarily and in every other way. But I want to give out of love, as ebh says. I don't like the sound of "tithing", not only because it has never been the philosophy of the Catholic Church, but also because to me it has an underlying message for the giver - it smacks of the horrendous gospel of prosperity (which also has never been Catholic), rather than love.


How so, DDW? Is the Diocese giving up its tax exempt status? I'm presuming you mean something apart from "clustering" (or twinning, as our Pastor calls it) as we are doing here due to lack of enough priests. It is estimated that within 5 years (IF we're lucky enough to stave it off), we'll have 2 priests for 3 (really 4) parishes; 2 priests for 4000 families. We're trying to proactively arrange for this eventuality by discussing which church/es and their rectory(ies) shall close. Money is a moot point, now. Manpower is the problem.

Gabrielle, I hear ya. I am reminded of the message I found within Peter's having tried to shield Jesus' holy honor by wanting to pay the mandatory Temple tax himself, but not wanting to leave Jesus out of it, yet not knowing how to broach the subject. Imagine the Temple taxing its God!! Well, anyway, that is when Jesus told Peter it would not come from Christ's holy labor, but would honor Peter's own career as fisherman! He told Him to go fishing and that he would find a coin large enough for the both of them to donate -- in the first fish's mouth. :-) Ah, that Jesus. He always rendered unto God that which was God's, but not at the poor's expense.

Deacon DW

ebh-thanks for your comment. Scripture teaches us that God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:7), therefore you are correct that giving must be done from love--whether it is called tithing, or annual giving, or stewardship, or even if done anonymously.

Deacon DW

How so...Is the Diocese giving up its tax exempt status...?

Sorry that I don't have something I can point you to for the Diocese of Austin; however, parish incorporation is happening all across the country for several sound reasons. You can click here for a FAQS page for the Archdiocese of Detroit on parish incorporation, which to a great degree may shed light in a general fashion on "Why?"

Deacon DW

Gabrielle-true, the gospel of prosperity--that being prosperous somehow proves God's favor, and the way to win it is through tithing--is not sound teaching.

I think it's too bad that the idea of tithing carries that association because it is a rather recent association arising from well-meaning (often so anyhow) people who were in error. The truth is that tithing--giving a 10th of one's income--is a biblical-based idea. The document I liked to above, "Stewardship: A Disciples Response," clearly sets the tithing of treasure in orthodox Christian terms.

However, if you want to avoid the term tithing so as not to convey something erroneous I doubt that anyone will find fault with you.


Note to myself: Deacon Dan has linked to an 82-page document. Think of something really good for April Fool's Day. Perhaps with the cooperation of Mrs. Deacon Dan. :)



(Thank you, DDW)

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