Monday, November 14, 2005

Why Catholics Give

I'm tired of hearing the oft repeated refrain that we Catholics have something to learn about giving from our non-Catholic friends.
Take a look around you, in your city or town and take a good look at all those large Catholic buildings...churches, schools, hospitals, nursing homes, seminaries, religious did they ever get built?
From the generous giving of Catholics.
Now, take another look. How have they been used? Is the giving that built them dried up because many of those who were given so much have taken what was given and tried to go "professional" and make a "profit"? One is likely to take a walk (if they live in the Northern U.S.) among the ruins of Catholicism...abandoned orphanages, closed seminaries, closed religious houses, sacred buildings that now serve as a restaraunt mocking the former building's occupants by having waitresses walk around in short modified friar's habits.
Another meaning of the parable we heard yesterday might be to see the distributor of the cash as the laity and the servants as the servant leaders of the church. What have they done with what has been given? How have they used it?
I still find Catholics to be the most generous givers out there, those who find Catholics aren't giving to their particular church or ministry might want to ask themselves why these generous givers aren't choosing to give to them.


  1. It's true that, working in the Church, you find many, many people who seem to forget that the money that comes into their personal and office budget is the widow's mite that drops into the collection basket. While my personal salary is precisely that, my personal salary, I try to keep in mind that it comes to me through the generosity of my fellow Catholics and that certainly my office budget comes through those same donations. Recycling letters as scratch paper (or coffee cup coasters), turning the lights out when I leave the office - it's all a part of my little bit of stewardship of the resources generously donated to the Church by the faithful.

  2. I can't confirm or deny what you say. What I have often heard though, is that RCs have so many members in their parishes that they can collect a lot of money even if their members aren't particularly good givers. Some smaller congregations in other denominations might have to rely on fewer givers giving more. That's only what I've heard.


  3. I'm in a decent-sized parish, and I'll admit some of the folks are not exactly poor. But sometimes we don't give much, and sometimes...

    Well, the new organ got paid off from Memorial Day to now. It wasn't a cheap organ, either. Everybody was shocked.

  4. The way the inner city churches have closed and abandoned it seems the Catholic parishioners have fled to the suburbs and have taken their contributions with them
    Ed g.

  5. Michael:

    You must give a link to the restaurant with the "friar" outfits. Are you trying to make a point or is there really such a place?

    Your point about the Scripture reading is well taken: and note the failure of Catholics to evangelize too. If the silver talents are to represent faith, we've buried them in Catholic tribalism. If they are money, then I agree that we have misspent them.

    And looking to China and Korea among other places, it seems that the wise investors are the Evangelical Protestants, who have no time to wax philosophical with ecumenism. They're too busy bringing the unbelievers to Jesus Christ.

    When the priests and monks and nuns drop out and the remaining clergy don't evangelize and challenge people to devote themselves to Christ, the natural result is that the monastaries, seminaries, etc. will become vacant buildings. To whom or for what will a Catholic man or woman give that money?

  6. The "giving" that built many of those edifices was religious giving their lives. With labor costs to operate facilities being close to zero, much could be done with the donations of the faithful. In some instances, the faithful gave because a family member was a member of the order that sponsored the facility or the giver was moved by the dedication of the religious who were giving their lives for the cause. In other instances, inheritances of those in religious life may have been used for building and expanding.

  7. The giving that built many of those edifices continues to build those edifices...Saint Meinrad Archabbey has built a very beautiful Monastery, Library and Guesthouse all in the last twenty years...Those who live in Florida are surrounded by beautiful structures that their giving has built in recent years...Catholic give when there is a clear mission and purpose and they give not only cash but they give with their lives.

  8. Good point. I don't know how much EWTN takes in but its a few dollars a year.

    Speaking for my wealthy parish I know that 10% of the parishioners give 90% of the money and 80% give nothing at all...perhaps they are all donating to EWTN?

  9. Try
    I'm not sure what the staff's attire is.

    Chris G

  10. Let's hope Catholics are giving to support EWTN -- I gather they are a bit short right now -- as it does more by way of sound evangelization in one day than what appears to come from the USCCB in a year.

    In my own town I have seen more than one altar (complete with carvings of host and chalice) serving as the cash desk at commercial establishments. At a downtown fish restaurant, the stained glass windows from our former seminary have been installed, and the old wooden communion rail separated the buffet area from the tables. This prompted a local journalist to say, as he stepped to the buffet, "I have a feeling I've eaten here before."

  11. I remember that there was a lot more from the pulpit, almost weekly, back in the '50s, to give and give...lots of reminders. People hated it, but they did need reminders. Parishes were huge. And yes the schools were maintained by free labor teaching. But there still were a lot of expenses on physical plants. My protestant friends had smaller buildings and congregations. They did not necessarily belong to the same "parish" for the decades long attendance that Catholics did. And their giving was often sporadic...not being compelled to attend weekly. Now we have a few of those Crystal Cathedrals and "Six Flags Over Jesus" monuments to giving, but it appears to symbolize more of the externals of the gospel of prosperity or "you can't out give God" mentality.

  12. At this moment I donate some $500/mo to my parish school for my children's education.
    I could send them to public school and lease a Mercedes.
    I do this not for their college education but for the Faith I hope they will keep for life.

  13. Schools aside, the typical Catholic parish is much cheaper to run than the typical protestant church. This is a matter of sheer size.

    Many of us are in addition bearing the huge financial burden of educating our children in Catholic schools.

    Finally, I often sit behind a couple at church who fills up the entire pew with their well-behaved children at Sunday mass. I don't care how much this man puts in the plate.


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