Tithing and Almsgiving

A Letter from Our Pastor

+JMJ+

Wednesday, March 25, 2020
Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

Dear parishioners of St. Gabriel Catholic Church, 

The peace of Jesus Christ be with you all! (John 15:1)

We are called to be a church of Gospel charity through stewardship - an offering of time, talent and treasure.  Matthew 25:40  Since I arrived at St. Gabriel in October 2019, I have received many questions about the difference between tithing and almsgiving.

The purpose of this letter is to share with you what was offered to all members of our Finance Council and now to each one of you -- sacred scripture, Church teachings, and advice I received from my own parents on tithing and almsgiving.

I thought it appropriate to share this that you may, above all, find peace in your giving to the Church and neighbor in need. 

A model of generosity

My parents have always modeled generosity, one of the twelve fruits of the Holy Spirit.  At 80 years old, my dad recently shared, “As your mom and I look back on our life together, we can say we’ve completed our 10% tithe to the Church throughout our nearly 60 years of marriage.  Some years we were unable to give a dime, while other years we gave 30% in times of prosperity.”  

My dad also explained almsgiving in his own words: “almsgiving is giving to the poor or those in need expecting nothing in return.  I often invited people on the street out to lunch or purchased a meal for them.”  These words and lifetime of example from my parents have remained with me over the years.  

Our call to evangelize from cradle to grave

Numerous times over the past 20 years of active ministry in our Catholic Church, I’ve listened to parents painfully express their concern: “Where did we go wrong?  We did our best at home, but our children are no longer practicing the Catholic Faith. Why?”  

We, as St. Gabriel Catholic Church, have a primary obligation to evangelize, catechize, and serve the faithful of our parish from the cradle to the grave.  For too long the Catholic Church has overlooked the need to bridge youth ministry and young adult ministry to preserve their faith for a lifetime. 

Stewardship of treasure in sacred Scripture

2 Corinthians 9: 5-7 
So I thought it necessary to encourage the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for your promised gift, so that in this way it might be ready as a bountiful gift and not as an exaction. Consider this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.  Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  

Luke 6:38 
Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.

What is almsgiving?

Any material favor done to assist the needy, and prompted by charity.  Read more here.

Give alms...Pray to your Father...Fast without a gloomy face.
Matthew 6:1-18

Giving alms, Jesus teaches, means making the needs of others our own, especially the needy of our world. They are all around us: children and the old, the sick and the suffering, families and individuals, next-door neighbors and people in lands faraway.

Whatever we give should be something of ourselves, something that costs us. We will receive blessings from God in return.

What shall we give to the needy this Lent? In deciding, decide generously. After all, before us is the great alms Jesus gave: "He loved us, and gave himself up for us."

What is tithing?

The word tithe comes from the Anglo-Saxon word teotha meaning "a tenth. " The first mention of a tithe in the Bible occurs in Genesis when Melchizedek, a king and a "priest of God Most High," offered a sacrifice of bread and wine in thanksgiving for Abraham's victory over several enemy kings. As an offering to God, Abraham gave Melchizedek "a tenth of everything." (Confer Genesis 14.) However, this tithe was not seen as initiating some new practice, but rather as fulfilling an established custom. Apparently, one tenth of one's bounty was customarily given to the priests in their service to God. The Torah laws prescribe the offering of tithes. A person offered to God, or "tithed," one-tenth of the harvest of grain of the fields or the produce of fruit of the trees, one-tenth of new pressed wine and oil, and every tends firstborn animal of herd or flock (Leviticus 23 30-33. Deuteronomy 12:17. 14:22-29).   Source

The Church's position on tithing

God doesn’t demand a fixed amount of money from us; he wants us to give from the heart. If people are forced by their church to give a certain percent of their income, that’s extortion. If they give freely and cheerfully the amount they are able, that’s a gift.  Source:  CatholicAnswers

The fifth precept - "You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church" - means that the faithful are obliged to assist with the material needs of the Church, each according to his own ability.  
Source:  Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2043

We are called to assist with the needs of the Church

The Code of Canon Law also states, "The Christian faithful are obliged to assist with the needs of the Church so that the Church has what is necessary for divine worship for apostolic works and works of charity for the decent sustenance of ministers." (No. 222).  Source

In other words, we are called to provide funds for the parish versus philanthropy of parish to greater community.
 

I thank all of you for your generous giving to this parish of ours - past, present, and future!   May you find the peace of Christ in the gift of yourself to God and neighbor in these times!  

Peace and joy in Christ,

Fr. Richard
Luke 6:38
John 15:11-12

 
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