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Tithe to Keep Catholic Churches Strong and Better Serve the Faithful and Community

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By Alfie D'Souza, Illinois [ Published Date: January 9, 2014 ]

By Alfie D'Souza, Team Mangalorean
 
"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” -Mathew 23:16
 
Mangalore: With sadness I write this article, for  I just found out couple days ago that the Church which I had been attending Mass and other religious activities for the past 22 years in Chicago suburbs, USA closed down due to low membership of parishioners and also due to financial  problems. I had been very much involved as a parishioner at this church during my stay in US, like taking part in fundraising events, bazaar and garage sales, and other church activities. We all tried our best to keep this church running, but all our efforts were in vain, since many parishioners didn't wanted to take active part in the church and also didn't wanted to support the church financially. And I guess, finally the Diocese decided to shut down such a beautiful and historic church.

It is a sad, sad situation seeing many Catholic churches, convents, schools and seminaries closing in USA. I have seen through my eyes that many of these churches, convents have been converted into restaurants, recreation halls, and other social halls. Also there is a shortage in Catholic priests and nuns. The Catholic dioceses in US needs financial support from its faithful parishioners to run all the Catholic organizations and keep them active. By acting out the virtues of charity, unity and fraternity, faithful can demonstrate God's love to more families, parishes and communities, and make the Catholic Church as a part of their family, by involving in church happenings, attend Mass and help church in its financial needs. But the problem is that American Catholics are losing interest in their faith, and also don't want to support the church and the diocese. Such kind of situation has not reached here in Mangalore, but it may soon, as many local Mangalorean Catholic youth are not believing in their faith very seriously, and also not attending church services etc etc .

I was at St Aloysius Chapel for Sunday Mass two weeks ago-and I was surprise to see that not many faithful were tithing (offering), including many youth. I know these youth are from hostel and they are students not having much money with them-but that doesn't mean they can't afford to contribute a small amount to the church, may be Rs 5 or Re 1. When they go out to the mall or to the pub they spend big bucks, then why hesitate when contributing to the church. Last Sunday I attended mass at Milagres church- the same situation-not many were seen contributing towards the church funds. But on the other hand, have you noticed the amount of money the temples make through offerings, it is unbelievable - Hindu devotees contribute very generously. So why not Catholics also contribute generously ? Keeping that in mind, you will surely keep your faith alive and also the Catholic Church alive!

It is a bold step of faith to start tithing. Cynics sometimes argue that tithing is not required in the New Testament. I actually agree, since our salvation is no longer based on works, but on faith in Jesus. But there is no escaping the truth that tithing opens the door for blessing that can not be opened without doing it. From my own personal tithing experience, I can attest that I am so overwhelmingly convinced beyond any shadow of a doubt that tithing increases blessing, that I will never live any other way.
 
The collection bowl or a basket - The tithing ! The funds for the new parking lot, new roof, and new hymnals. The missions. The seminarians. The refugees. The homeless shelter, The community projects. The electric bill and other utility bills. Your church can, if nothing else, find you good ways to spend your money. But tithing and other forms of church giving are down of late – a victim of the decline in church attendance, the economy, and, some say, a failure to teach that giving is an integral part of the spiritual
 
Tithes and offerings are biblical injunctions which a religious faithful or lover of God uses to show appreciation to the creator for gifts of life, health, abundance, protection etc. It is also God’s way of taking care of the levites, pastors, priests He called into the ministry so that they can concentrate on the work assigned them. God commanded the Israelites to pay tithes and offerings in Leviticus 27 vs 30 – 32 stating that “‘A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD..” While tithes has a stated minimum of ten percent, offerings is of freewill nature, but Christians are enjoined to give according as God blesses and at times sacrificially.
 
Abraham was the first recorded person in the Bible to pay tithe. He paid tithe to Melchizedek, Priest of the Most High God and King of Salem some hundreds of years before God officially gave the injunction on tithing to Moses (Gen 14 vs 17-20). Therefore, tithes preceded the Law of Moses. Jesus Christ, while supporting tithing, chided the Pharisees for concentrating more on tithes while neglecting other religious injunctions. According to Jesus Christ in Matthew 23 vs 23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone” Therefore, Jesus supported both tithes and keeping all other laws of God and the priesthood of Jesus was in the order of Melchizedek while his Kingship was in the order of Judah, the root of David.
 
Last Sunday after Mass, I had breakfast at a local restaurant. I met a couple of Catholic families who seemed unhappy with the church. "We don't like to contribute to the church every week," they said. "The church asks for money, money and more money every time and all the time. So we quit going to church and also stopped practicing our faith." I was stunned someone would give up their faith just because they have to support the church. Isn't the Roman Catholic Church a vital part of parishioners' lives? Or is it just a hobby some people indulge in on Sundays? The Catholic diocese is asking members to tithe/Sunday offerings for running the Church.

The Catholic church needs money. The church offers more than just relics: It operates schools and manages cafeterias and outreach programs, donate financial aid to community projects, build houses and provide food for the needy, it also pays for the living expenses of priests and other management expenses. So why not expect adequate support from the faithful? If people pay for something, they become invested in it. It is more theirs than something they get free. They receive a benefit for their money -- tithing to the church gives parishioners a greater stake in the future of that church.
 
"I was raised Catholic. But now I don't practice my faith." "I am a Catholic. But I attend church only twice a year -- on Easter and Christmas." "I am a Catholic, but I seldom go to Church or Sunday Mass" etc etc These are just a few among many comments I have heard. There's a saying, "A book is useless without a cover. A life is useless without a lover." Similarly, being a Catholic for namesake is useless if you don't intend to follow the church teachings and also profess the faith.
 
As a Catholic, your faith should consist of what you believe, how you pray and where you can find God. For Catholics, Mass attendance is a vital part of weekly, if not daily, life. And attending Sunday Mass is the biggest commitment you can make, where you will hear God's words in the Scripture and be nourished by the Eucharist. So, all ye Catholic faithful, no matter what's your profession and no matter what your busy lifestyle schedule is, please do not abandon God.

These days attendance by churchgoers is seriously declining. We do have huge, beautiful historic churches but not many patrons. I have witnessed during Sunday Mass the majority of attendees are middle age or older folks, and just a few youngsters. Occasionally, a few young couples show up as part of their marriage requirements. But kids and teenagers, where art thou, other than Sunday Catechism children? Parents should play a vital role in encouraging and involving their youngsters in church activities, and also tithe and donate generously to the church's needs. That's the only way you can keep your Catholic faith and the Catholic Church alive.

I think tithing would have a double benefit: It would both bring the church resources it sorely needs and would also bind the flock more closely to the faith that is a vital part of their community. So to all ye Catholic faithful, don't give up your faith just because you have to tithe or fund the church. If you don't support the church, who will? Give whatever you can. Make the church a part of your family. By acting out the virtues of charity, unity and fraternity, we can demonstrate God's love to more families, parishes and communities. So keep your faith alive. "The Earth has yielded its fruits. God, our God, has blessed us. May God bless us and may all the ends of the earth fear him. Amen!". 

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Jude Pious, Germany :
This article reflects the holier than thou sermonizing attitude that is responsible for people leaving the Catholic Church in the first place
T.M.Xavier, India :
Tithes are being used by catholic churches mostly for pomp and show. At least 50% of church collections should be spent for the welfare of the poor, sick, old, widows etc. Then we find real fruits of faith in the church as explained in Mathew 25;34-46 that is real evangelization. Without salvation and evangelization churches degenerate into worldly entities
A. S. Mathew, USA :
Mr. John Tauro: I am glad that people like you are trying to open the hidden secrets of the church world. I write comments regularly in two of the leading Catholic and Orthodox websites specifically pointing fingers at the worldly corporate business mentality adopted by the Church world.

While attending in an Orthodox Church owned college in Kerala, during the admission time, I saw pure politics. The poor members of the same denomination had zero chance to put their children to the college, whereas the children of the socially high class people of other religions had high priority to admit their children. What I can do if I protest that totally unethical format of the Church.

Pope Francis is going to make a clean up of the Catholic Church and other denominations will be forced to take some drastic actions to change their way of operation.

I had been to some of the poorest villages of India and worshiped with the people, born and skin, making less than Rs. 100.00/day who are tea pickers in West Bengal, under shaky roof. What kind of fancy church buildings are built for worship in South India? How many crores/church buidlings?

It is high time that the religious hierarchy and the believers to have total transformation of their outlook and purpose of life.
John Tauro, Kuwait:
I think it is G.B. Shaw, the British novelist who once stated that the doctrines of the church are evenly observed since the rich celebrate the feasts and the poor observe the fasts.

Formerly tithes were utilized mainly for the maintenance of the church’s installations and institutions and for the betterment of the needy and underprivileged in the society. But of late there has been widespread pomp and show in running of the church as well as gaiety in celebrations. The poor among the parishioners are left to observe the fasts. Money is being lavishly spent on the construction of magnificent buildings, thus competing with architectural works of other faiths. When it comes to construction or renovation of a church, the parishioners are compulsorily required to contribute a minimum amount. Those who cannot afford to do so are ostracized and subjected to unwarranted humiliation, which seems highly unfair. Today when we hear the word church we think of a magnificent palatial construction rather than a congregation of the faithful. Why don’t we construct simple four walled buildings with a roof above and save thousands, if not lakhs, that is spent on pomp and splendour. As Mr. Benny in this forum said there are congregations who worship in tents, halls, basements and even in the privacy of their homes. Do you think their worship is unacceptable to our Heavenly Father? Their faith is so firm and deep rooted that anybody can make out by observing the glow on their faces when they come out of their places of worship. I have observed their faith is much stronger and firmer than church going Catholics. Again it is Catholics among Christians who convert to other religions for reasons better known to them.

Right from the 16th century there had been sects and sub-sects in Christianity. It’s high time that our religious leaders shed their ego and princely behaviour, accept faults committed in the past, rectify doctrines incompatible with the Holy Scriptures and find ways to unite thus demonstrating our love and faith in our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ.
A. S. Marhew, USA :
The first century church collection was exclusively used for meeting the needs of the financially desperate people in the church, mainly the widows and the orphans. Now, the repeated collection is to build the most attractive buildings with all the comforts and decorations.
The Churches have turned like religious corporations, no relationship with the first century Church.

For something we love and enjoy, naturally we give money. Dr. Billy Graham said " give the check book of a person, I will tell his character within 30 minutes".

The traditional Churches are losing membership all over the world whereas the charismatic and contemporary Churches are thickly packed. Many of the Churches from India opened for the believers in the U.S. are getting empty because the young generation is not finding spiritual uplift and enrichment in those churches with the same old worship repeated every week. Why they need to come to hear the same old thing? They can record that and watch at home, if they prefer.
The new Pope Francis is creating a revolution and more Catholic believers are attending Church now. 92% of the Catholic believers in the U.S. support Pope Francis, that is a record breaking event. He is trying to lead the Church to be practical followers of JESUS CHRIST.

If the Churches are not fulfilling the spiritual hunger and thirst, believers are not motivated to attend the Church and they would be reluctant to open the billfold to donate.

So, every local congregation has to make a self-search, what is missing in our congregation?
Joe Gonsalves, India :
I share Alfie's views with regard to the presence of people in Churches in America. I have attended Masses in various Churches in U.S. and Canada and more particularly in Detroit, Toledo and Cleveland and indeed I find that over the years the attendance in churches have declined. I too have observed that two of the Churches where I used to attend daily Masses have closed down. One of the churches was headed by a Mangalorean priest who was loved and admired by the parishioners.

I have seen a Church in Solon where no Sunday Collections are made but the people generously contribute towards the up-keep of the Church.

The situation in Mangalore is not bad however. It is true that some do not contribute at the offering but most of the people do. Besides once a year when the priests go round blessing the houses a good number of people do make generous offerings.

Having said this let us try and understand what The Church is. The Church is the Catholic People and as such we have an obligation to support our Churches.

Joe Gonsalves
Rems Doha, Qatar:
"These days attendance by churchgoers is seriously declining" - I dont know which church you have been attending. In Mangalore there is serious space crunch in most churches because they are jam packed on Sundays. Almost all churches had to be expanded and renovated one or other time because of space crunch, and not to mention the demand for new churches. In my own parish, when I come down on vacation I am surprised to see the kind of crowd that keeps increasing every year, so much so that Parish council has decided to expand the church. The church used to be open only on Saturday and Sundays, but now everyday is like Sunday.

I also disagree that youngsters are not attending the church. Visit any church in DK and you will see that youngsters are actually the lifeline of the church. There are a couple of forums like ICYM, YCM,choir and various sodalities which keep the youngsters rooted to the church. In the west it my be quite opposite, because the people there are quite progressive about their religious beliefs.
Cheryl Fernandes, India :
God bless and compliments for a informative and very convincing article that will motivate the Catholic faithful to contribute generously to the church. Thank you alfi Dsouza and mangalorean.com for your support and encouragement pertaining to this need.
Rudolf, India :
Well written article Sir, the need of the hour for us Roman Catholics whose active participation in the church is waning rapidly!!

But there are big reasons for this most of which are enumerated by many other learned boarders here!! People now are evolving with more of awareness, newsflow, using scientific and rational thought and change is inevitable with the times!! People are closely watching all the wrongdoings being done in the name of religion God etc. and know there is total contradiction in preaching and practice by the laity!! Recently at least two cases were reported wherein substantial church land was sold without going through proper process for peanuts to builders in prime areas of Mumbai, this naturally brings a sense of feeling cheated spiritually and mentally by the very common people who lay so much of trust in the laity!! And there are other reasons like scandals etc. also happening at regular intervals!!

Just as how the AAM AADMI party surfaced from nowhere with so much of power (after the common people gave too long a patient chance to the conventional parties to serve them) , the change happening in the church is inevitable and the flue of what is happening in advanced countries is surely going to spread here much against our wishes!!

However, I wish that at least our devotion and basic rituals bear the onslaught of the times and regroup and continue with vigor!!

Cheers and God Bless!!
NaSh, India :
Well if something is running low on necessary finances for the day to day operations, it makes sense to shut it down. Merging the particular Church with a neighbouring and thriving Church was also an innovative option, though the religious and the clergy will oppose and take offense to it. With more and more people getting educated, religion will take a back-seat. If the religious organizations and places of faith and worship do not want the lay to be disinterested in religious activities and rituals, they should make it attractive to the lay. Findings show that in a few years, the world will have more atheists than theists. What will the places of worship and faith become then? Alfie has already mentioned about restaurants and recreation clubs.
Fr Boniface, Bangalore, India :
Fr Boniface, Bangalore, IndiaJan 5, 2014 Thank you Mr D'Souza for your support and keeping faith in your religion. The Church needs the support and encouragement from the its faithful in order to run a religious institute. Thanks mangalorean.com for bringing an awareness among the faithful on this issue.
Original R Pai, USA :
"actually agree, since our salvation is no longer based on works, but on faith in Jesus." - Author.Nice! What about others?
Drona, India :
Being a Catholic for namesake is useless if you don't intend to follow the church teachings and also profess the faith. -Clip

There are two categories if you will. One is practicing type and the other, non practicing. Majority may be non practicing these days. This is actually a welcome change not unlike the aam aadmi movement where out of necessity, a political order is born. You may find that the humans may slowly and steadily reject the need for a religious order and settle instead for an intellectual and more useful discourse in life based on scientific facts and evidence rather than fairy tales and customs.
This is likely to happen regardless of the faith one follows. It has disillusioned many to find that the priests are self serving without any real love for the community. I would wait and see how the priest community reacts to this article. PRIESTS MAY BE FROM ANY RELIGION.
Alfred J Rebello, India :
Vatican should interfere and help such churches. Vatican collects money on Good Friday for such things from all over the world. What happens to it? If anybody knows, please enlighten me. I agree Hindu temples gets lot of donations, that is why there is lot of commotions to manage the temples and also robberies, which is rare in churches.
Vinson Vaz, Kuwait:
Contd ....

A recent incident where a particular church I belong to has issued directives asking parishioners to shell out a particular amount in the name of providing medical assistance. What provoked me was the head of the church has instructed parishioners who cannot afford or pay right away can pay via installment and those who still are unable to do that are required to contact the church priest and let him know why.While I do my bit towards helping my fellow human beings in a manner which more satisfying, the above grievances deter me from tithing. I wish and pray the churches would follow the directives of the HOLY POPE who said "Poverty should be the sign of the Church".
Vinson Vaz, Kuwait:
While I appreciate your portraying that tithing is very important for the sustenance of a church, it is highly pitiable when a lot of funds are misappropriated by the very priest who heads the church. I am not against any specific priests but if you notice their lavish lifestyles and the extravagance with foods and beverages, it shall surely invoke hatred.
Arun , UAE:
Bible Quote : Malachi Chapter 3 verses 10 and 11 (OT)
Severine Machado, India :
Catholic faithful should be part of the church and support it financially. If the faithful doesn't contribute towards expenses of the church who will.I am a regular thither , so why not you ?
Benny, India :
Hi Alfie,It is not entirely finance that can solve the problem. Some could be becoming atheists, but more are becoming more religious if you observe among all religions. Church and other denominations authorities are missing a unique opportunity of uniting the faithful.
Have you observed how born again groups are flourishing like wild fire despite persecution and excommunication from their own families ? They worship anywhere, basements, tents, hotel halls, get attacked by bajarangis, etc. But they do not closedown, why ? Nor are they ashamed of their belief which has a foundation.
If we insist on tradition and refuse accept change that is real, no wonder we have to close down churches which ever country , rich or poor. And why a compromise is not possible ? could it be that we have to roll back the papal infallibility in teaching, and humbly correct our dogma and teachings strictly according to scriptures ? Well, it may result in most of the clergy losing their livelyhood coming from rituals.

However it may unite all christians under one banner without a hundred groups. Unfortunately our tradition is like a second skin. Did we not burn thousands of faithful just for trying to read Bible during inquisition ? It is already written in the scriptures, "your tradition has nullified the word of God" So take a bitter pill called revival and get healthy acceptable christianity based on scriptures or close down !
Rita-Germany, Germany :
I still wonder in Mangalore People are still going to church practice Religion (for Show or real I dont know)with prayers and seminars. But the fact is religious priests and nuns are lesser than preveously. and it is not only in India but also in European countries.
When we visit India or church, priests first question is ´dont you have to donate something?well, everyone is not blessed with huge Money or not donate,but the donated Money where it goes or what is done with it is hardly we know about it.
Whereas in Europe every Religion member has to pay percentage of his wages to the church goes automatically fron loan. Thatswhy some People comeout from church to avoid it. Nowadays hardly People go to churches, or Religion Profession. In my area one priest has to attend three churches, so that they are so tired and get retired earlier. we dont have every sunday mass.
The other reason why many People dont agree with church is the lot of scandal in churches by authorities. so they comeout. They dont want to pay Money whereas is misused. Generaly churches here are supported by govt. with our taxes. still when it is not enough churches are closed because no devotees no priests to attend. Nowadays many priests are coming from India here. but they have to learn language and get permission. many a times People are satisfied with outsider priests because of language. but there are very good priests alse are there. many priests get married so there is alot of deficiency in religious People.
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