As part of my conversion to the Catholic Church, I’ve begun the work of organizing my money to both be more responsible, but also include charitable giving in my budget. In my Protestant past, my efforts to tithe were sporadic and more often than not I found something better to do with my money than the donation plate, even if it meant I was “robbing God.”
However, I have again run into an issue concerning money and the Church. No doubt the Catholic Church is in a weakened state and I confess that though my faith was strengthened by my conversion, it was not strengthened as much as I would have hoped. Weak homilies, video presentations on donating to the local archdiocese during Mass, and immigrant African priests who sing “If you’re happy and you know it” during Mass (yes, really) are just a few of the experiences that have weakened my convictions and make devotion that much harder. Yet, I feel a sense of duty to financially support the Church to which I have sworn fealty.
In this struggle, I find that The Hirsch Files has asked the question of why Catholics have reduced their tithing. One commenter asked, “… why faithfully give money to a group working against your faith?”
So the issue for me is, should I support the Catholic Church in its weakened state knowing that my contributions will mostly likely be used to further the weakness or do I withhold my support?
The first immediate response is a pseudo monastic option where I both withdraw all support by not giving financially nor giving of my time past what is absolutely required. If there is an illness in the Church, than continued financing of it by own hand makes me complicit and a poor manager.
The second option calls me to give in an act of faith, trusting that Christ will correct His Church. From this stance, money and time given are given more for Christ’s sake than the Church’s. Devotion and loyalty are maintained and put into practical action, even in the worst of times.
At this season in my life, I do not have access to Traditional Latin Mass or one of the breakaway parishes that have deliberately worked to resist the modernization and weakness in the Church. So I must engage in the parish I am attending.
Turning toward Tradition and Scripture, I came across the offering of the widow in Luke.
[Jesus] looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury; and he saw a poor widow put in two copper coins. And he said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all the living that she had.”
I wonder if that poor widow considered the Temple life of that time to be corrupt (as Jesus declared it to be). If she did not believe it to be corrupt then she was giving out duty and faith. But if she did believe it to be corrupt, then her faith in God still shone through and Jesus made note of it. There was something beyond the money that mattered.
So I ponder, should I give my tithe to the Church, knowing it is in a poor shape or should I deny it? Which is an act of faith? Which is true to God?