Think about those times in your life when you have felt inspired to something really great. Where does that inspiration come from?
The Holy Spirit. God inspires us to do great things with our lives.
----Matthew Kelly

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Disclaimer: I am not a theologian, I'm just a Catholic empty nester trying to figure it all out. The views on this blog are my own.

Offering Everything Up to Him

scenic picture with scripture verse in a diamond in the center
Tithing. Should I do it? How do I decide how much to give? Am I offering everything up to Him? Do I really have the complete trust I should have?

To have the faith of the women in 1Kings 17:10-16 and Mark 12:41-44. The total and complete trust they had in God is astounding. They both gave the last bit of their livelihood and trusted. The widow in 1Kings knew that she and her son were going to die. They were down to their last little bit of flour and oil, then here comes this man asking for water and bread, citing the Lord's words to calm her fears. I'm not sure, but I feel pretty confident I would have been grumbling the whole time I was making the bread for this stranger.
Tithing. Our Protestant friends seem to have this down to an art. I heard the joke "Catholics don't tithe, they tip". Isn't that true in a lot of cases? Some people say that the Church has enough money, they don't need anymore. The reality is that it costs money for the upkeep of the church: the utility bills have to be paid, the employees have to be paid. Not to mention the donations to charities. I had a Protestant friend many years ago who said that she found when she tithes, even if she didn't feel like she had the money, she always made it to the end of the month. Isn't that just like the widows? My friend was single and a teacher, so there were months when she was very concerned she wouldn't be able to make her utility payment due to tithing, but it always worked out.
I have to admit how selfish I am. I like having a little bit of money left over out of my paycheck. I'm not a big shopper, and through the years my impulse shopping has decreased dramatically. So why don't I give more to the Church? (See the first sentence.) Does it boil down to lack of trust?

Giving my all to Him

The widow in Mark contributed "her whole livelihood" (Mark 12:44), not just financially, but in everything. As I go through the day, do I whisper to Jesus, telling him everything I do is for his glory? When I run into a store quickly only to be held up at the cash register because the cashier is having a nice, slow conversation with the customer, I'm usually cussing under my breath instead of thanking God that there are people who still take the time to talk.  When things are so crazy at work and my students all act like they've had a ton of sugar, I need to learn to stop and thank God that 1) I have a job that I love, and 2) that I have been entrusted to work with children and help mold their lives. When I get home and I still don't have time to sit down because there are dishes left in the sink, the dog had an accident on the floor, the bed hasn't been made, supper has to be made, etc., I'm usually grumbling instead of being grateful that I have a home to come to at the end of the day. All of these little things can be giving all I have to Christ.

It's not just about money

How do we know if we've given enough? I know I don't give nearly what I should give. I give a lot of my time, but monetarily? Not at all. I researched a bit and found that the Church doesn't suggest a fixed percentage of what should be tithed.  From Catholic AnswersGod 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.  An article in The Catholic Digest states tithing actually means 1/10th. Father William J. Byron, S.J., suggested that the Church may bring back the 1/10th, with 1/5th being service and 1/5th being monetary. Father Echert from EWTN stated that the Church takes into consideration the service to the Church as part of its tithing. Our stewardship includes time and talent, not just money. 
The 1/5th and 1/5th as Father Byron suggested make complete sense to me. I often look at how much time I spend at church with CCW, choir, and RCIA and use that as a cop-out for not giving monetarily. My diocese had a "Home" program a couple of years ago. We were given a certain amount of suggested monthly donations and asked to give that much for 2 years. Each parish developed plans for improvements and the money was to be given directly to each individual parish for those improvements. My contribution was very little. Could I have done more? Absolutely. Should that count as part of the tithing? I would think so.

Was grumbling involved?

There have been times when I was at Mass and had a $20 bill and smaller bills in my purse and chose to give the smaller amount because I might need that $20. Yep, my total trust in God just isn't there yet. There are so many aspects of my life where I want to put all my trust in Him but something is holding me back. Trust is such a hard thing to give and not take back. I wonder: did the widow in 1Kings grumble? Did she wonder if she was doing the right thing? Did the widow in Mark have to think about what she was giving? Did she slip in quietly so no one would notice just how little she was giving, even though to her it was an awful lot?

I know I should strive to emulate these widows, to not be grumpy and to offer all I have to God. I am a very selfish person, and I am fully aware of it. We all have something we need to work on, and this is a huge area for me. Baby steps...it's going to take baby steps!
pinterest pin with scenic picture in background with scripture verse in a diamond

1 comment:

  1. I hear you and had many of the same thoughts today. I do know, we go through seasons, when the kids were little my volunteerism was a career. As they got older my time was stretched and I had to pull back (plus I was burning out). Now my funds are securely tied up in college and we give very specifically to the needs of our local parish. Recent events have caused us to rethink where our funds are going and we earmarked our contributions to go close to home. Today a visiting priest said, " God will not be undone in generosity; when we give, he gives more."

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