Several years ago one of our more famous tele-evangelists announced that God was going to do something very bad to him if his people would not donate several million dollars to his corporation. Well, I don’t know if he really reached his goal, but I think he is still alive. Last week I was watching another famous, and usually good tele-evangelist, and he was talking about tithing. Interestingly he quoted a text from the prophet Malachi 3:3-12. Now every pastor would love it if his parishioners tithed and I believe the biblical recommendation is ten percent. But Jesus made a radical transformation of our obligations to support his Church. St. Justin, who probably knew the Apostles personally, said this, “The wealthy, if they wish, may make a contribution, and they themselves decide the amount. The collection is placed in the custody of the president, who uses it to help the orphans and widows and all who for any reason are in distress, whether because they are sick, in prison, or away from home. In a word, he takes care of all who are in need.” As you can see, the goal of tithing is much different for Catholic Christians than for other faiths. Times have changed even now and most of us, even the unemployed, are not really living in poverty when we compare ourselves to the developing counties that I have visited. Some very demanding people come to the rectory and want money for various reasons. Ironically, they seem to drive up in nice shinny cars to make their demands. It makes me wonder what is really going on. In past assignments, I have seen people not paying their tuition, yet they still go to Disney World for vacations even during school time! However, there are some realistic realities that we must face. Whether you are running a parish or a private home, it is getting harder to pay the bills. Yet there are people who have enormous credit card debts because they, like our government whom they criticize for overspending, are no different from the politicians. Perhaps it is time to start giving up some of our luxuries. I have not seen a child who does not have some kind of electronic device which not only cost them for the product, but also for an on going bill to give them access to all sorts of things both good and immoral. Have you ever noticed how much we are controlled by these devices. I even see them seeping into our Church during Mass. We see our children locked into these devices even to the point of their not doing the chores. Many people complain about big government and how it is expanding and taking away our freedoms. But are our children free? Are we free using these devices? I remember coming back from working at Ground Zero the day of the attack. My rectory, nine blocks away, had limited power and I was able to pick up a UHF New Jersey station where the announcers were constantly talking about what had happened. I realized that they did not have a clue as to what was going on, but they seemed to speak with authority. They showed pictures of men doing things that had nothing to do with the reality of the day. Of course for fillers there was a constant flow of watching the planes hitting the towers to keep us glued to the screen. I often wonder are we simply being controlled by the media? Is it good for us to see the parents of the Newtown shooting almost every night on TV? Is it good for them? Is there any law that is going to preserve us from these incidents? We have not solved the problems associated with racial prejudice in this country, but we have developed a legal system to allow some of us to mask it by political correctness. We have allowed for a double standard of legal pornography for adults, but it is illegal for children under guise of freedom of speech. Child pornography is governed by Homeland Security. It is only a matter of time for equal protection under the law for this gap to be eliminated. It will probably come about with sexting because as more and more children are doing it and we will not have the space in our prisons to accommodate them. I see a politician caught in sexting is now considering running again for public office. How do you think he is going to vote on “laws” against sexting? So what is the solution to all these problems? Perhaps we should take another look at one of the most underfunded institutions – the Catholic Church. Personally, I think it was a mistake to take any government funds for moral purposes simply because eventually the government will assume “moral responsibility.” God does have laws that we will be held accountable for even though it might be legal. Can you ever imagine Jesus saying it is ok to kill a child? Many Christian religions have sanctioned this practice. We can kill in the womb, but we cannot kill in schools. I do hope that you will continue to support the Bishops Appeal and your parish. I remember reading somewhere that those who attended Catholic schools were less prejudice than the average American citizen. I also recall that Moslems frequently attend Catholic universities because they are welcomed there. Maybe a little more money sent to Christ’s Church might counter all this nonsense. It will only be by teaching and practicing true moral virtue that all of our spiritual ailments can be cured. After I wrote these notes, the explosions in Boston happened. Let us keep the victims and their families in our prayers.
Fr. Vincent Euk