I was in a conversation recently about “differences between Catholics and those of other faiths” concerning, of all subjects: the tradition of tithing.
What was most interesting? The Catholic in the group said: “We don’t do that.”
“We” don’t? Since when? To surprise some out there, Catholics ARE REQUIRED to tithe. (Just as we are to give up something on every Friday of the year … like meat. But, that is for a reflection later.)
The tithing tradition is first found being established by God in the Old Testament. Why? He did it for two reasons:
so that we keep God the #1 priority on our lives; and,
so we support His Church and the needy financially.
“Tithing” refers to giving “one-tenth” of our income to God in gratitude for His daily blessings (represented in the 21st century in the income we earn in order to live). How do we give money to God? We give the tithe to the Church … which is the visible household of God on earth. Giving 1/10 of our pay to the Church is a constant reminder of our dependence on God and a way to show our gratitude for being able to work and provide for our families. Moreover, it’s the way we help sustain the physical operation of the local Church and provide help to those in need of food, clothing, shelter, medicine and other assistance. (Recently, this theory has been put into reality in the Diocese of Sioux Falls through what is called: the Dudley House (located in the downtown area of Sioux Falls).)
Now, the difference between the Catholic Church and those of other faiths is … the Catholic understanding of: “Give the tithe to the Church”
Many dioceses encourage the individual soul to pick and choose worthy charities to support; as well as, support the physical operation of the local and universal Church. So, practically speaking, one should currently give 5% of your tithe to the worthy Christian charities of your choice and 5% of your income to the Parish (which is then distributed to the Diocese and Rome). Now, if none goes to a chosen charity … then all 10% is to be given to the Church
One aspect that is disturbing among many Catholics … an attitude of “worthiness”. You know what I mean: “All they are going to do is waste it … that is why I don’t tithe.” To answer this: “It is a good thing God doesn’t judge by the same standard. Think of the trust He has in us when He gives each of us 100% of our blessings.” As God has trusted and invested in us, we need to trust and invest (in faith) in God’s guiding Hand. Surrendering ourselves to God (with our money especially) is faith in action. Attempting to control God is truly fruitless.