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Catholic Principles of Tithing

by Catherine Frakas 25 Apr 2003

Philosophy and Principles of Tithing
according to the Rule of St. Michael

From the Constitution (based on the brochure: "Where Your Treasure Is ..." by Rev. Fr. Joseph Champlin, (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1983):

294. Principles and Philosophy of Tithing: Our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II said:

"We cannot stand idly by, enjoying our own riches and freedom if, in any place the Lazarus of the twentieth century [or any century] stands at our doors."

1 Timothy 6:17-19 states:

"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life."

Malachi 3:6-10 warns:

"'I the Lord do not change. So you, O descendant of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,' says the Lord Almighty."

"But you ask, 'How are we to return?' "

"Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me."

"But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' "

"'In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse–the whole nation of you–because you are robbing me. 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.' "

296. Four Principles of Tithing:

a) Give back to the Lord in gratitude a portion of everything God has given, whether through paychecks, dividends, unexpected windfalls, Social Security payments, or regular allowances.

b) See the gift as a sacrifice, a donation that seems almost more than affordable, an offering that "makes holy" (the literal meaning of the word "sacrifice") all the efforts and earnings of the past month.

c) Use whatever means the Local Community may use to identify your tithe as a donation from you, thus both manifesting to others your commitment to regular support of the Community and actively participating in the collection as part of the Community's Conventual Mass worship.

d) Consider the biblical norm of tithing in determining the amount of your sacrificial gift. The biblical norm was ten (10) percent of gross income. But in addition, there were many other "required" offerings. Both tithes and offering could equal more than one-third (1/3) of a families' gross income. The specific amounts or percentages recommended for members shall be discussed in the General Directory.

297. The Biblical Basis of Tithing: Tithing is rooted in the Hebrew Scriptures, or Old Testament, reinforced by the New Testament teaching on generosity and exemplified in the lives of the early Christians.

298. The following passages from each of those sources illustrate this Scriptural challenge of tithing and generous giving:

Old Testament: "Glorify the Lord generously, and do not stint the first fruits of your hands. With every gift show a cheerful face, and dedicate your tithe with gladness." - Sirach 35:8-9 (RSVCE)

New Testament: "In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' " - Acts 20:35

Early Christians: "All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need." - Acts 2:44-45

299. Additional passages on the biblical basis of tithing are: Dt 12:17-18; 14:22-29; 15:7-11; 26:1-15; Nm 18:21-32; Neh 10:36-40; 13:4-5, 10-14; Sir 35:1-10; Mt 25:44-46; Lk 6:24-25; 9:25; 16:13; 16:19-31; 18:25; Acts 2:42-45; 4:32-35; 2 Cor 8:2; 9:7; Jas 2:15-17.

300. Holy Scripture also promises that God will care for the needs of those who tithe and generously return a share of what the Lord has given them.

301. These verses exemplify this biblical summons to trust and the promise of our Creator's providential support:

Old Testament: "I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging food." - Ps 37:25

New Testament: "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness. and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." - Mt 6:33-24

302. Additional Scriptures on this call to trust are: Mal 3:10; Mt 6:19-34; Lk 12:22-32; 1 Tm 6:17-19.

303. Additional Principles of Tithing:

a) Tithing means to give of a person's gross income. The tithe, however, is only a barometer, guideline, or estimating level for one's sacrificial giving. Some can and should offer more than the recommended amount of their tithe; others may return less than that percentage.

b) If the amount of the suggested tithe is legitimately too much for one's current budget, a member may begin with a lower percentage that will be both sacrificial and yet possible. Then the member may gradually raise the level of giving until the full suggested amount is reached. In this way brothers and sisters and families are making a decision for the Lord first and only afterward considering their own needs and wants.

c) Families should involve their children in tithing by teaching them through word and by example the priority of returning to God a portion of the blessing He has given us. Children may do this through tithing their allowances or income from part-time jobs.

d) Those faithful Christians who tithe report how remarkably their material needs have been met. Moreover, they will cite these blessings as even greater, spiritual rewards:

1) a sense of serenity and satisfaction that comes from generosity;

2) an awareness that God comes first, even in decisions about money;

3) a recognition that one has eliminated the practice of making contributions that are mere leftovers or contributions of habit;

4) a deep sense of satisfaction in the progress made by the Order due to the amount of tithing by its members;

5) an ability to distinguish between wants and needs;

6) a deeper consciousness of society's materialism and consumerism;

7) A keener appreciation of the world's poor and how we should and can alleviate their pain and poverty;

8) a quiet confidence in the Lord's protective care.

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