From the Pastor
In January 1998, our parish made a major decision based on its desires to strengthen its relationship with God, to help us in our journey to holiness, and to deepen our commitment to Him. The way we chose to strengthen this spiritual relationship was through tithing. Tithing is giving back to God, in thanksgiving, a portion of what He has given to us. In our tithing we show that we want to help the Church do God's work.
Our parish is like many others in the United States. The Catholic Church depends greatly on bingo, raffles, and other similar activities for support. Despite all the efforts, these methods never seem adequate. That is why St. Joseph Church adopted tithing and why I am presenting an approach to church support that has its foundation in God's inspired word. We might call tithing "God's Plan for Giving."
Tithing Comes From the Bible
Tithing is mentioned more than 40 times in scripture. Numerous Old Testament stories recount how God asked that the first ten percent of the land's produce be set aside as a sign of gratitude for His goodness. The early Church had no tithing system; but as it grew, so did its material needs. Gradually, the Old Testament model of tithing was adopted. A number of regional church councils and, finally, the Council of Trent made the tithe Church law. With the later separation of Church and State, tithing was abandoned.
Today, in Our Time
The difficulty of raising funds for the growing needs of the Church has led to a modified and voluntary system of tithing. Since 1977, more than 800 Catholic parishes in the Northeast have become tithing parishes. In addition to our parish becoming a tithing parish in 1998, St. Patrick Cathedral in Harrisburg and St. Francis Xavier Church in Gettysburg are also tithing parishes.
What Is a Tithe?
The word tithe means tenth. A tithe is the first tenth of a wage earner's income. Tithing is giving back to God something God gave in the first place. Tithing is not just any tenth; it is the first tenth of one's income-salary, dividends, interest-income from any source.
How Does Tithing Work?
Five percent of one's income is given to God through the parish church. The other 5 percent can be used for the Bishop's Annual Appeal, Catholic school tuition, care of one's parents, special diocesan collections, or private charities you wish to support. The spirit of tithing, the most important part of the program, means giving to God, not to me, your pastor, or to this church. Tithing means giving to the point of sacrifice; the word sacrifice means "to make holy." The spirit of tithing means not caring what anyone else gives; tithing is spiritual giving in every sense. What you give to God is between you and God. The ideal tithe of 5% to God's church and 5 percent to His other works can be explained by an example.
If your income from all sources before taxes is $300 per week, the 5 percent Sunday Mass offering would be $15. You might give the other 5 percent to private charities of your choice, parish school tuition, diocesan extra collections. Tithing is really very logical. Everything we have comes from God; and when we give the first 10 percent of our earnings, we are saying to Him, "Thank you, God, for allowing me to use the other nine-tenths!"
Are There Benefits to the Person who Tithes and to his or her Parish?
Absolutely yes! I can witness over and over again how our parish has been blessed because we are a tithing parish. Every parish that has adopted this method has improved its spiritual and material status. Tithing means one collection for the parish at the Offertory of the Mass with the true spirit of offering oneself with the spiritual effect. Tithing helps establish a proper sense of values. Tithing helps us to remember that God comes before all else and that everything we have comes from Him.
What Do we Do Now? What Happens Next?
The decision is up to you. Much will happen should you choose to tithe. It is your choice, your option. You will not be asked to sign anything. No one will ring your doorbell or knock on your door. There are no meetings or pledges. Seek God's will through earnest prayer. And when you pray, please remember that the true purpose of tithing is to secure not the tithe, but the tither; not the gift, but the giver; not your money, but you - for God.
Testimonials from Parishioners
- "We find that tithing really works for us. We were familiar with tithing since we used it in the parish we attended before joining St. Joseph Church. God bless you."
- "Tithing is one of the best things that has ever happened to us in our lives. It enables us to express more fully our faith in God who is the source of all that we have and all that we are".
- "If we truly believe that God is the source of all that we have and all that we are, then I wonder how anyone could not make God the first priority in paying our bills. Now we put aside the first 10 percent of our gross income to God before anything else; 5 percent to our parish’s regular collections and 5 percent to other charities."
- "We looked over our monthly budget and realized that, with a few sacrifices, we would in fact tithe the full 10 percent. Since then, we have experienced peace in knowing we are now demonstrating our faith in a new and spiritually enriching way."
- "The talks on tithing caused me to re-evaluate my contributions to my parish. Tithing is difficult; but I am certain that what we give God, we receive back in blessings."
- "My wife and I have been blessed with three great children, and we have always had a comfortable home and good health…..even though, at times, it was difficult to make ends meet. We have had much joy in our lives, and GOD always seems to show us a way to deal with the difficulties that arise."