The Roman Catholic Church in The Bahamas is part of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope. The diocese was elevated to a full diocese, as the diocese of Nassau in June 1960. On June 22nd, 1999, the diocese was again elevated as the new Archdiocese of Nassau.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I wish I was able to give more :-(

The proclamation in Mt 25:41-46 can send shivers through your spine. "Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ l And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

I thought God was the God of love who came to save us and free us from slavery? Yes he is a God of love, so much so that he gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. "Believe" to the extent that what He says is truth. On the day of judgement, we will stand before God and be asked "why should I let you into Heaven?" Our response will probably be because I believed in Jesus Christ and He died for my sins. That should be an easy ticket into Heaven, shouldn't it? But here is what God will probably say in return, "PROVE IT". Now you're grasping for an answer for the way you lived your life for Christ. Scary isn't it?

The Church gives us five obligatory precepts we as Catholics should strive for in accordance with God's commandments as we live a Christian life, and they are(abbreviated):

1. Attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days
2. Go to confession once a year
3. Receive the Eucharist at least once during the Easter season
4. Observe days of fasting and abstinence
5. Assist and provide for the material needs of the Church (according to ones own ability)

These obligatory precepts are minimum guidelines and should not be thought of as all that is required of us as Christians. They assist us in prayer and to grow in love of God and neighbor.

There is always the question about how much funds one is to place in the offertory plate at Church. Some parishioners still tithe 10% while others put what they can or what they want to at the time. What does the Church teach on this matter concerning tithing? There is no secret in the Catholic Church as to how much offertory funds were collected during Sunday Mass service as many of the Catholic Churches locally place the amounts in the bulletin. Assisting the needs of the Church through monetary donations, time and talents is every Christian's responsibility. How have you given to the Church lately?

As hard as it is for many to accept, we are no longer obligated to tithe 10% of our income to the Church, this was binding only on the Jews. Don't be upset if you've been doing so for many years and now learn otherwise. Quite frankly we should be quite generous in our giving for everything we have were given to us from God. We should all be playing a role in the building up of God's Kingdom. Canon law 222 states, "the Christian faithful are obliged to assist with the needs of the Church so that the Church has what is necessary for divine worship, for apostolic works and works of charity, and for the decent sustenance of ministers. They are also obliged to promote social justice and, mindful of the precept of the Lord, to assist the poor from their own resources."

In everything that we do for God it should come from the heart and not for our own selfish reasons. If a percentage is your way of ensuring that you do not forget to give back to the Church then that is what works for you. Many people give back to the Church through time and talents in addition to monetary contributions. We are told in scripture how we are to give, 2 Cor 9:6-7; "Consider this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." Do you just give with the expectations of receiving great returns? You'd be surprise to know how many people live their life on the promise that they will receive if they give. There is a big difference between a cheerful giver and one who expects returns.

An example of a cheerful giver is the widow who gave her last two coins when others were putting in a percent from their surplus, Lk 21:1-4. That was the only money she had but she gave without blinking for she gave it from the heart. Parishes provide envelopes for the offertory gift that can help encourage its members to develop a habit of giving. It also allows our youth to see and understand the importance of giving back to their Church by participating in placing the gift in the bag.

Having assisted in the collection of the offering during Church service I've seen many ways in which members place their contribution in the offertory bag. Some hold the funds tightly fisted so not to disclose the value, while some boldly show what they are putting in the bag. By no means does God demand a fixed amount from us. We should not be shameful for the little amount we can give or boastful of the grand amount we can give; we should be giving from the heart. This is why it is so important to encourage the use of the envelopes.

Parishes should encourage the use of envelopes; not as a way to keep account of who tithes, but rather instill in their members the call to follow God's word as He demands of us to give with a generous heart. As a member of a Parish, we should be proud to donate a portion of our earnings, thus expressing to others your pledge to the development and growth of your community and its members. The Church established by Jesus needs our donations to continue the work that Jesus left behind. When we give to the Church, we are actually giving to God. Always remember this!

We attend Church every Sunday and do not know the value of what goes into running a Parish, so it is not a surprise when members feel as though their contributions is not necessary. We have been mandated by God to tithe so it may become necessary for Parishes to break down the needs and obligations of the Church through education.

Currently bulletins list the amount of collection that was taken in, but how many parishioners truly read the bulletin. The media today have painted the picture that the Catholic Church is abundantly rich, thereby planting the notion in many of our minds that we do not need to concern ourselves with the finances. Addressing financial matters to members on a regular basis so as to give a broader picture of the Churches mission and goals is essential in today's times. Consider this as an option to get our parishioners more involved in contributing weekly to our Parishes:

Encourage parishioners to "wrap" their gifts to God. If regular envelope use is a problem you might want to try an occasional announcement like this suggested by Fr. Callahan of the Archdiocese of St. Louis

"Would you give a gift to a friend and not wrap it? Would you take a present to a party and not put your name on it? Please treat your weekly gift to God with the care and respect you would any gift that you give. Wrap it in an envelope and put your name on it. It will make you feel so much better about that gift. Try it some Sunday and see if it doesn’t make you feel a little prouder of your gift. If you need parish envelopes please call the rectory office at 325-8150 (sample phone number)."
"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." Pope John Paul II

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