Catholics and Tithing


I am struck also by the example set by some Protestant groups who practice rather disciplined tithing: 10% of their wages going to their churches.  I wonder how many people in the TLM groups around the country are giving 10% of the income to their parishes.  If Protestants, with their lack of sacraments, can do this, how much more should Catholics, who receiving infinitely more from their shepherds and the Church be willing to ante-up?

Father Z.

21 Responses to Catholics and Tithing

  1. M54 says:

    I was raised Catholic and was even an alter boy when the mass was in Latin.

    Eventually I took my young family and left the Catholic church. This took some doing. We would go to the non-denominational church on Saturday evenings and go to mass on Sunday… just to make sure we had checked off the right boxes.

    After reading this article I am fighing the urge to take up an offense againse the writer. Fr Z., like most protestants do to Catholics, doesn’t hesitate throwing firey darts at the protestants.

    “If Protestants, with their lack of sacraments, can do this, how much more should Catholics, who receiving infinitely more from their shepherds and the Church be willing to ante-up?”

    Wow! there is so much in that one little paragraph. I understand that according to the Catholic teachings we “non-Catholics” are somehow unworthy of the love of our Savior and will not “make it to heaven”. I guess the Bible is incorect when it clearely states that there is nothing that can seperate us from the love of God.. “who receiving infinately more from their shephards.” The sheperds are one of the big reasons I took my family out of the Catholic church. Out of all the decades I attended mass and the sacraments the only Bible I saw was the one the priest had at the alter. I was never, ever encouraged to read the bible. Why was that? Heck, wasn’t it only until the early 1900 when it was legal for Italian Catholics to even own a bible? In my view the sacraments were/are part of the problem with Catholosism. You just know when to show up, stand up, sit down, kneel down and leave. There is no connection with God. There is just guilt if (as a Catholic I do not attend). Oh, and by the way someone made that a sin too! God did not make a sin but somewhere down the road it became a sin.

    Now addressing Tithing. It cracks me up when someone asks or tells me how much they Tithe. It is ten percent of your income but it is much more than that. Let’s say you sell a used car and make some $$$ of of it or a garage sale, or some used college books. The Tithe is ten percent of your INCREASE. And remember God loves a CHEERFUL giver.

    All the time I was in the Catholic Church I was taught things under the “guilt system”. If I don’t go to mass, if I don’t attend on Holy Days, if I don’t go to confession, if I eat meat on Fridays. It was all based on guilt. Finally after six months of attending a worship service outside the Catholic Church and going to mass during t he same weekend I was able to break free from those decades of guilt.

    Here’s (some) of what I’ve learned. You don’t get into Heaven based on checking off the correct boxes or having Catholic/Protestant by your name. You get into heaven by developing a true relationship with the Savior and truely knowing Who He is.

    Fr. Z. you say you are struck by the disciplined tithing ty protestants. How dare you judge all protestants by some man’s doctrine. Let me remind you of Matthew 7:1-1 Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, you shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, itshall be measured to you again.

    I am annoyed by those who think ALL of my Catholic brothers and sisters are in error but also am I annoyed by those in the Catholic Church who think that they are the only way to the Father. After all Holy Scripture says “No one gets to the Father but by the Son.”.

    Running the Race

  2. You are contsructing FAR more than what is there or what is written, and arguing against that which you construct. It is just that simple.

    Father Z is not being mean, he is not being hateful, he is not saying that “non-Catholics are somehow unworthy of the love of our Savior and will not “make it to heaven”.” Why do you infer that much?

    But what we do have, which Protestants do not, are the fullness of the 7 sacraments. Non-denom do not have them, and they argue they don’t need them and that we don’t have them either.

    The rest of the diatribe is so much anger against the tide, and doesn’t really address what is written. I am sorry you felt it was the guilt system. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why people would not feel guilty if they transgress the moral order. Guilt is not a bad thing, it is a moral compass.

    If you want to confront Father Z – go to his website where this comment appeared and discuss it with him.

    I am glad you have confidence in your ability to personally determine what you “really need” – people of good will can and do disagree.

  3. Fr. J. says:

    M54, your impressions of Catholicism as so off base and so typical of the evangelical caricature of the Church, that I wonder if you really were ever a Catholic.

    The Catholic Church does not teach that non Catholics cant go to heaven. I dont know where you got that idea.

    Catholicism is not based on guilt. It is based on grace through the sacraments as understood in the Early Church. Of course we Catholics do seek a relationship with Jesus that is personal. What else is there?

    But, we do not believe that just knowing Jesus is enough. We have to live according to his commands. It is not earning heaven, because we cant do that. But if we do not lead a life as close as we can to following his will, can we say that we really know and love him? How can one love his father and still keep trying to burn his house down?

    I am glad you have learned a few things among the Evangelicals. You might have learned more if you had engaged the Catholic faith enough to go deeper into it. When you tire of the Evangelical shallowness, you will always be welcome home.

  4. M54 says:

    asimplesinner: after rereading my post I can see that I did not write it in love. I thought I had dealt with all of that a long time ago. Forgive me for the tone in which that was written.

    So the fullness of the 7 sacraments that we non-denoms do not have. Is that a “qualifier”. When Jesus the Christ said “take this bread…take this wine” was He not speaking to me as well? When Jesus said, “If I do not go I can not send the Helper” did He not mean he would not send me the Helper too?

    “I am sorry you felt it was the guilt system. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why people would not feel guilty if they transgress the moral order. Guilt is not a bad thing, it is a moral compass.”

    I have to disagree with you here. Every good and perfect thing comes from the Father. Guilt is something not of the Father. Guilt keeps us beating ourself up and calling ourselfs a sinner instead of a saint as Ephesians 1 clearly does. Conviction on the other hand brings repentance where we recognise our sin for what it is and turn from it.

    Fr. J. how condescending of you.

    “M54, your impressions of Catholicism as so off base and so typical of the evangelical caricature of the Church, that I wonder if you really were ever a Catholic.”

    So now to further discredit me I am a liar too! I was an alter boy at St. Mary’s Church on Clairborne Street in Jackson, MS where I also attended a few years of elementary school. I remember Sister Gerald was the Principle. I heard my name over the PA system many times (in my defense it was a very long bus ride). Eventually we opened a Catholic Church in Clinton, MS. (the first one in a staunchly Baptist region). It was a tripple wide modular structure at the time. Do you want me to give you the name of the priest that told my mom what I told him in the confessional for further documentation. He is no longer alive.

    “The Catholic Church does not teach that non Catholics can’t go to heaven. I dont know where you got that idea.”

    When did that change? I was always taught that. Why would I make that up? I remember thinking that I had to get my friend Dale Harris to become a Catholic with me so we could both be in heaven together.

    “I am glad you have learned a few things among the Evangelicals. You might have learned more if you had engaged the Catholic faith enough to go deeper into it.”

    At times I wonder about that. I know it would make my elderly mom happy. But she is resigned to the fact that at least half of her kids have a relationship with the Lord. All of us were raised Catholic. Some of the most spiritually mature people I know are Catholics. But, honestly, they are the exception rather than the rule.

    “When you tire of the Evangelical shallowness, you will always be welcome home.”

    Fr. J. you must be a young priest. First you don’t know that the church used to (apparently) teach you have to be Catholic to get into heaven and then your presentation is so unpolished. You have been condescending, called me a liar and finish with basically “well when you realize how stupid you are come on back”.

    Can’t imagine why I left the church.

    I’m having trouble believeing you are even a priest.

  5. “When Jesus the Christ said “take this bread…take this wine” was He not speaking to me as well? When Jesus said, “If I do not go I can not send the Helper” did He not mean he would not send me the Helper too?”

    Utter and total false dichotomy.

    The invitation is to return to the Barque of Peter where you can have these things. We don’t get them on our own terms. The Church was created by Jesus Christ to bring the grace of the sacraments He instituted.

    Don’t insult Father J. He never called you a liar. Address his actual remarks if you like, otherwise you show a passion in your hand that is not only unbecoming, it is disingenuous. If you want to disagree with him, be my guest. It isn’t edifying and it is remarkably rude. You are a guest here, show some manners.

  6. “I have to disagree with you here. Every good and perfect thing comes from the Father. Guilt is something not of the Father. Guilt keeps us beating ourself up and calling ourselfs a sinner instead of a saint as Ephesians 1 clearly does. Conviction on the other hand brings repentance where we recognise our sin for what it is and turn from it.”

    As, at least your personal reading of Ephesians 1 (with disregard for other scriptures that would suggest there is some fear and trembling involved and behaviors that run the risk of not inherting the kingdom of Heaven)… See Jimmy Akin on “The Practical Problems of Sola Scriptura”

    Don’t be so quick to denigrate guilt. It isn’t good because it doesn’t feel good? It is rather like pain…

    There is a disorder wherein some people simply do not feel pain. Run their hand over a fire, you get nothing… break a bone, you can sing on your way to the hospital, cut yourself deeply and you had better hope you notice the blood before you pass out… you won’t feel the pain. It is called anhidrosis, or CIPA.

    Folks with CIPA should be the happiest luckiest people in the world, right? No pain, no physical suffering… Seems ideal, doesn’t it?

    Folks with CIPA seldom live past the age of 30.

    Why? Their body takes far more abuse than they realize, complications from injury after injury they sustain takes its toll. At night, when you or I sleep, we move around, and we do so for a reason – we feel discomfort even if we are not aware of it and shift, roll over, stop sleeping on our arms. They don’t. In the course of a few decades of pinching nerves, sleeping on arms that loose circulation and causing joint and back alignment problems, there body wears down rather quickly. During formative years on the playground, they have no sense of danger, no healthy fear and respect of getting hurt. Jumping off monkey bars that are too high, scraping up knees, breaking bones – they don’t notice. Many would walk back from recess on a broken bone before someone notices. They don’t hurt, so they have no sense of what does hurt the body and what to avoid.

    Guilt is a compass for a well formed conscious. Transgress that what is good, it is a blessing and gift of God – like the pain we learn to avoid – to get us back on track.

    Once you kill guilt, how can you be sure that you remain in safe waters? How can you know it is not your passions that lead to theologies that justify the turning from guilt? How can we be sure it isn’t attachments to that which we may have to feel guilty over that lead us to a theology that leaves us – rather expediently – without need for that guilt.

  7. M54 says:

    Sorry to belay this point but if I say I was raised Catholic and Fr. J. says because of my remarks that he “realy wonders if I were ever a Catholic”. What would you call that? Quack, quack, it’s a duck.

    “Utter and total false dichotomy.” So then it is exclusive Catholic?

    When Jesus asked the disciples “who do you say that I am” and Peter replied you are the Christ…. Jesus replied… man has not revealed this but my Father and upon this rock I shal build my church. So then is Peter the “rock” or the revelation knowledge of who Jesus is the “rock”? I believe that Jesus was telling all of the disciles that the foundation of the church would be the knowledge that he was the Christ and too break this bread and drink this wine in rememberance of Him.

    Now a bunch of guys may have gotten together later and added some stuff but that is what JESUS said. i’ll go with the Savior.

    As for your guilt getting you back on track good for you. I will do my best to rely on the Helper.

    I truely meant no disrespect for Fr. J. but he doesn’t get to chastize me and tell me I’m less of a person or even Love the Lord less for that matter simply because he does not enjoy my experiences of the sixties and early seventies. I didn’t enjoy them either but I know what I was taught and I know what I experienced.

  8. “Now a bunch of guys may have gotten together later and added some stuff but that is what JESUS said. i’ll go with the Savior.”

    Or at least you will go with what you believe the Savior to have said, based on books that group of guys wrote, codified, protected and now gave to you. They have no authority except to say what IS the Scripture you now use to refute them.

    Consider that some more, where the Bible came from and how you even know the New Testament to be Scripture.

    As for the new false dichotomy of “Good for the guilt, I will rely on the Helper”… Doesn’t that rather pre-suppose that you will not habituate yourself into a situation wherein your personal judgements about the Scripture could well be tainted? Wide is the road…

    As to “Upon this Rock” the reference is to Peter.


    Peter the Rock

    One of the points I try to emphasize when giving a seminar is that you can begin to be an effective apologist right away; you don’t have to wait until you become a theological whiz. Just work with what you know, even if it’s only one fact.

    I illustrate this from my own experience, and you can use this technique the next time you have verses thrown at you by an anti-Catholic.

    Some years ago, before I took a real interest in reading the Bible, I tried to avoid missionaries who came to the door. I had been burned too often. Why open the door, or why prolong the conversation (if they caught me outside the house), when I had nothing to say?

    Sure, I had a Bible. I used it perhaps the way you use yours today: to catch dust that otherwise would gather on the top shelf of the bookcase. It was one of those “family” Bibles, crammed with beautiful color plates and so heavy that my son didn’t outweigh it until he turned five.

    As I said, I had a Bible, but I didn’t turn to it much; so I had little to say about the Bible when missionaries cornered me. I didn’t know to which verses I should refer when explaining the Catholic position.

    For a layman, I suppose I was reasonably well informed about my faith—at least I never doubted it or ceased to practice it—but my own reading had not equipped me for verbal duels.

    Then, one day, I came across a nugget of information that sent a shock wave through the next missionary who rang the bell and that proved to me that becoming skilled in apologetics isn’t really all that difficult. Here’s what happened.

    When I answered the door, the lone missionary introduced himself as a Seventh-Day Adventist. He asked if he could “share” with me some insights from the Bible. I told him to go ahead.

    He flipped from one page to another, quoting this verse and that, trying to demonstrate the errors of the Church of Rome and the manifest truth of his own denomination’s position.

    Not much to say

    Some of the verses I had encountered before. I wasn’t entirely illiterate with respect to the Bible, but many verses were new to me. Whether familiar or not, the verses elicited no response from me, because I didn’t know enough about the Bible to respond effectively.

    Finally the missionary got to Matthew 16:18: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church.”

    “Hold it right there!” I said. “I know that verse. That’s where Jesus appointed Simon the earthly head of the Church. That’s where he appointed him the first pope.” I paused and smiled broadly, knowing what the missionary would say in response.

    I knew he usually didn’t get any defense of the Catholic position at all as he went door to door, but sometimes a Catholic would speak up as I had. He had a reply, and I knew what it would be, and I was ready for it.

    “I understand your thinking,” he said, “but you Catholics misunderstand this verse because you don’t know any Greek. That’s the trouble with your Church and with your scholars. You people don’t know the language in which the New Testament was written. To understand Matthew 16:18, we have to get behind the English to the Greek.”

    “Is that so?” I said, leading him on. I pretended to be ignorant of the trap being laid for me.

    “Yes,” he said. “In Greek, the word for rock is petra, which means a large, massive stone. The word used for Simon’s new name is different; it’s Petros, which means a little stone, a pebble.”

    In reality, what the missionary was telling me at this point was false. As Greek scholars—even non-Catholic ones—admit, the words petros and petra were synonyms in first century Greek. They meant “small stone” and “large rock” in some ancient Greek poetry, centuries before the time of Christ, but that distinction had disappeared from the language by the time Matthew’s Gospel was rendered in Greek. The difference in meaning can only be found in Attic Greek, but the New Testament was written in Koine Greek—an entirely different dialect. In Koine Greek, both petros and petra simply meant “rock.” If Jesus had wanted to call Simon a small stone, the Greek lithos would have been used. The missionary’s argument didn’t work and showed a faulty knowledge of Greek. (For an Evangelical Protestant Greek scholar’s admission of this, see D. A. Carson, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984], Frank E. Gaebelein, ed., 8:368).

    “You Catholics,” the missionary continued, “because you don’t know Greek, imagine that Jesus was equating Simon and the rock. Actually, of course, it was just the opposite. He was contrasting them. On the one side, the rock on which the Church would be built, Jesus himself; on the other, this mere pebble. Jesus was really saying that he himself would be the foundation, and he was emphasizing that Simon wasn’t remotely qualified to be it.”

    “Case closed,” he thought.

    It was the missionary’s turn to pause and smile broadly. He had followed the training he had been given. He had been told that a rare Catholic might have heard of Matthew 16:18 and might argue that it proved the establishment of the papacy. He knew what he was supposed to say to prove otherwise, and he had said it.

    “Well,” I replied, beginning to use that nugget of information I had come across, “I agree with you that we must get behind the English to the Greek.” He smiled some more and nodded. “But I’m sure you’ll agree with me that we must get behind the Greek to the Aramaic.”

    “The what?” he asked.

    “The Aramaic,” I said. “As you know, Aramaic was the language Jesus and the apostles and all the Jews in Palestine spoke. It was the common language of the place.”

    “I thought Greek was.”

    “No,” I answered. “Many, if not most of them, knew Greek, of course, because Greek was the lingua franca of the Mediterranean world. It was the language of culture and commerce; and most of the books of the New Testament were written in it, because they were written not just for Christians in Palestine but also for Christians in places such as Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch, places where Aramaic wasn’t the spoken language.

    “I say most of the New Testament was written in Greek, but not all. Many hold that Matthew was written in Aramaic—we know this from records kept by Eusebius of Caesarea—but it was translated into Greek early on, perhaps by Matthew himself. In any case the Aramaic original is lost (as are all the originals of the New Testament books), so all we have today is the Greek.”

    I stopped for a moment and looked at the missionary. He seemed a bit uncomfortable, perhaps doubting that I was a Catholic because I seemed to know what I was talking about. I continued.

    Aramaic in the New Testament

    “We know that Jesus spoke Aramaic because some of his words are preserved for us in the Gospels. Look at Matthew 27:46, where he says from the cross, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ That isn’t Greek; it’s Aramaic, and it means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’

    “What’s more,” I said, “in Paul’s epistles—four times in Galatians and four times in 1 Corinthians—we have the Aramaic form of Simon’s new name preserved for us. In our English Bibles it comes out as Cephas. That isn’t Greek. That’s a transliteration of the Aramaic word Kepha (rendered as Kephas in its Hellenistic form).

    “And what does Kepha mean? It means a rock, the same as petra. (It doesn’t mean a little stone or a pebble. What Jesus said to Simon in Matthew 16:18 was this: ‘You are Kepha, and on this kepha I will build my Church.’

    “When you understand what the Aramaic says, you see that Jesus was equating Simon and the rock; he wasn’t contrasting them. We see this vividly in some modern English translations, which render the verse this way: ‘You are Rock, and upon this rock I will build my church.’ In French one word, pierre, has always been used both for Simon’s new name and for the rock.”

    For a few moments the missionary seemed stumped. It was obvious he had never heard such a rejoinder. His brow was knit in thought as he tried to come up with a counter. Then it occurred to him.

    “Wait a second,” he said. “If kepha means the same as petra, why don’t we read in the Greek, ‘You are Petra, and on this petra I will build my Church’? Why, for Simon’s new name, does Matthew use a Greek word, Petros, which means something quite different from petra?”

    “Because he had no choice,” I said. “Greek and Aramaic have different grammatical structures. In Aramaic you can use kepha in both places in Matthew 16:18. In Greek you encounter a problem arising from the fact that nouns take differing gender endings.

    “You have masculine, feminine, and neuter nouns. The Greek word petra is feminine. You can use it in the second half of Matthew 16:18 without any trouble. But you can’t use it as Simon’s new name, because you can’t give a man a feminine name—at least back then you couldn’t. You have to change the ending of the noun to make it masculine. When you do that, you get Petros, which was an already-existing word meaning rock.

    “I admit that’s an imperfect rendering of the Aramaic; you lose part of the play on words. In English, where we have ‘Peter’ and ‘rock,’ you lose all of it. But that’s the best you can do in Greek.”

    Beyond the grammatical evidence, the structure of the narrative does not allow for a downplaying of Peter’s role in the Church. Look at the way Matthew 16:15-19 is structured. After Peter gives a confession about the identity of Jesus, the Lord does the same in return for Peter. Jesus does not say, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are an insignificant pebble and on this rock I will build my Church. . . . I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus is giving Peter a three-fold blessing, including the gift of the keys to the kingdom, not undermining his authority. To say that Jesus is downplaying Peter flies in the face of the context. Jesus is installing Peter as a form of chief steward or prime minister under the King of Kings by giving him the keys to the kingdom. As can be seen in Isaiah 22:22, kings in the Old Testament appointed a chief steward to serve under them in a position of great authority to rule over the inhabitants of the kingdom. Jesus quotes almost verbatum from this passage in Isaiah, and so it is clear what he has in mind. He is raising Peter up as a father figure to the household of faith (Is. 22:21), to lead them and guide the flock (John 21:15-17). This authority of the prime minister under the king was passed on from one man to another down through the ages by the giving of the keys, which were worn on the shoulder as a sign of authority. Likewise, the authority of Peter has been passed down for 2000 years by means of the papacy.

    My turn to pause

    I stopped and smiled. The missionary smiled back uncomfortably, but said nothing. We exchanged smiles for about thirty seconds. Then he looked at his watch, noticed how time had flown, and excused himself. I never saw him again.

    So what came of this encounter? Two things—one for me, one for him.

    I began to develop a sense of confidence. I began to see that I could defend my faith if I engaged in a little homework. The more homework, the better the defense.

    I realized that any literate Catholic—including you—could do the same. You don’t have to suspect your faith might be untrue when you can’t come up with an answer to a pointed question.

    Once you develop a sense of confidence, you can say to yourself, “I may not know the answer to that, but I know I could find the answer if I hit the books. The answer is there, if only I spend the time to look for it.”

    And what about the missionary? Did he go away with anything? I think so. I think he went away with a doubt regarding his understanding (or lack of understanding) of Catholics and the Catholic faith. I hope his doubt has since matured into a sense that maybe, just maybe, Catholics have something to say on behalf of their religion and that he should look more carefully into the Faith he once so confidently opposed.

    —Karl Keating

    NIHIL OBSTAT: I have concluded that the materials
    presented in this work are free of doctrinal or moral errors.
    Bernadeane Carr, STL, Censor Librorum, August 10, 2004

    IMPRIMATUR: In accord with 1983 CIC 827
    permission to publish this work is hereby granted.
    +Robert H. Brom, Bishop of San Diego, August 10, 2004

  9. james g says:


    No one is saying you were not taught what you claim you were taught, only that what you claim you were taught is not and was not the Church’s teaching on the subject. The Church does not teach that all non-Catholics are invariably damned. In fact, not long before you would have been taught erroneously on the subject, the Church censured and even excommunicated a priest who taught just that error. Then as now there are those within the Church who teach error, even those who’s job it is to teach.

    I must confess that I am at a loss as to why you even posted on this thread. Fr. Z’s quoted comment was not Catholic vs. Protestant; it was holding up Protestants as a good example in an area where many Catholics are deficient. There was no judgment; it was a complement.

    I do not know what there is to object to in regards to Fr. Z’s comment. That Protestants do not have the Sacraments (excepting Baptism and Holy Matrimony) is an objective fact. Protestants do not have the Eucharist, Holy Orders, Confirmation, Extreme Unction, or Confession. Protestants seem to think that they get along just fine without them so where’s the complaint.

    “When Jesus the Christ said ‘take this bread…take this wine’ was He not speaking to me as well?” – Aye, Jesus was speaking to you. However, to speak plainly, whatever it is you do on Sundays it is not following our Lord’s express commands concerning this Body and Blood.

    It was also the Sacraments that Father Z was specifically referring to when he wrote, “…who [receive] infinitely more from their shepherds and the Church…” I’m sorry that your anti-clericalism causes you to interpret this line in a manner contradictory to that intended by the author (and what is “The sheperds[sic] are one of the big reasons I took my family out of the Catholic church” if not anti-clericalism?). However, that is your problem and not Fr. Z’s.

    “Out of all the decades I attended mass and the sacraments the only Bible I saw was the one the priest had at the alter.” Why should there be a need for another Bible at mass? The Bible is read aloud to the congregation; it is not elementary school where everyone is expected to read along, it is Mass.

    You obviously have issues with the Catholic Church because of what you erroneously believe her positions to be. If you had have been accurately taught the Church’s teaching you might not have these issues. I hope you find peace through our Lord and Savior.

  10. M54 says:

    James g:

    You are, in fact, that I do have issues with my history as it relates to the Catholic Church.

    No since in argueing. Even the thief on the cross was with Jesus that day in paradise. He (the thief) did not have a single sacrament only admited that he was a sinner.

    Running the Race

  11. Fr. J. says:

    Actually, he had the sacrament of confession. And he was absolved by the priest hanging at his side.

  12. Fr. J. says:

    M54. You were “always” taught that only Catholics could go to heaven? I dont know what you mean by “always.” But, it is hard to believe that you were “always” taught somethng that the Catholic Church doesnt teach.

    In fact, M54, in the 50’s there was a group of Catholics in the Boston area who professed that only Catholics could go to heaven and Rome excommunicated them for the false teaching. They were called the Feenyites. Look it up. And their excommunication took place in the 50’s, so it wasnt just a Vatican II thing, either. So, your vague impressions of Catholic teaching really are that far off base. Perhaps much of what you are certain about in Catholic teaching is just as far off base. And it was this miscariterization which makes me question the extent of your Catholic education.

    I grew up with my father going to an Evangelical church. I know the evangelicals have all kinds of half-truths they say about the Catholic Church and you have said some of them. This is also why I wonder if you really were a Catholic.

    Seriously, there is no bible on the altar in a Catholic Church. There is a book of readings from the Bible on the pulpit, lectern or ambo. Anyone who grew up Catholic and was an altar server would know the difference between the pulpit and the altar and at least use somewhat the correct terminology. It is usually those who know next to nothing of Catholicism that have the image of a bible on an altar because that is where Protestants put the bible. Another reason I suspect you may not have been raised Catholic.

  13. M54 says:

    Fr. J. I mean you no disrespect. Your further defense of the Catholic Church does nothing but too drive me further into my long standing conviction of the same.

    By “always” I mean that to this day until just a couple of years ago sitting at my mother’s kitchen table discussing just this issue was the first time since childhood that I heard that other than Catholics could be allowed into heaven. I am now 53yrs old.

    Good news for me.

    Regarding the sacraments. The Bible says confess your sins one to another. That is the path I have chosen and works best for me.

    Regarding no Bible in Catholic churches. I couldn’t even memorize the Confeteor deyo omni potentey prayer properly so I’m not surprised I got other stuff wrong. And I am absolutely I mispelled all of that. You know the part where we walked up the isle and kneeled on either side of the priest and bent forward to recite the prayer. We all dressed in the black robe then the little half white robe. I liked like ringing the bell. What was it, ringing when the hands are over the chalace, the raising the host and I forget the third. But as I say that was over forty years ago.

  14. Fr. J. says:

    M54, we definitely got off on the wrong foot. Perhaps it was the attack mode tone with which you opened the comments. I am pleased to have more dignified conversations. In fact, I prefer them. But, yes, I will defend the Church like my own mother, because that is who she is. And, frankly, I am tired of Catholics not defending the faith and taking all the crud that all kinds of people dish out. It’s not just evangelicals, but secularists, gays, people who are embittered by their past sins like those who have had abortions, divorces, extramarital sex, substance abuse or any manner of people with a guilty conscience. Yes, we have to put up with all of it, not to mention the way Hollywood goes after Catholics for the same reasons. I would hope that this would be less common coming from evangelicals, but it does not seem to be.

    I had a nun in the 9th grade, an Immaculate Heart of Mary sister. She was the real thing with the deep blue habit and black veil and all. She had worked in the South and told us how she had been spat upon and jeered by Baptists and others in the streets. Now we have the internet. Is it really that much better? Anyway, she taught us to stand up for the Church and to not let anyone walk all over us. We dont need to be aggressive. But, we need to be strong. Her words are still with me.

    So, if you are willing to change your tone, I would very much like to have a more civil conversation with you.

  15. Fr. J. says:

    And Christ said to the apostles “And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.'” John 20:22,23

    This is tomorrow’s gospel which will be read from the pulpit and in most Catholic churches the congregation will read along in a missalette or hymnal.

    By the way, tomorrow is the feast of Pentecost, for those Christians who maintain the liturgical calendar as followed by the early church. Happy Feast Day.

  16. M54 says:

    Fr. J. I do not believe that there are any coincidences on this Earth. Out of the millions of bloggers I could have run across you are one of just (literally) a handful. So perhaps this is the beginning of something more meaningful.

    As a matter of fact, last night as I lay in bed I was pondering your original post on the difference in the “two camps” tithing.

    I believe it is the condition of the heart.

  17. Fr. J. says:

    M54, I agree with you about coincidences. My favorite quote of John Paul II is

    “In the designs of Providence,
    there is no such thing as coincidence.”

    My father is an evangelical and I grew up in a tithing household. Besides the “prosperity gospel” aspect which I agree with in part, I must say with you that tithing really is a matter of the heart. If it is just about finances, forget it, I dont think God really cares that much about balance sheet, church, household or otherwise.

    About the prosperity gospel, I do agree that by placing ourselves more in the mercy of the Lord he takes care of us all the more. So, if I have money problems putting something extra in the plate or giving away some extra to someone in greater need is an outward act of an inner spiritual trust and dependence. In Catholic terms it is sacramental, as a sacrament is an outward sign of an inner or spiritual reality. And Catholics definitely get sacramentals.

    Where I think the prosperity gospel that is so popular in evangelical circles goes wrong in my opinion is the supposition that God really wants us all to be rich. The other aspect that gets abused is that the only place God wants us to be generous is to our church or preacher. There are a lot of preachers who have gotten rich off of poor congregations based on the prosperity gospel. And, I just dont think that is what God is trying to do.

    We give, to grow in the virtue of generosity. Virtues when practiced flourish in us. We should not give in order to get rich. That is not spirituality, that is a scheme. We out to give out love for God and others as in the case of the widow’s mite. She likely gave more than 10% before or after paying the IRS.

    So, as I see it, tithing is an act of gratitude and an act of entrustment. If things are tight and I give the tithe anyway, it is like saying Lord, I trust you more than myself, take care of me and my family.

  18. M54 says:

    Okay now we are finally on the same page. Except with a little terminology.

    I never have been able to take hold of the ole “prosperity gosple”. Although I know it is Scriptural.

    To me “entrustment” = faith and faith is a verb. Like a muscle, if you don’t exercise your muscles they will become useless. I also think that tithing is more than gratitude. Maybe it begins with gratitude but we should tithe AND give out of love for our Lord. Not only for the blessings He has so graciously allowed us to experience but also for those harmful things we may never know He has kept at bay. The car didn’t start and we were delayed fifteen minutes. Maybe we missed a catastrophee. Just things we may never know.

    I can’t speak for others but I will tell you about my family. But look, don’t get all in an uproar. I’m just going to be as honest as I know how. When I was a child I knew my mom and dad put money in the offering plate each Sunday but they never talked about it. We didn’t talk about a lot of things, so tithing wasn’t singled out. When I started my family we would put money in the offering plate put it was mostly out of “abundance”.

    When we left the Catholic Church and entered into an non-denominational church that is when we received our first teaching on tithing. It was in a “New Members” class. The Associate Pastor used oranges and a big shovle. “You’ve got ten oranges and God only wants you to give him one. He doesn’t NEED your orange but He want’s you to show Him how much you love Him and trust Him.” That was the jist of it and was about 12 or 13 years ago. That’s when we first started tithing. I mean realy tithing. As we grew in our faith we also gave gifts (over and above the tithing).

    One teaching I like on tithing is the one about God doesn’t NEED your money. He owns the cows on a thousand hills and owns the hills too.

    Regarding the original premise on why Catholics may not tithe as well as non Catholics. The Bible says that the eyes are the window into the soul. Month after month as your parishoners sit in their pews and they see these big ole Catholic churches it may be difficult for them to imagine that somehow it is their spriritual “duty” to tithe.

    Additionally, I have been a member of my local church for about five years now. I have only heard my pastor give one message on tithing in that entire time. Now don’t get me wrong, he has made known when there was a need but so far as dedicating an entire message on tithing… just once.

    Our current attendance is (I think) between 200-250 each Sunday and we just “purchased” almost 12 acres just out side of town to build a new sanctuary. We have been at the local mall for almost 5 years.

    Maybe you could teach the kids that song “God loves a cheerful giver.” Then in 15-20 years you’ll have this tithing thing licked.

    Hope some of this helps.

    His richest blessings in all that you put your hands to.

    Running the Race

  19. nan says:


    With regard to confessing sins to one another, how do you determine to whom to confess? To whom is it appropriate to confess? Do you formally ask if you can confess to the person? Do you confess to someone you know or to a stranger? How do you know what the sins are (failing a tip sheet)? My only experience with an evangelical church was a visit to my roommates church in college…which freaked me out about the same amount as the Newman Center because in my world nuns don’t run hither and yon with guitar and singing during church, nor should the lights all be turned off to play Genesis (the instrumental music of the beginning of the universe). That was enough to scare me right downtown! To the regular Catholic church.

    I’m curious because my preferred method of confession is the traditional anonymous Catholic confessional; I much prefer anonymity to fact-to-face or by appointment (shudder). While I have posted TMI in the comboxes here before, it was for a reason. To me, confession is of sufficient importance that the person confessed to should have an expectation of dealing with people’s personal crap as well as training and experience to back that up. The Seal of Confessional is an added bonus because it ensures your personal bid’ness isn’t shared with others.

  20. Fr. J. says:

    With only 250 in attendance each Sunday, I am left to wonder at all the good things God could do with the 11 acres your congregation doesnt need. This is one of the points that gets me with evangelicals. They think the only worthy thing to do with their tithe is to give it to the pastor. I strenuously disagree with this. Catholics are enormously generous to the poor and that is part of what the prosperity gospel misses.

    There are plenty of historical and sociological reasons various Christians give what they do. It is not only a matter of preaching. Hispanic Catholics are not the most generous group in the Church, but the 25% percent of their income they send back to their families, I would count as more than a tithe.

  21. M54 says:

    I don’t think anyone could disagree that the Catholic Church is renowned with it’s charitable work.

    Regarding the tithe; my “job” is to be that “cheerful giver” the Pastor will one day have to answer questions about what was done with “God’s money”.

    I will say, however, that we currently support missionaries in … I think it four or five different countries.

    Of course you know, Father, that not all of that acerage will be “usable” land. Grand Trees can not be cut down, wet lands, etc. The area is kind of rural and it is my understanding that it will be used for out-reach typ ministries (soccer, softball) something to get the “unchurched” in to the House of God.

    Off topic a bit here. I remember as an 8 or 9 year old boy standind in the front yard of my grandparents house in Southern Louisiana. It was my uncle Jeff, my mom, my dad and me. Uncle Jeff’s daughter had already become a nun and his son was a Brother (who by the way is in Australia now (Jeff Calligan)) and I mentioned t hat I may want to become a priest one day. Uncle Jeff offered to by me a new lawn mower to cut yards with if I promised him not to.

    I think those of us that love the Lord should band together and not worry so much about titles or names given by different camps.

    Running the Race

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