Monday, January 12, 2009

Gifts Insufficient

I’m exhausted. Nothing happened, Sasha slept. I just haven’t been myself lately.

I did see something online, which has been an ongoing theme of I’ve heard, especially in the weekly Homily or in the letters we get from our Parish or Diocese. Pretty much always demanding money. And saying what we give is not sufficient.

I give weekly. I give what I believe to be a fair amount—it would pay for a nice date. And this is every week without fail, so it ends up being a nice chunk of change.

The letters we received most recently sent us a note requesting we increase that and sign a pledge (that they’d kindly filled out for us, minus the signature) to give $250 a week, as they were seeking that as their new “minimum”. If that is the amount it takes to be “giving the minimum,” I really don’t know how many families can afford that. No wonder there’s the idea that we’re stingy with supporting our faith-based institutions. I don’t see too many middle-class families putting that in the collection plate without sending themselves right into the poorhouse. And our parish is largely working-class, so why they'd expect that of anyone boggles me. It could though go far in explaining why parishes claim they aren't getting their due. Perhaps what they feel is "due" is ridiculous.

Then there’s the statement that “no one gives to charity”.

I just don’t see it.

There’s a charity for everything. And no matter where you go, you are hit up for one. Give a dollar to homeless animals? Give five dollars to feed the hungry? Give to XXXX shelter? And outside the stores? There’s every booster, youth club, church bake sale, etc imaginable. It’s enough to have you just shut down.

Not to say we have, we’ve just become choosy. We give to select charities in our own way. Some we give money too. Some we give time too. Some we give supplies to.

So we don’t give to everyone out there ringing a bell or asking for a set amount or calling our house (though kids knocking on the door tend to always get money. My husband always becomes putty to every child and so every troop/band/team/youth group/etc probably within 30 miles is in part sponsored by us). We can’t. No one I know of can. Most people I know do give, and give a substantial sum (for them and their circumstances). But they do it with research and caution and pick charities that seem to manage themselves well and support causes they believe in.

I won’t be giving over a grand a month to my parish, but I have increased our budget for charity and added new charities to gift to, as we’ve been blessed this year. The Spirits need not visit us, or probably most others. Maybe the gifting to individual groups has been dropping off, but maybe the growth and number of organizations…and their expectations of what we, the people, can give them need to be taken into account.

Yes, people in recent years have been quite well off. But this seemingly pervasive beleif that we all (meaning those in my age group and class) have flat screens, HD, Wiis, and high-end luxury goods and are awash in selfish materialism...I don't know where it comes from. I am tired of it, and wish it'd go away.

1 comment:

caramama said...

I totally agree with you. And instead of telling (g)you that (g)you aren't giving enough, shouldn't they be thanking everyone who gives and saying what they were able to accomplish with that money (like that church in the article)? That would make me want to give more. I don't like to be guilted into things. (I'm not Catholic, can you tell?)

I've always thought that tithing was pretty incredible. No, churches don't get federal support. Yes they have to pay the bills. But we and others we know are donating to other charities, too. Like you said, there are many charities out there, and the ones who support causes that I'm passionate about and that put most of the donated money towards the cause are more likely to get my money than others, including my church.

I can't believe your church is asking for $250 minimum every week, especially during this recession when people are having trouble paying for the roofs over their heads!