The Giving of Treasure
Question: Why are Catholics required to give money to the Church?
Answer: Offering money and other goods to God and the Church is, before all else, a statement of gratitude. We see this when we look at how our spiritual ancestors showed their gratitude to God for the gifts they had received (e.g. Genesis 14:18-20 and Genesis 28:16-22). One of the ways they offered thanks to God was through a practice called “tithing,” in which 10 percent of a person’s goods (crops, livestock, money, etc.) were given back to God.
Today, the practice of tithing — giving 10 percent — is still common in many Protestant communities, but it is not required for Catholics. Instead, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that, “The faithful also have the duty of providing for the material needs of the Church, each according to [their] own abilities” (no. 2043). This means that, although we are not bound to practice “tithing” in the traditional sense, we do share a responsibility to share our money or other resources with our parish communities. Like our spiritual ancestors, we give as a sign of our gratitude for the many gifts that God has given to us. Beyond this, we also share our resources with other Catholic organizations to help them finance their ministries, to continue and grow their outreach to the poor and the needy, and to provide just wages for their employees.
How much we give depends on our individual circumstances, but since we share a responsibility for the programs, outreach, and health of our parish communities and Catholic organizations, this question gives us a wonderful opportunity to ask some important questions about the quality of our giving and what our priorities are. Remember, we are only stewards of our time, talents, and treasures and as the First Letter of Peter reminds us, “As each one of you has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied graces” (4:10).