Sometimes we, as Catholics, face questions from disgruntled Catholics and non-Catholics alike about the Church's resources and wealth. Usually, somewhere in the conversation, we hear remarks about the Vatican's bank, property and art. Often people quote some value of those resources to be in the millions, or even billions, and how the Church would be so much better off if those resources were sold and the money used for the poor. Then the conversation moves toward the hypocrisy of the Church who says we should care for the poor but have all of these riches stored up. Well…
There is great danger in justifying our particular lifestyle as institution or individuals by saying we can have these things because we do these things. In an effort to walk that fine line of justification, there is a brief response to comments about the Church's wealth. Simply put, the Catholic Church has done more than any organization in history to attend to the poor. Consider missionaries, Catholic schools and Catholic hospitals. Over the years, the Church has been among the first into many areas which were and are impoverished to provide charitable care for real human beings. The care is not theoretical or hypothetical, the care is real. And the world is better for the courageous care the Church has provided. None of that work is to justify, the work is done because it's the right thing to do according to the Gospel. Remember to look at the full picture of things before judgment is passed.
Locally we need to continue to be mindful of the charitable works within our own region which is accomplished through countless volunteer hours from people in our parish. Consider the PCCW and the KofC as starters. Then consider what our parish does through the Food Pantry and periodic utility assistance or rent assistance which we offer. Simply put, our parish charitable works, accomplished through the Pastor's Office, is often completed without fanfare, glitz and glamour. And, most important of all, people benefit from our generosity.
How might the Pastor's charitable work get funded? That's a really good question with some really good answers. Parish charity is funded through generosity from people like you. Are you willing and ready to contribute to the Works of Charity? Also, our Diocese of La Crosse sets some standards, too. Families are asked to contribute specified amounts at certain life moments. Those contributions are used for the Works of Charity account. So, at each Baptism, families are asked to offer $10. At each Marriage, $75. At each Funeral, $50. Of course, if people offer more than that, the difference is used according to the Pastor's discretion. And, if families offer a gift to the officiant, he uses that gift according to his discretion.
Consequently, because there are decreasing numbers of baptisms and marriages in our Catholic churches, the funds in the Charity account are also minimal. So, what happens in most circumstances, is funds are transferred from parish operating funds to support the parish charitable works. Gratefully, in our local situation, there are minimal demands on the Charity account and I'm rather careful about what is given out. All of that helps preserve the Charitable work in our area.
Ultimately, we continue to remember that charity is one of the primary virtues we are asked to model throughout our lives as Christians. So, whether we are supporting charity personally, communally, or universally we continue to strive to become more generous with our resources to those who are less fortunate than we are. Included in charity is time, talent and treasure, so, when measuring your generosity, use those guidelines as your measuring stick.
Again, on a local level, we are always on the lookout for generosity. Perhaps you will consider becoming more involved in the PCCW, KofC, Food Pantry or other volunteer opportunities. Perhaps you will consider offering some of your financial resources to support the parish Works of Charity account. Overall, perhaps you will commit just a little more time praying for those involved in charitable works so God's compassion will be known more profoundly in the lives of the people we serve.
from the Office for Catechesis and EvangelizationBACK TO LIST