Dear Parish Family,
One of the things that Jesus talked about the most in the Scriptures was prayer. It was the center of his life and he consistently talked about praying and “went off to pray” in many scenes from the Bible. But there is another topic he talked about much more than prayer – in fact, five times more! Interestingly, that topic is money.
Jesus knew that people’s relationship with money was one of the most confusing and complex aspects of their lives. He emphasized that having a good relationship with money takes work and a clear sense of purpose. We can’t manage our money in a holy way unless we have a plan.
Jesus knew that in order to thrive, every human being must give some of his or her money to a greater purpose. Any person who doesn’t give some of their income to causes that make a difference and people in need is sure to become stagnant and spiritually sick. Our souls are counting on us to give in order to maintain a sense of balance and equilibrium. Our resources need to flow into our lives and out through our lives. Any flow that comes in without a “spillway” or outlet will soon become stagnant and covered with algae. (That’s why the word “affluence” has the root from “fluid.”)
In the same way, there can be no affluence without flow.
While Jesus makes it clear that we must plan to give in order to remain spiritually healthy, he doesn’t stipulate how much we are supposed to give. Only God can tell us what that figure should be in our particular life situation. We have to take this to our prayer time and ask the Holy Spirit to show us what that figure should be.
A helpful way to interpret what the Spirit is telling you is to imagine picturing it as a percentage. Some of us have never thought of this, but in actuality, no one is meant to live on 100% of his or her income. Could you imagine living on 95% of your income and giving the rest to God in the form of church and charity donations? Could you live on even a bit less of your income than that and give away even more? Only God can tell you what’s right for you.
I have felt God calling me to live on 90% of my income. This allows me to give 10% to God in the form of donations. When I was the pastor of two churches in Coxsackie and Ravena, I gave 2.5% of my income to each church. Now that I’m the pastor of St. Mary’s, I give that 5% full amount to our parish. I am an e-giver who gives once a month and it gives me a great sense of satisfaction to see that money go to the needs of our parish. Because I oversee the Finance Council, I know that money goes to fund youth programs… provide for ministries for those who suffer… support our outstanding staff in the work they do… maintain our beautiful and historic buildings… and make a difference in the lives of so many.
St. Mary’s is not the only organization doing God’s work, so I reserve the other 5% of my excess income for causes I care about. I have decided to give 1% of my income each year to St. Mary’s-St. Alphonsus Regional Catholic School because I deeply believe in the mission and value of Catholic Education here in Glens Falls. That leaves me 4% for the other organizations that matter to me. Because people funded the cost of my education to become a priest, I want to pay that forward and offer seminarians the chance to follow God’s call in their lives, so I have decided to give 0.5% of my annual income to the Diocesan Appeal. That way I’ll know that priests-in-training like Fr. Matt Duclos will have the support they need to complete their training and serve our Catholic parishes for the next half century. That still gives me $120 a month that I can spend on any organizations that move my conscience and capture my heart. This allows me to give to causes I care about like, among others, St. Jude Children’s Hospital, environmental preservation causes, North Country Ministry, The Open Door Mission, Catholic Charities, Next Steps and the child I sponsor in Bolivia through Unbound.
Giving is an essential part of maintaining spiritual equilibrium. What is God asking you to give? It takes courage to ask God that question, but the rewards are so, so many.