Early in my life, I did not really know how much I was loved by God and that he could never be outdone in generosity. I discovered the more I received God’s love, the more joyful, fulfilled and generous I became. The reason is because receiving God’s love (often called charity) gives us the grace to seek the good of others and enables us to love ourselves as God does.
This type of love is a deep, fraternal loving friendship and shared communion of God’s love in and through us. Such love enables us to realize that our deepest desires and potential as human beings are fulfilled.
Growing in charity toward God and others was not always easy as I, like all of us, have disordered desires to be self seeking. Having grown up on a farm with a conservative mentality of saving money to grow the farm, I was very guarded in sharing my financial resources with the Church or others. However, I was also blessed with the incredible witness of my parents who were generous to our parish, Catholic schools and other charities.
Unfortunately, I was slow to grow in financial generosity except in small ways, always coming up with some excuse of why I shouldn’t tithe my earnings. However, God kept patiently working on me to taste the goodness of interior freedom related to money and possessions.
Eventually I decided to tithe, and what a significant gift that has been in my life—interior freedom from attachments to money and possessions and the joy of giving without trying to count the cost because God is never outdone in generosity.
The word tithing comes from a Hebrew word which means “a tenth,” and there are over 100 passages in Scripture that speak about it. In the Old Testament, tithing refers to God’s call for everyone to give 10 percent of their annual earnings back to God. In the New Testament, that is taken as a standard, but the ante is upped: St. Paul, for instance, instructs Christians to “set aside and save whatever one can afford” for the collection (1 Cor. 16:2; emphasis added).
More recently, the well-known Venerable Fulton Sheen once said, “Never measure your generosity by what you give, but rather by what you have left.” So to use 10 percent as a starting point, I have found five percent given to my local parish (now diocese as bishop) and five percent given to other charities to be a good blend of generosity to the good works of the Church and other good charities.
Tithing 10 percent or even more has helped me shift my mindset from being possessive to being a steward of the gifts God has given to me to be used for good. I wish I had the space in this column to share the many graces God has blessed me with since I began to tithe. For the sake of brevity, I can say it has been and is still truly amazing to learn the crucial lesson of asking God how he desires me to be a steward of his gifts.
He invites us to give generously and to do so with a joyful spirit, for as St. Paul also notes, “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:7). And when we do so, oh what joy, freedom and God’s love for the good work of the Church and other charities God provides if we choose to live in the love of God and share it with him and others.
I invite you to pray and join me in being generous in our response to God’s many blessings as stewards, so we can help others get to heaven by striving each day to be Lifelong Catholic Missionary Disciples Through God’s Love. I hope our Bulletin articles this month help demonstrate some of the good works the Church has been able to do through the generosity of so many wonderful people in our diocese.
Know of my prayers for great receptivity of God’s love this month.