My Dear Parishioners
Today I wish to bring to your attention a new program that is being introduced in our parish. It is called, "Sacrificial Giving". The purpose of this program is to assist us in thinking about how much of our personal or family income we are willing and able to share with both our church and those in our society who are deeply in need and then to invite us to make a commitment in that regard.
Since I have come to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish I have found all the parishioners to be extremely generous with their time, their talent and their financial resources. When there has been a need people have been extremely willing to give what they could in support of whatever the cause was. For that I am both edified and grateful.
From talking to numerous parishioners I know that people's patterns of financial giving are quite diverse. Some give exactly the same amount every week. Others give the same amount but contribute once per month or once every six months. Others, don't have a set amount and give a portion of whatever they have available in their wallet come the weekend. Others give differing amounts sporadically throughout the year when money becomes available to them. Every person has a different approach to giving that reflects the circumstances of their lives.
This Sacrificial Giving program invites us to think about our giving in a new way. Sacrificial Giving requires of us that we put God's priorities before our own, that we put the support of God's Church and its mission as well as the needs of community charities before our own pleasure and comfort. In other words, we give a planned, proportionate amount of our income in gratitude for all that God has given us. This can lead us into a closer relationship with God because if we are giving an amount that is truly a sacrifice, then we are giving away something we thought we needed for ourselves, believing that our security lies not in our material wealth but in God.
"I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the temple treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood." (Mark 12: 43 - 44)
God does not judge us by how much we give but by how faithful we are in making that gift. The extent to which we give our material goods away in faith to help others will be the measure by which we are judged.
Those who make such sacrifices in gratitude to God find that:
- their own needs are still met,
- they are more aware of God's love and care,
- it is easier to distinguish between needs and wants, and
- a sense of peace comes from knowing that their gift to God is no longer just what is left over or a contribution out of habit.
Sometimes it is hard to decide what is a proportionate gift. It has for centuries been a tradition in the church that we use the biblical tithe as a measure. However, since most today actually give less than one percent of their income to charity, to think of giving 10% would be asking for a huge leap of faith. However, with 10 % as a measure, we must each begin at a level that is reasonable and not make the mistaken assumption that if we cannot afford to contribute 10% that it is somehow a sign of a lack of faith.
In this day and age, the parish is not the only organization that is in need of your dollar. There are many very worthy charities today that need your support in order to continue to provide to the community the service they offer. And, I know, again from talking to many of our parishioners, that they contribute regularly to various charities. This practice needs to be encouraged and to be seen as part of your Sacrificial Giving. Since your financial contribution to the parish is not so much a "charitable" donation as it is a commitment to the support of your own faith community, a reasonable sum to give to the parish would be half of your charitable donations, while the remaining half could be given to various charities.
This Sacrificial Giving program has been thoroughly reviewed by our parish finance committee, in the light of our financial needs, and is being initiated by them with my full support and encouragement. And so, over the weeks ahead as you will be hearing more about this program, I invite you to reflect on what Sacrificial Giving means in your life. Reflect on the actions of God in your life and re-commit yourself to God in gratitude both spiritually and materially.
Yours in Christ
Rev. James Hannah