Worried About Money?

They say polite people never discuss money, sex or religion. I guess I’m not very polite. It seems to me that money, sex and religion are the only three really interesting subjects. Maybe that’s why polite people are so boring.

I found myself worrying about money the other day. I’m privileged to be parish priest of the poorest and smallest parish in town. We’re situated in an area of the city with the most difficult demographic in socio-economic terms. We’re trying to build a splendid new church. Our school buildings are fifty years old and leaky. Our existing buildings are used over capacity and we work on half the budget and manpower we really need. So I worry about money sometimes.

But, as my Sunday School teacher used to say, “Why worry when you can pray?” Praying about your money problems really does help to sort them out. First, by praying you begin to better discern what life is all about and therefore what money is all about. By praying you understand priorities and therefore what you should spend your money on and how it should be used.

To pray about money worries also helps because you begin to realize what money is for. It’s not for buying more toys and trinkets. Your money is given to you for you to be a good steward. Therefore the first thing you do with money is make your tithe.  Yep. First thing you do before anything else–before taxes, before the mortgage, before the groceries even is to give your tithe to God.

When you make your tithe you are telling your money who’s boss. You’re saying to your money, “I’m the boss, and to prove it I’m giving you away. I’m not clinging to you because when I cling to you you cling to me. You enslave me.” I’m going to be financially free, and to attain that attitude I am going to give sacrificially and live sacrificially. Whew! Try doing that sometime! Experience the exhilaration of writing a chunky check for $1,000.00 or $100.00 or $10,000.00 or $10,000,000.00–whatever is chunky for you.

Some people say the tithe is 10%. I’m not in favor of a blanket rate. Some people can really, honestly only afford 5% or less. Others can afford a very large percentage. When I was growing up as an Evangelical I remember people talking about a billionaire who made loads of money making bulldozers. In his lifetime he was criticized for his luxurious lifestyle. When he died they realized he gave away 90% of his income and lived like a prince on 10%. That’s why we don’t judge or demand a set percentage, but call the faithful to give generously and to tithe a determined amount.

The second  principle for financial peace and prosperity is to spend the money on people not stuff. Buy other people presents–not yourself. Invest in charitable efforts. Invest in Catholic education. Invest in your kids and your family. Take people out to eat. Practice hospitality. People are going to last forever. Nothing else will. If you invest in people you will have plenty of friends and plenty of peace and plenty of prosperity.

So what do I mean by prosperity? Not necessarily wealth, but a prosperous and generous outlook on life. The prosperous person has plenty even if he does not have a lot. It is possible therefore to be wealthy but not prosperous just as it is possible to be poor and prosperous.

Do you want to not worry about money?  Live with prayer, live with peace and live with prosperity. If you live that way you will achieve financial freedom and you’ll sleep well at night.

  • Cathy R.

    Amen!

  • Romulus

    Well Father, I can tell you what my parish did in 1965. Located in a decayed and semi-abandoned downtown skid row neighborhood, and badly damaged by a hurricane, our historic 1840 church was very nearly closed and torn down. It was saved and revived by a visionary new pastor who convinced the new archbishop to keep it open and to permit a Sunday morning celebration of Mass in Latin. Want to guess what happened? People came. They came from their comfortable suburbs. They came from silk stocking uptown neighborhoods. They came from 40, 50, even 80 miles away, passing dozens of other Catholic churches to get to us. Some came from the street outside, where they’d slept. The people who came were loyal and committed, and guess what? They gave millions to restore the building, its roof, its wiring, its termite-damaged timbers, its hvac and sound system. They gave enough to pay for a team of highly skilled artisans to plaster and paint and gild the interior. Enough to tuckpoint the bricks and repair the foundation and renovate the rectory. Enough to pay for a massive new pipe organ in its historic antique case. Enough to hire a distinguished music director and support an ambitious program of chant, polyphony, and the occasional liturgy with full orchestra and choir.

    It was simple, really. Offer real Catholic liturgy, presented in a straightforward, traditional way, in conformity with the universal Church and the local ordinary. Exalt Catholic identity and restore the treasures of the Church to her children. Only give them the chance to be part of something grand and beautiful and ennobling — in an incarnational way, to which ordinary human beings can relate. Be bold and authentic and generous, and your people will respond accordingly.

  • Texas Padre

    As a fellow parish priest (2 parishes and a mission) who is always dealing with making payroll and meeting all the other obligations it can indeed be tough. Thanks for your splendid reflection here.

  • johnnyc

    Father I will be sending some of my weekly donation your way for the new Church and your parish will be in my prayers. God Bless!

  • Leilita Foxie Monica

    That’s a nice article, father. I am just researching for my master thesis about poverty analysis. It is very interesting for me to go beyond economical perspective in my readings. I find your insight nice. However, just to give money is not enough. Giving the wrong way could make people dependent on you and actually rob them of the experience of growth and sense of their own dignity(I’ve just read the book When help hurts). so it is also important to discern where does the given money go and whether its use fosters development or keeps the person in the same miserable condition and poor relationships with God, himself, other people and other created things.

    • bob in Va

      LFM—well stated and you should receive highest honors for your insight. Best to you in your effort.

      • Leilita Foxie Monica

        Thanks for encouragement bob.

    • wineinthewater

      We must always be prudential. However, prudence is often used as an excuse to not be generous. So many people use not wanting to enable people in the behaviors that have contributed to their poverty or not wanting to make people dependent on them as an excuse to not give. The insight you offer, while valid, is more often than not a smokescreen for lack of charity.

      Prudence should not dictate whether or not we give, it should dictate *how* we give.

      • Strife

        I think it’s quite the contrary. In our modern society with this current dominance of burgeoning socialism, people are guilt-ridden into knee-jerk donations. And this is in addition to the tremendous amount of tax dollars (at LEAST 75% of the Agricultural Budget) that already fuels the ever-expanding welfare state in the form of Food Stamps, not to mention the myriad of private charitable enterprises such as food-banks and shelters that are popping up everywhere nowadays.

        The problem here is a clear lack of personal responsibility by far too many citizens who view welfare as their economic right.

        There is moral value in the recognition that far too often “charity” IS in fact enabling and promoting bad behavior.

        And I think the social stigmata that some try to attach to anyone who even dares to acknowledge the reality of welfare abuse is its own form of censorship. We need more truthful discussion on this.

  • david

    well said

  • April

    Great article!

  • Theophilus2

    Groundbreaking & Phase 1 of our new Parish school begins soon. No worry as I have full faith in God’s Providence. My prayers with your Parish.

    All things in Christ

  • Lepanto

    Years ago the Pastor at my parish (RIP) had a worldwide reputation for raising money and gifts of pharmaceutical goods for the ‘third world’. He used to say that if you send money to the third world and fail to fast, you may as well keep your money because the west will always win in the markets for food and other necessaries. However if you fast, you effectively allow them to take a greater share of the market for food for the obvious reason that we are consuming less of what is available. It makes total sense to me and wonder why no-one else ever seems to say this to Catholics.

  • Christopher Range

    One of the paradoxes of conversion for me was realizing my life was going to become more challenging in some areas, not less. Money is definitely one of those areas. The prodigal son would have had no feast for his return if his father had not saved. Yet if the father had saved money only for himself he would have encountered the lesson of Luke 12:21. God calls us to labor and stewardship, but he also says to not be attached to the money. Fiscal responsibility is obviously a complex topic in the Bible. The catechism instructs us to act prudently and seek advice in order to educate the conscience in questionable areas. (CCC 1787-1788) – Is there a Catholic counterpart to Dave Ramsey?


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