Monday, April 18, 2005

Almsgiving

Prior to my conversion to Catholicism I had been
giving to Protestant organizations.

Catholic organizations don't seem to promote
themselves as well, for whatever reason.

However, I stumbled upon what seems like a good
operation here:

Missionhurst

Then, via a blog called Sancta Sanctis I found these outfits:

Catholic Near East Welfare Association

Aid to the Church in Need




I'm paraphrasing from memory, but a monk went to one
of the Desert Fathers (Poemen?) with a question. He
had received a large inheritance--what should he do
with the money?

The Desert Father asked for three days to pray about
the matter. When the monk returned the Desert Father
said: "If I tell you to give it to the Church, the
Church will spend it on banquets
; if I tell you to
give it to your relatives, you will get no spiritual
benefit from it; if I tell you to give it to the poor,
you will not do as I say. Therefore, do whatever you
want with it, it is no concern of mine."

Harsh words for the monk in question, but I was even
more struck by the words about the Church. Remember
that the Desert Fathers fled to the desert when the
Church was being made the official religion of Rome.
Corruption, evidently, was rampant.

It would be nice to give to one's parish church, but
my parish is engaged in a massive "build a church"
campaign (it is a new parish) with a $10 million goal
to construct what no doubt will be a modernist
monstrosity.

Thus, an organization like CNEWA, through which one
can pay for the education of a priest in the third
world, for example, seems so much ... better.

8 Comments:

Blogger atgnatus said...

A certain youth, who was preparing to follow the monastic life, went to consult Abba Photios regarding how to behave in the brotherhood. The wise elder, besides other things, also told him these profitable things: “Avoid as much as possible, my child, creating for yourself a reputation as an agitator. Never say: ‘I am not eating at the common table of the brothers at the meal after Liturgy on Sunday,’ or ‘I am not going to the gatherings (monastery councils).’ Try not to separate yourself from the others in anything, and see that you imitate the most pious brothers. In this way, you will avoid any human praise and you will attain humility.”

Do not separate yourself from your parish. If it is their goal, then it is yours. Pray for them and joyfully give. You may not like the design of the building but you can relish how they strive to serve the Church - even if you do not think that they are serving in the best way possible.

Then, give to the other charities.

However, your priest was an obedient monk for 25 years before becoming a priest. It seems prideful to second-guess him. Have you discussed it with him? Perhaps he was ordered by his superiors to build the new church. Should he disobey?

10:18 PM  
Blogger xofezura said...

In the quote that I gave, the desert father recommended giving the money to the poor, not the Church.

Why would that be?

6:39 AM  
Blogger atgnatus said...

Perhaps your supposition was correct - 1600 years ago Rome was corrupt.

Do you think the Vatican is corrupt now? I don't.

You are a member of the Roman Catholic Church which is hierarchical. They have said to build the building. Because you are a Roman Catholic, you should obey. Because you trying to learn from the Desert Fathers, you should obey your religious elder - your priest - as a test of humility. Because you are following the Desert Fathers to draw nearer to Christ, you should try your best to commune with the church militant.

That said, the building doesn't seem like the most important thing in the world. Perhaps a small token of your fellowship would suffice so that your fellow parishioners would not be discouraged.

Then more meaningful donations can be made to more meaningful causes.

IMO, of course.

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