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April 22, 1994     The Message
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10 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana ; c ! - Money: Root of evil or source of good? "I hate to talk about money!" We've all heard priests say it. We've also heard many lay people say: "All we hear about in church is money!" These days any conver- sation that couples the words "money" and "church" immedi- ately generates a broad and deeply-felt array of re- actions. What is it about money and religion that creates such intense feelings? Let's take a stroll together in the real world of the Catholic Church to explore this topic. We begin with the obvious: our church needs money. We need money to help those who are hurt- ing in body, mind and spirit; we need money to staff our parishes and schools; we need money to pay the relentless bills that appear in parish and school mailboxes each week. To do the work of Christ that is our mission, our church needs money. And where does this money come from? Con- trary to tabloid-style rumors, there is no over- heated currency printing press in the basement of the Chancery Office. There is no weekly armored truck delivery from the Vatican. The money to do Christ's work through our church comes from you and me. In gratitude for God's many blessings to us, we return a portion of those blessings to God through our gifts of time, talent and money. So if our church needs money so badly, why would a priest "hate to talk about money?" I've heard three opinions about this phenomenon, one based on guilt, a second rooted in ignorance, and a third arising from misinformation. Let's look at all three: Guilt Priests may feel uneasy asking their parish- ioners to give money because they are sensitive to the financial burden today's society places on peo- ple, or people place on themselves. It's understand- able that a priest with a comfortable life style, and few if any of the financial worries of his parish- JUSTIN C0000NTs-| Guest Columnist I ioners, would have some difficulty asking them to dig deeper into their already strained resources. But why does our church provide for priests as it does? The intent is to free him from daily temporal concerns so he can give himself more completely in the service of Christ to his peo- ple. I'm sure no lay person begrudges the Church's financial provisions for a priest who is sincerely trying to be a Christ-like man of service and com- passion. For such a priest, any feelings of guilt about asking for money for God's work are entirely misplaced. Ignorance Msgr. Michael Moorel Financial Administrator of the Archdiocese of Winnipeg, Canada, captured the essence of this second theory about priests' distaste for talking about money in a recent article entitled: "Speaking and Teaching Stewardship to Priests and Seminarians." He bluntly states: "In their preparation for the priesthood, most of our priests were not given any courses dealing with steward- ship." A life style rooted in Christian stewardship is unfamiliar territory for most Catholics, including our clerical and episcopal leaders. Many converts to Catholicism from other Christian traditions are astounded by the weak practice of stewardship in the Catholic Church. Fundraising researchers con- tinue to show, for example, that Protestants tend to give almost twice as much percentage of their incomes as Catholics to support their churches. In the introduction to their recent pastoral letter on stewardship, the U.S. Bishops hinted that they, too, are struggling with the growing stewardship conversion movement in our church as they wrote: "What we (bishops) say here is directed to our- selves as much as to you who read these words. As bishops, we recognize our obligation to be models of stewardship in all aspects of our lives." Later, in the pastoral letter itself, the bishops state: "this obligation (to practice stewardship} begins with us bishops. As Pope John Paul II says, moderation, and discipline, as well sacrifice, must become a part of all suffer the negative consequences habits of a few.'" Our church has a long way to go before Catholics are comfortable talking about a stewardship way of life.. ,., : Misinformation Author Richard Lederer, a great student( English language, provides a clue opinion regarding priests' reluctanceto money. In his book "The Play of devotes an entire section to "Famili tions." At the top of his list is: "Money is all evil." The actual quotation from 1 "The LOVE of money is the root of all places a totally different spin on this Scripture passage to our lives a' stewards. Money is not inherently good or dirty. Money is simply a tool we t transactions with one another. It's whether or not we have money, it's how we money or let our money use us. be used for evil purposes. But money is source of much good in our world. The love of money and possessions can be dously destructive force in our lives. sharing of our money with erful, liberating activity that truly makes e a better place. Yes, we do hear about money fact, we probably need to hear even do. There are children and our faith; there are people the healing touch of Jesus on minds and bodies; there are the poor chised Who raise their hands to ing a portion of your financial the work of Christ through way to use money as the potent it can be. , : :: I Support your local pro-life organizations I I AUTO TOPS. SEAT COVERS BOAT COVERS STEREO SALES & INSTALLATIONS Washington Auto Trim 27 Years Service 254-3943 HWY 50 EAST, BEHIND UPS CENTER EUGENE WELP, OWNER Box 68 Montgomery, Indiana47558 Donald J. 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HOSPITAL An(t Healtll (=;ire (=t:nter YOUTH MINISTRY COORDINATOR St. J0seph/St Margaret Mary Parishes Terre Haute, Indiana Full-time Position immediately available. Posi- tion requires planning, imiplementation and co- ordination of ministry/religious education experi- ences for 9 - 12 grade youth. Candidate needs to be responsible, organized and communicator of proven effectiveness. Certification in Youth Ministry preferred. Send letter of application with resume to: Youth Ministry Search Committee C/O Mrs. Rita Coe 116 Berkley Terre Haute, IN 47803 Monroe Member r' " Lineo 9x7