Of Latin and Sunday collections

I was alerted to an interesting point found in a parish bulletin.

Old Saint Mary’s in Cincinnati provides information about the weekly totals for the collections at Masses.  The totals for 26 May were interesting.  HERE

Given that the 11 o’clock is in German, the 9:15 is the more likely candidate to be the principle Mass than is the 12:30.  Still, there is quite a contrast in the collections at those Sunday Masses…. aren’t there Fathers?

And compare the attendance numbers.  The attendance is not exactly high for any of these Masses, but the per capita giving is markedly higher for one mass than for the others.

“But Father! But Father!”, some one is sure to interject. “That’s just one parish.  People will send you bulletins that show that the lowest collection of the day was for the ‘Latin Mass’.  So there!  You hate Vatican II!”

Maybe they will and maybe they won’t.

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52 Responses to Of Latin and Sunday collections

  1. abloomfield says:

    Since it is perhaps not clear, I just want to add that this is an ordinary form Latin Mass.

  2. disco says:

    My parish just posts the overall total and not the breakdown by mass. I’ve always wondered whether the Latin mass folks give more or not. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that we were not as generous per capita only because there are so many young children at the Latin mass, but I don’t know.

    I can say that I personally am much more generous attending the traditional latin mass than I was when I attended novus ordo masses in the past

  3. Charles E Flynn says:

    On average, the people at the Latin mass are giving twenties.

    What is the highest denomination bill you have ever seen in a collection plate? I saw a $100 bill going into the collection plate at the cathedral in Chicago.

  4. The data from this one parish suggest that more people attend the English masses than attend the Latin mass. The former contribute less than the latter do.

    It would be a mistake to deduce, based solely upon that comparison, however, that it would make great fiscal sense for a parish to hold a Latin mass each week.

    There are a number of confounding factors that could be at work here.

    One factor, for example, could be that surrounding parishes don’t offer a Latin mass or one at a convenient time. As a result, those who attend the Latin mass at this parish are grateful: a) for being able to attend at Latin mass at a convenient time and b) demonstrate their gratitude by contributing extra than they would ordinarily to the collect. To the degree that this factor explains the difference, there really isn’t a difference.

    What bothers me is the pretty common practice on the part of pastors—based solely on anecdotal evidence—to offer a Latin mass at a very inconvenient time. It’s almost as if these pastors—who are generally reticent to the Latin mass anyway—want to communicate the message “Okay, if you want it, I’ll provide it. But, you’ll have to be inconvenienced for it.” To which may be added: “Oh, and by the way, find a priest who’s willing to offer the Latin mass.”

  5. I know of at least on example of a parish with multiple Masses in several languages, where the TLM is said to have the largest per-capita giving. (All other factors being equal, wouldn’t one expect those who get more to give more?) Of course, those other (seldom equal) factors include the fact that TLM families typically have more children to support.

  6. acricketchirps says:

    At our parish we’re not allowed to see the breakdown between the English and Latin collection plates–just the total. I can see their point.

  7. APX says:

    What is the highest denomination bill you have ever seen in a collection plate? I saw a $100 bill going into the collection plate at the cathedral in Chicago.

    I’m not in the habit of watching what’s being put (or not put) in the collection basket. I’m appalled by the fact that my parish actually has cards for people who give via automatic bank transfer to put in the basket indicating so.

    This is why I like envelopes. No one has to see how much you’re giving.

  8. I believe we need to foster a culture and habit of giving.
    It seems to me that many Catholics think everything has to be “for free” ad if the bills that have to be paid are someone else’s problem.
    How do priests talk about money without seeming to talk about money “all the time”?

    I noticed, btw, in the bulletin I linked a note about electronic giving.

  9. Father:

    Thanks for plugging the good folks at Old Saint Mary’s. If you ever visit Cincinnati, I will be glad to take you down there, I think you’ll be very happy.

    I’m impressed they count collections that way. Maybe that is more common than I know; in my experience, the collection is usually counted for the weekend, with all the various Masses thrown in. After all, with any given weekend, it’s necessary to break out donations for, say, the building fund, St. Vincent de Paul, votive candles, etc. So proposing the counters also track how much comes from each Mass could be met by significant protests from your volunteers. But this is exactly the sort of data I’ve always wanted.

  10. APX says:

    At the same time people need to recognize that not everyone is financially in a position to be giving money all the time because they have to make sure they they can pay their own bills and expenses. It seems like they’re always wanting money for something and expect you to give give give. Right now I have more time than I have income (I have none). If the parish would like to pay me for my time, I would be more than happy to give them a share.

  11. disco says:

    The other nice thing about this breakdown is that you get the weekly budget along with the total attendance, so you can figure out the per capita cost of running the church is about $15 per week. If I was a parishioner there I would try and give $30. That’s enough for me and one person who’s short that week for whatever reason.

  12. Phil_NL says:

    Compared to what we would see here in Europe per capita the revenue from collections are off the charts. $20 per person? In an affluent parish over here it’s more like to be 3-5 euros (say, 4-6 dollars). In a poor one, maybe half that, sometimes even less. Even the lowest number in this chart exceeds the high estimate. And this would be for any kind of Mass, frankly; there may be some of the differences between different types of Mass, but nowhere near 100%.

    On the other hand, for tax reasons much of the donations here are done on an annual basis. But even taking that into account, an average of $1000 (say 50 x 20) would be huge. Immense. Don’t forget, we’re talking men, women and children here, so the donation per household would be at least twice as high, if not more depending on demographics.

    Or, perhaps we should double-check that attendance number A typo is easily made. 5 masses for a parish with a weekly attendance of under 400 sounds a bit odd as well.

  13. Phil_NL says:

    APX said ” I’m appalled by the fact that my parish actually has cards for people who give via automatic bank transfer to put in the basket indicating so.”

    Why would that be? It’s that they raised the threshold for tax deductability to quite a high level here, but if you want to deduct anything, you need a paper trail. In fact, I’m convinced that, would gift be deductable without a hge threshold, the system you describe would vastly improve revenue for the parish. Many people would be quite happy to donate the saved taxes as well.

    On the other hand, enveloppes sound like a lot of work to me (and costly, as they aren’t free either). Perhaps another European-American difference.

  14. Will D. says:

    I don’t much like envelopes because I’m not crazy about tagging one’s own donations, but APX does raise a good point in that it makes it more difficult to be nosy about who gives what when the basket goes by.
    My parish does not break down the offerings at all. It just shows the weekly take for the three Masses and the budgeted amount; and then the YTD donations, actual and budgeted. I know the ushers count attendance, so I assume the finance committee has access to breakdowns. I’m not convinced that publishing them would be a good idea. “Look how much we gave compared to the people at that other Mass!”

  15. Will:

    I don’t know about other parishes, but in my experience, the finance committee did not have access to individual contribution history. The finance committee had totals for weekly, monthly and yearly giving, and for by project (i.e., St. Vincent, building and maintenance, etc.)

    Who would know a person’s giving history?

    The data is entered into the computer by a staff person; in my experience, I made it extremely clear that this information was private, and was never to be discussed with anyone, not even other employees. The pastor (I) had access to this data, of course.

    The money counters, who would see the envelopes and checks, would have a pretty good idea of who donated what. And while I asked them not to discuss it, I suspect they would talk in general terms about “Joe Dokes is a big giver.”

    Electronic giving does, indeed, address this, because the counters wouldn’t see this information.

    Cash in parish envelopes work, too, because many times, the envelope only has a number, no name.

  16. APX says:

    Phil,

    All those cards say is, “I gave through automatic bank transfer”. They don’t track anything. They just make it look like the person gave something rather than not, as of to keep the nosy folks at bay about who is and isn’t giving.

    Someone in our Latin Mass community said that when te recession first hit one of the priests mentioned that the laity now had less money than them.

  17. SophieMiriam says:

    “I’m appalled by the fact that my parish actually has cards for people who give via automatic bank transfer to put in the basket indicating so.”

    My parish does this, but we use the envelopes to track Mass attendance for those who will be receiving the Sacraments, so putting in your envelope even if you gave electronically (or don’t have any extra money that week) serves a purpose.

  18. Jack Hughes says:

    At my parish the figures are conclusive, the LMS crowd gave £4.33 on average ( total given divided by the number of attendees) whilst the NO crowd gave £1.72 on average.

  19. Gail F says:

    Phil NL: No, they really do have that many Masses. However, as you might be able to deduce they offer mostly special Masses that attract people from different areas. The building is the region’s oldest church of any kind and is really lovely. It is in what was for many years a really poor neighborhood, one that is now being gentrified. Though the city once had many German-speaking neighborhoods, this is the only one in city limits that still has a German Mass, and people come from other places for it. It offers a Novus Ordo Latin Mass (the one being discussed here) to which people also come from many different areas. There are only a handful of churches that offer the N.O. Mass in Latin, so people travel to them. Same with the English Mass, actually — this parish is known for its Masses being especially reverent and so draws people and families from all over. It also offers weekly and special TLM Masses and other special liturgies (Liturgies of the Hours, Benediction, etc) often. The neighborhood itself is very eclectic and it has a small but energetic mixed-income parish. It is also where the new Oratory of St. Philip Neri will be located.
    Donations in European parishes are really that low???

  20. Animadversor says:

    How often ought a pastor to discuss money? As often as the circumstances require, and he should do so in a straightforward and frank manner. He certainly ought not in any way to apologize for doing it; perhaps he will need to apologize for not bringing up the subject more often. If, brethren, it tries your patience to hear it, you know how to fix that.

    Now I shall be straightforward and frank, and even blunt: while the donations per capita in the United States may dwarf those in Europe, ours are dwarfed by those at very, very many, maybe even most, Protestant churches. It makes one think: why is that so? What does it say about us? What does my gift say about me? What does it say about how important the Church is to me? What, even, does it say about the nature of my love of God? I just don’t believe that there is no or even a minor relationship between one’s financial contribution and one’s Christian committment. Ubi enim est thesaurus tuus ibi est et cor tuum. How much more plain could He have been? Reverend Fathers, are you as plain as Our Lord? Many Protestants are encouraged to set aside the Church’s portion first in their budgets, and then to figure out the rest, and it sometimes entails sacrifice. Indeed, many of these families feel that if it doesn’t require a sacrifice, then they have figured it wrong. I’ve no doubt that there are Catholics who do likewise, but the figures suggest that most of us do not, but rather that we take care first of what we believe to be our needs and of our pleasures, and then we part with a bit of our treasure. Am I wholly wrong?

    Perhaps similar parallels can be drawn with regard to our manner of dress at Mass, especially on Sundays, but I’d not want to go off-topic

    I shall now put on my armor.

  21. Bea says:

    That’s one way to get more TLM Masses, as one priest I heard aptly put it: “The name of the game is bucks”

  22. frjim4321 says:

    We have a family of homeschoolers that go to the unreformed mass (*) about a half hour away in the next diocese over.

    Week of May 26, 2013
    4:30pm………. $2,705
    9:00am………. $4,654
    11:00am ……. $3,016
    1:00pm ……… $913 (*)

    They also push electronic giving.

    Frankly I was surprised to see this (I would not have even looked were it not for this post). My theory has been that this option is being permitted because of financial benefit to the parish, but it is certainly not the case at this place.

    I would love to have their collections!

  23. APX says:

    Animadversor says:
    ours are dwarfed by those at very, very many, maybe even most, Protestant churches. It makes one think: why is that so? What does it say about us? What does my gift say about me? What does it say about how important the Church is to me? What, even, does it say about the nature of my love of God? I just don’t believe that there is no or even a minor relationship between one’s financial contribution and one’s Christian committment.

    If I were a Mormon, despite their practice of tithing, I would not be required to tithe according to their rule of tithing. Why? Because they tithe 10% of their income, and because I don’t receive an income (student loans don’t count as income), I can’t tithe what I don’t have. If you ask an Elder (I did when I was talking to Missionaries about converting) that is what they will tell you.

    I don’t think you can accurately assess one’s Christian Commitment to how much they give financially. People have legitimate financial expenses that need to be paid for that may hamper what they can give, yet if they didn’t have those expenses would gladly give their money. For example, I have no extended health insurance for things such as dental and prescriptions, physio, etc, yet my monthly medical expenses for Chiro, physio, massage alone are around $1000/month just to keep my litany of injuries at bay. I have to pay for that myself. Because I am a student, I don’t qualify for any government assistance as those who either have no income or low income do. Yeah, I’m not really in a position to be giving the church large sums of money every time it asks for it. There are others like me.

  24. Phil_NL says:

    APX:

    About those cards: they cards themselves don’t track anything per se (though I’ve seen variant where the amount was printed on, you simply ‘bought’ a booklet of these from the parish treasurer), but the bank transfer is a paper trail. I’not up to speed on the US tax code, but over here, a cash donation will never be deductable, while a bank transfer may be. In a previous parish, a system was operated whereby people didn’t donate cash weekly, but donated the equivalent amount (and ideally, the tax savings as well, which ar substantial at a 52% tax rate…) by transfer. Now nbot putting anything at all in the collection basket simply sets a bad example for others – you might even say, causes scandal, so that’s why they brought in the cards. The parish got more money out of it, so I still can’t quite see the problem, unless people are using cards without donating electronically. But that would be quite silly, as people can simply drop in a few cents in the basket as well – in most cases, no-one would know….

  25. babochka69 says:

    Plain numbers don’t tell the whole story, either. The demographics of each Mass or parish come into play. Our very small parish has an average attendance of about 50 (and a weekly collection between $300 and $500). Another parish has an average attendance of about 70, and their weekly collection is about $600. On the surface, it would seem that we are doing about the same, with the 2nd parish perhaps being slightly better contributors. In reality, our number of 50 represents 12 families and the median age of the adults is about 35, while their 70 is 25 families, with the median age of the adults about 60.

  26. Mary Jane says:

    My husband and I don’t give to the collection basket every week – instead of putting in smaller amounts each week we usually write a larger check once every two months or so. I do sometimes wonder if the ushers (or others passing the basket) are passing judgement on us because we only give once every 8 Sundays or so.

    A funny tidbit (complaint?) – my husband and I are up in the choir loft every Sunday and the ushers come up with the collection basket at the worst_possible_moment: usually right during the Offertory chants or during the Offertory motet. I wonder if they get upset when not many folks put $ in the basket? But, really, it is difficult to continue singing *and* get $ into the collection basket at the same time. I think they might get more from the choir if we were able to put our donations in at a more convenient moment during mass…I think there are probably several choir members who have had to chase an usher down after mass in order to get their collection in.

  27. NoraLee9 says:

    In NYC, Latin Masses have greatly outstripped the NO. St. Ann’s before it was sold and torn down to pay for the sodomite suits, was completely rebuilt, using money collected from Saturday and Holy Day attendance.
    Holy Innocents very intelligently provided a daily Latin Mass and now their Brumidi and other repairs have been completed. The cash cow that is the Latin Mass at St. Agnes has been a thorn to three successive pastors. They can’t afford to dump it, even though they would want to….

  28. Raul says:

    Well, I’m not sure it just because I go to a Latin Mass, but I have increase my donation 5x more then when I attended a NO Mass.

  29. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    Our EF Mass at Holy Rosary parish in Indianapolis was similar to this bulletin, with the EF Mass consistently out-tithing the other Masses. Although a few months ago the new pastor ceased listing attendance/tithing by individual Mass time and just clumped all the numbers together for all the Mass times. So the comparison is now impossible.

    It should be noted though, that, as mentioned above, in general the EF attendance consists of younger, larger families and often single income families. Lots of homeschooling moms. So if we have 150 in attendance at an EF Mass, probably over a third are children.

    So the tithing per income-earning adult is quite high.

  30. ndmom says:

    We are registered at the local parish for technical reasons, even though we attend Mass at the Basilica on campus. Most people don’t seem to be aware that you can make your parish contributions via online banking, just like other bills. No need to complete forms for electronic withdrawals or automatic credit card transactions. Just sign up for online banking, establish your parish as a payee (complete with “envelope number” or whatever the parish uses to keep track of contributions for tax purposes), and you can authorize weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annual payments. You can change the amounts or timing of these payments at any time — right on the bank’s website — without having to go through the parish office or their forms. The parish will get a regular paper check sent by the bank, so you don’t even need a stamp. At year-end, you just push a button to see your total contributions (though you will still need the official letter from the parish to substantiate your contributions in the unlikely event of audit).

    This approach eliminates the hassle and expense of envelopes, and ensures that your parish will get your contributions even when you are out of town or otherwise unable to attend. I don’t know why more people don’t adopt it.

  31. Elizabeth D says:

    I normally attend 2 Sunday Masses, TLM and Novus Ordo, and I normally give at the TLM. It is not my impression that the TLM is especially lucrative for my parish. It is the smallest in attendance numbers, and I do not see large amounts of bills or envelopes in the basket.

    I believe people should try to give 10% to the parish if they can (and ALSO give generously to charity), and I believe most people can if they love God and His Church. I tell this to anyone who will listen. And if they can’t, but they are not living very frugally, then really indeed it would seem that maybe they CAN but they are spending what in justice should be used for the spread of the Gospel and the needs of the spiritually and materially poor, on themselves.

  32. PA mom says:

    Phil-NL-that’s pretty common donation at the OF form, too, to my knowledge.

    Our pastor discusses finances once a year, including a receipts and expenses sheet in the bulletin, then discussing the highlights during the homily. He showers us with very genuinely conveyed praise for our generosity (which had the real effect of shaming me into upping it when we started), and discusses if there are major changes to th expenses expected for the coming year. He is clear, straightforward, and appreciative, and it is hard to imagine it being done better than he does.

  33. Tom Ryan says:

    I’ve been there a number of times. It’s a beautiful church in a rough area.

    The mass everyone is talking about is a Latin Novus Ordo Mass. I was there around the time of Summorum Pontificum for their first TLM in decades. I’m am not aware that they have had others since.

  34. frjim4321 says:

    I believe we need to foster a culture and habit of giving.
    It seems to me that many Catholics think everything has to be “for free” ad if the bills that have to be paid are someone else’s problem.
    How do priests talk about money without seeming to talk about money “all the time”?

    Very true!

    If it were not for about 50 families that are extraordinarily generous we would be in very bad shape. I have not done an analysis, but I would guess that 75% of our income comes from 25% of the families.

    Very little awareness of what it takes to run a church, and where the money comes from. And don’t even get me started on how much we pay heating the parking lot in the winter and cooling the parking lot in the summer. (Get it? All the low-I.Q.’s who prop the doors open when the heat or the A/C is running.)

    Other than pastors who cares about the “three ‘L’s?” Lights out, Litter picker up, Lock the doors.

  35. Dave N. says:

    The collection at our TLM is usually quite near the amounts of the other Masses, although we probably have only about one-third or one-fourth of the number of people by comparison. I agree with Motley Monk that the TLM parishioners don’t want ANY criticisms that the Latin Mass is “not worthwhile” for the parish in financial terms–and conversely, if it were NOT there, the results would actually be detrimental because those people would attend elsewhere. At a bare minimum, people who aren’t exactly thrilled with the Latin Mass at our parish can see the financial benefit. I think that’s important.

    Although I’m sure demographics also has something to do with it as well since those attending the TLM are overwhelimingly retirees and no longer incur the expenses of raising a family and educating children.

  36. Granny says:

    Our parish uses envelopes and that has been difficult for me. I know this will sound goofy coming from an adult my age but I’ll tell you anyway. I grew to DREAD the envelopes. Sister had a chart in the room and every week she would put a star up on that blasted chart to show who gave. I never had anything to give, it was me and my mom, and there were weeks when we barely had groceries… if there were food stamps back then, we didn’t get them. So… every week I could find a coin or two even pennies I’d put my envelope in but my stars were few and far between. The other kids always had stars…. and were pretty smug about it. Since I was always a new girl, changing cities and schools about 17 times in my academic career, this was something that set me FURTHER apart. To this day, the idea of using an envelope for something like that makes me squirm and I think it plays a huge part in my extreme reluctance to share informaton about finances even with institutions that need it for the right reasons…
    To tie this to Fr. Z’s chart I will say that our parish has about 125 ish members and the collections always come in well above $2000

  37. acardnal says:

    APX wrote, ” I’m appalled by the fact that my parish actually has cards for people who give via automatic bank transfer to put in the basket indicating so.”

    The reason for the “cards” is to account for people being present at Mass. When one gives electronically, you don’t have to be present for Mass but on the golf course. Pastors need data on Mass attendance for the bishop and other reasons.

  38. acardnal says:

    APX wrote, “Right now I have more time than I have income (I have none). If the parish would like to pay me for my time, I would be more than happy to give them a share.”

    Wow! Bad day at school?

    The Church asks for the time, treasure and talent of its members. This is a Precept of the Church. In charity, we can give at least one of those to our parish. If you have no money, then offer your time or talent – without fiscal remuneration – to your parish as an act of charity out of love for God and neighbor.

  39. Ygnacia says:

    It was interesting that when our Latin Mass started at our first parish, all of a sudden the bulliten changed. They used to put what amount each Mass collected separately – they changed that once we started, by lumping all of the money together from all of the Masses in one sum for the bulliten. Interesting timing.

  40. Random Friar says:

    For a parish of medium or larger size, the Rule of Thumb (which may be modified by Electronic Funds Transfers) is:

    1/3 of the people give zero.
    1/3 of the people give $1.
    1/3 of the people give more.

    What’s interesting is that this rule has held for a while, even though the dollar is not as strong as it was 40,30 years ago.

    YMMV, according to local circumstances.

  41. Vecchio di Londra says:

    My own experience in London is that in Latin Mass Society and FSSP Masses the plate is strikingly full of £10 and £20 notes though the congregation is neither large nor well-off. It’s a sense of gratitude, I think. Giving at Parish Masses tends to be comparatively lukewarm, particularly in these days of retrenchment. But as church buildings have high overheads, and these are exponentially increasing (soaring energy, repair and anti-terrorism insurance costs) we are all going to have to give more through gift-aided (tax-efficient) schemes. I’m surprised this is not addressed more often from the pulpit. The Archdiocese of Westminster did start an initiative some years ago where on one given Sunday in every church the priest would sit back and instead of a personal sermon a loudspeaker played a recorded announcement by the Archbishop about ‘planned giving’. It was well-meaning but rather alienating idea. It simply reminded parishioners that a large chunk of their money was going to the archdiocese and its many administrators.

  42. Imrahil says:

    There is some confusion, and I guess this is where the mentioned Evangelicals get their much money from (and also perhaps one of the reasons why Americans donate more than Europeans*) about this thing with giving the whole of one’s life, possessions etc. to God.

    Of course, this is what the Christian has to do.

    On the other hand, when this is all said and done and if no outright necessity arises, the Christian has the feeling that God does not generally wish His children to want… and that it is his right to use his lawfully acquired means for his necessities of the primary and more remote sort and even for the things which traditionally might have been called abundance, yet a rather moralistic modernity has termed with the name of a former vice, luxury.

    In this feeling, how much sinful avarice might intrude there, he is principally right, as is proven by the fact that St. Paul, who after all could claim apostolic authority for his project and really did think it was a necessary and good one and avertised for it most expressly, in what is FWIW the only instance donations of the kind we know them are treated in the Bible, explicitly wanted the donation to be voluntary in the strict sense (which includes a morally legitimate choice not to). Cf. 2 Cor 8,9.

    And hence, the difficulty arises.

    For as far as the actual giving, the thing that will be understood by the World as giving, is concerned, the Christian, perhaps excepting the monk, gives something but not everything. He feels (with the exception of monks and paupers) that he could give still more than he does give, but he also feels (in some cases wrongly) that he does not have to. The Evangelical, on the other hand, who does not know of such things as a non-obliging good work and following Luther thinks the very best work of a mortal man a venial sin, feels that he is actually sinning by not giving more than he does give. Of course this theology involves a perplexity (which we strictly abhor), but all Protestant moral theology is perplex and thinks itself all the more humble for it. And this is, perhaps, why the Evangelicals get more money, because fear and threat brings more than humble asking.

    On the other hand, Cathedral Provost Bl. Bernhard Lichtenberg (I guess it was him) once wrote letters asking for money. He got a reply along the tones of “oh when can you clerics finally cease all this begging and nerving and leave me alone”, enclosing a substantial amount of money. Now what he did was write “God loveth a joyful giver” on the letter and send it back, including the money. That’s the spirit.

    Now what to do? How often (dear @Animadversor) should a pastor address the money?

    As far as actual sin against the fifth Church precept is concerned, much enough to erase the said sin.

    As far as voluntary giving is concerned, much enough to remind of it as a part of general catechetics, and certainly to inform about each specific project that needs funding, but little enough as not to create any emotional pressure.

    Now a congregation contains those who do reach the sinful and those who don’t altogether (as is probably likely)? Well… that’s the diffucult part of the thing.

    Probably it makes sense to make moral theologians and even particular legislators think about a certain amount of spending which is a hard number with a % after it. I simplify. Probably it should better have logarithms and/or fractions. Basis for computation should not be all income, but all taxable income (in countries where there is an income tax), or (as it probably is sufficiently just to allow for merely a simple percentage) the income tax itself, as is the case in Germany (8% of the income tax otherwise existing, which can then be declared as tax-deductible).

    [*Another is that in Europe historically, the Church owned some rather profitable capital, read: land, to make for her expenses. Now it has in the German-speaking countries and, with a substantially less proportion, Italy, a Church tax.]

  43. claiborneinmemphis says:

    Very little awareness of what it takes to run a church, and where the money comes from. And don’t even get me started on how much we pay heating the parking lot in the winter and cooling the parking lot in the summer. (Get it? All the low-I.Q.’s who prop the doors open when the heat or the A/C is running.)

    Other than pastors who cares about the “three ‘L’s?” Lights out, Litter picker up, Lock the doors.

    Fr Jim,

    As a husband and father (and payer of astronomically high utility bills), I feel your pain. Other than fathers (and Fathers), I can’t tell that anyone cares whether the doors are left open or the lights left on.

  44. May I suggest that comparisons between Catholic parishes and Evangelical congregations are more invalid than valid. Here’s why:

    Catholic parishes are mostly territorial; Evangelical congregations are mostly intentional or affinity-based.

    When someone compares a Catholic parish to an Evangelical congregation, usually the latter is a larger, personality- or program-driven regional hub, to which people will drive from all around. People get there by invitation, or by attending high-profile programs. As a result, a much larger share of the people attending, on any given week, are highly motivated.

    Also, it would be remarkable if any of these congregations taught, routinely, that their members face a grave obligation to attend their services, or an equivalent, every Sunday. That’s just not how they tend to see things.

    Meanwhile, Catholic parishes are organized very differently. While more Catholics are criss-crossing town to attend a parish to which they have affinity, I think that is still not the majority. The majority of folks who show up in a given parish are from that area. They are motivated, but in a different way. For a lot of such folks, probably most, their focus is not the parish (although that’s important), it’s the Mass. It’s not that they don’t care about the parish, but they can–and will–move onto another parish, either temporarily or permanently, as need may dictate.

    For these comparisons to be valid, one would have to imagine a mega-parish which draws highly motivated people from across the area, driven by personality and programs, etc., very much in the manner of the higher-profile Evangelical churches.

    Oh, but you have to add something else. You have to change how people become Catholic. Instead of a fairly lengthy process of learning and sacramental probation, as it were, imagine just showing up; and perhaps filling out a card, and maybe an altar call or baptism, but these are not required.

    The bigger Evangelical congregations tend to rely, in their dynamism, on a steady influx of new people, full of excitement. A more interesting question is, how many of them stay?

    In short, while I’m all for learning from our fellow Christians whatever we can, it’s important to avoid invalid comparisons.

  45. Andreas says:

    Here in Austria, we are obliged to pay an annual ‘Kirchensteuer'; that is, a tax (or gift, depending on your perspective) based on earnings that provides the foundation for most of the Diocesan activities and operations throughout the year. These funds provide great service to the needy as well as to The Church itself. Therefore, whilst the collection is taken every Sunday, most attending Mass will throw some pocket change (a Euro or two) into the felt collection ‘sack’ that is passed about during the Gabenbereitung….that is, except on “Silberner Sonntag” when the entire collection goes not to the Diocese but to the local parish Church itself. Silberner Sonntag was (I believe) originally the name given to the 3rd Sunday in Advent, but is now used to let us know that our gifts will be going toward the needs of our village Church of St. Ulrich. It is on the Silberner Sonntags throughout the year that the collection sack tends to be returned to the sacristy in a generously filled state.

  46. ndmom says:

    “The reason for the “cards” is to account for people being present at Mass. When one gives electronically, you don’t have to be present for Mass but on the golf course. Pastors need data on Mass attendance for the bishop and other reasons.”

    Seriously? I would decline to participate in that sort of attendance-taking exercise. Pastors can ask the ushers to count heads, or take a look at the parking lot, or count the number of hosts consumed to get a ballpark idea of Mass attendance. Most pastors probably have a very accurate sense of the level of Mass attendance without resorting to elementary school tactics.

    Our territorial parish — which we support financially but do not attend — publishes an extensive financial report each year. At least a third of registered parishioners are contributing either zero or an extremely nominal amount. The top 10-15% is carrying most of the load.

  47. francisp says:

    I happened to see this story from Ave Maria shortly after reading this post:

    FOCUS Swells Sunday Morning Crowds in Ave Maria

    The story relates that the 10:30am (English) NO Mass was overflowing, but the 12:30pm EF Mass had only a few people in attendance when FOCUS missionaries were in Ave for their missionary training.

  48. VexillaRegis says:

    ndmom: As I have understood it, the parish doesn’t count the *number of attendants* with the envelopes, but they check WHO was there. (The envelopes are tagged with a number or so.) If you, for instance, are asked to be a godmother at a baptism, you might be supposed to present a letter from your parish stating that you are a Catholic in good standing, ie, that they can verify that you are a regular Massgoer.

    Please disregard from this comment if I misunderstood you! (Foreigner)

  49. acardnal says:

    Below is quoted from a parish bulletin:

    QUOTE
    What does it mean to be an active Catholic?
    Frequently, those seeking to celebrate
    Marriage, have children baptized, or
    serve as sponsors for Confirmation or
    Baptism request a letter stating that
    they are parishioners and active,
    practicing Catholics. To receive such
    a letter, one must be registered in the
    parish for at least 3 months, attend
    Mass regularly, and be committed to a
    stewardship of time, talent, and
    treasure. We encourage all
    parishioners to become active in one of the parish
    organizations. In a community as large as Our Lady
    of Hope, one means of verifying participation is
    through the use of parish offertory envelopes.
    If
    you choose not to participate in the support of the
    parish, or are unable to contribute at this time,
    please at least note your prayerful support on your
    envelope and place it in the weekly offertory. We
    will then be aware of your continued participation,
    and you will not be noted as “inactive” on our parish
    roster. UNQUOTE

  50. kat says:

    One more comparison of Protestant vs. Catholic parishes…often, or at least possibly, the Catholics faithful to the teachings of the Church on marriage and birth control, could sometimes have larger families and less disposable income.

    I know that the above is not an indisputable fact, but…it can have an impact.

  51. Former Altar Boy says:

    I haven’t read all the other entries, so maybe someone else already noticed that the other three Masses combined did not exceed the OF Latin Mass. On my last trip to O‘ahu I went to Mass at the only church that offered the TLM. The Sunday bulletin also showed that the TLM Mass exceeded the total offerings of the three OF Masses. When I mentioned that observation to my TLM pastor, he said that is almost always the case. Maybe TLM Mass-goers are just more “cheerful givers.”

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