The Collection Basket

Just this morning a co-worker of mine brought up a letter that had been sitting on his desk for three weeks. It turns out I received the same but I responded immediately (as I do often) and he decided to think it over a bit first.

The letter was from the new Pastor of our Church (just so happens we attend the same Church). I’m sure the task of sending this letter was planned before his arrival to our parish. Call it bad timing that while new to our Church he needed to sign an annual letter about the “Increased Offertory Program”.

The jist of the letter is a suggestion that maybe “you” which is me, could consider increasing the offering in the collection basket. I must say form letters in general bother me. The sender is bound to upset or offend someone because you can’t generalize when it comes to most groups.

Of course there is a bit of a disclaimer in the beginning of the letter that says “if our records are acurate”. Not a big fan of relying on your records when we’re talking about people. Our current fiscal environment makes sending this letter necessary but I wish the sender (my church) would have considered how the receiving of such a letter, in these hard economic times, would be received.

The letter suggests that we prayerfully consider giving between $250 – $1000 as an annual offertory commitment. My annual contribution hovers near 75% of the top number. My children have also attended the parishes Catholic Grammar School for the past 12 years with at least 6 more years to go. (Do the math I have five children).

My family also attends Mass every Sunday, every Holy Day and as many daily Masses as we can. So my question is “Did I really need to receive this letter”? I must also add that I am a very active member of several Ministries in our Parish. Don’t misread this as thinking I’m anything special. I am always concious of my inability to give financially and try to make up for it with the giving of my time. Sometimes I think time is more valuable to some Ministries than money. Maybe I was just sensitive the day I received it but now three weeks later my co-worker made me think about it again.

I did respond with a letter to the Pastor about how I felt insulted by the letter and have not yet received a response. I don’t think I’ll get one and that’s ok.

I love my Church and the people I see so often throughout the Parish and I wouldn’t let this letter have any effect on how I feel about the Catholic Church. I don’t subscribe to the comments that “all the Church cares about is money”. I know that’s not true. There’s no hiding that the Church has bills to pay just like I do. Not every function of the Church can be done with charity or volunteerism. That’s just the facts.

Maybe I just wasn’t feeling the love so to speak when I got that letter. The story of the poor widow in the Bible comes to mind, Matthew 12:42-44 which says;

A poor widow came and put in two small coins, the equivalent of a penny.

Then he called his disciples and said to them, ‘In truth I tell you, this poor widow has put more in than all who have contributed to the treasury;

for they have all put in money they could spare, but she in her poverty has put in everything she possessed, all she had to live on.’

I’m feeling a bit like the poor widow. We are giving as much as we can and I know that I will continue to give long after the current drain on our income (tuition) comes to an end. I’m praying I live that long. I’ve been told “it’s just not my season” and I find comfort in that. Times are hard and money isn’t as available as we’d like but I wouldn’t change the blessings that I have that have nothing to do with money for any amount of cash.

Have you ever received a letter from your Church or group that made you feel like you weren’t supposed to receive this letter. Did you say “there must be some mistake”? I’d love to hear you stories.