It is here again where the example of Evangelicals is helpful. Most of them have this vital sense of ownership. As individual church members their church laity sees itself as the "priesthood of all believers." There is not that huge psychological gap between priest and people that exists in some of our parishes.
A third quality from which we can learn concerns the link between ownership and money. While many Catholics are generous contributors to the Church, many comfortable parishioners are equally comfortable putting in a dollar or two in the basket on Sunday and perhaps five or 10 at Christmas and Easter. We take the survival of the Church as a given, and important financial decisions seems to be made behind the closed doors of a distant chancery office.
The call to tithe is a distant echo to most Catholics. While some Catholics annually give a tenth of their earnings, their numbers are few. In today's tax happy world, where over 50 cents of every dollar earned goes to one tax or another, few can entertain such a notion. Still, many evangelicals do tithe.
Last year the one thousand members of a downtown Boston evangelical Church collected $4.5 million. That works out to be an average yearly contribution of $4,500 per parishioner. As a result the church is able to sponsor lots of programs and local charity work. Most impressive, 40 percent of the total goes overseas for missionary work.
While Catholics can feel confidence that our Church carries the truest rendering of the message of Christ and continues the evangelical outreach of the Apostles, that doesn't mean that we don't have a ton to learn from our Christian sisters and brothers.
Kevin and Marilyn Ryan, editors of "Why I'm Still a Catholic," worship at St. Lawrence Church in Brookline.
|Page 2 of 2
If you found this article interesting please consider helping us continue to spread the Good News.