The nature of love is giving

The annual Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal is currently under way. The ACA helps fund nearly 40 archdiocesan ministries ranging from protecting life within the womb to serving senior citizens. Father Randy Dollins, V.G., moderator of the curia, spoke to the Denver Catholic last week about the appeal and tithing, a biblical term that means “a tenth part” and refers to the portion of personal income voluntarily given to the Church and charities as an offering to God.

Q: Why is it important to tithe?

A: Everything we have is a gift from God. So we’re called to share what’s been given to us, especially when we know there are needs or situations that we can answer.

Q: There is an anonymous quote on tithing you like: “The purpose of tithing is to secure not the tithe but the tither, not the gift but the giver, not the possession but the possessor, not your money but you for God.” What about the quote resonates with you?

A: The general idea behind tithing is that we feel there’s a need we have to give to, but the reality is we actually have a need to give because that is the nature of love and generosity. Sometimes people put the focus of tithing on securing the money, but tithing is really about securing us in our relationship with God and with those we are giving to (our neighbor).

Q: How does the Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal fit in with tithing?

A: Sometimes it’s hard for us when we give to one specific charity and then are appealed to by various other charities. We feel how can I give to so many different needs? The Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal addresses a multitude of crucial needs that exist in the archdiocese. You can help a whole bunch of them with one donation.

Q: “Disciples take risks for the kingdom” is this year’s ACA theme. How does one “risk for the kingdom” with tithing?

A: A lot of times we give out of our excess, which is safe. But tithing is really about making room in our budgets for a sacrificial gift. The ACA theme is urging people to ask is this coming out of my excess or am I going to have to sacrifice something to tithe at this level? It’s risky because we think, will I have enough money to pay for my bills and for my desires? Disciples are willing to take a risk in the way that they commit to charity (to love).

Q: What does the ACA mean to the life of the Church in northern Colorado?

A: It’s absolutely vital. When we say it helps fund nearly 40 ministries, really, without the ACA many of these ministries would not exist. It is the lifeblood of the ministerial work of the archdiocese.

Q: Who is helped by the appeal?

A: Archbishop Samuel Aquila’s ACA video focuses on the seminaries, Catholic schools, homeless shelters, Catholic Charities and Hispanic ministry, some of the bigger ministries the appeal helps support. But at the end of the day, it ends up affecting a person in need in thousands of instances. Maybe one dollar of your donation will go to a counseling session (someone benefits from), but as the body of Christ (through the ACA) we all pulled together to make that possible and we are all participating in the corporal works of mercy together.

>>> Donate to the 2015 Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal online: www.archden.org/donate, or mail to: Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal, P.O. Box 100316, Denver, CO 80250-0316

 

By the Numbers: ACA support
108 priests ordained since 2000 from the archdiocese’s 2 seminaries
1.1 million nights of shelter provided last year through Catholic Charities
600,000 meals served last year through Catholic Charities
30,000 people a year get social services or faith formation at Centro San Juan Diego
10,000 young people are being educated at 37 Catholic schools
5,300 people deepened their faith last year through Evangelization & Family Life Ministries
100-plus babies saved since 2013 by Lighthouse Women’s Center

COMING UP: Collegiality and eucharistic integrity

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The concept of the “collegiality” of bishops has been sharply contested since the Second Vatican Council debated it in 1962, 1963, and 1964. That discussion was sufficiently contentious that a personal intervention from Pope Paul VI was required to incorporate the concept of episcopal collegiality within the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church in such a way that the pope’s primacy and universal jurisdiction were safeguarded. The debate about collegiality has continued ever since. Now, however, it’s focused more on what kind of collegiality exists within national conferences of bishops. Is it an “affective collegiality” of mutual support and encouragement? Or is episcopal collegiality within bishops’ conferences “effective,” such that a conference has real teaching and legislative authority?  

Whether collegiality is “affective,” “effective,” or some combination of the two, it ought to be clear what truly “collegial” behavior isn’t.   

It isn’t individual bishops attempting end-runs around their national conference, appealing for Roman interventions that would forestall debates that their brother bishops wish to engage. It isn’t bishops trying to browbeat the conference chairman into changing an agenda to suit the tastes of a distinct minority — and misleading their brother bishops as to what they’re about when soliciting support for such a gambit. And it isn’t trying to filibuster a conference meeting so that no action is possible on an agenda item that the great majority of bishops wish to consider and act upon. 

If any of those three maneuvers qualifies as collegial, then “collegiality” has no more meaning than the claim that my poor Baltimore Orioles have a great starting rotation. 

For years now — and by “years,” I mean long before the idea of a “President Biden” entered the stream of national consciousness — the bishops of the United States have been concerned that ours is becoming less of a eucharistic Church than Vatican II called us to be when it taught that the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of the Church’s life. Pope St. John Paul II reaffirmed that conciliar summons when, in his final encyclical, he taught that “the Church draws her life from the Eucharist,” which “recapitulates the heart and mystery of the Church.” Yet all around us we see declining Sunday Mass attendance: a sadness that preceded the pandemic but has been further exacerbated by it.  Moreover, surveys suggest that too many Catholics think of Sunday Mass as essentially a social occasion, rather than an encounter with the living God in which Christ is offered to the Father and is given back to his people in holy communion — a communion in and through the body and blood, soul and divinity of Christ, received under the forms of bread and wine.

If the Church lives from the Eucharist and yet the people of the Church don’t participate in the Eucharist as often as they should, or don’t understand what they’re celebrating and receiving when they do, then the Church suffers from a serious eucharistic deficit. Those ordained to leadership in the Church are obliged to do something about that. 

That is why the U.S. bishops have been determined for some time to undertake a comprehensive program of eucharistic education throughout the Church. For the great majority of bishops, that determination has been intensified by the fact that our eucharistic deficit is being compounded by the eucharistic incoherence of public officials who, rejecting authoritative Catholic teaching based on both revelation and reason, nonetheless present themselves for holy communion as if they were in full communion with the Church. The longstanding episcopal failure to address this incoherence exacerbates the eucharistic deficit in American Catholicism by implying that the Church really doesn’t mean what it teaches about the sacred nature of the Eucharist. 

Those suggesting that this is all about “politics” are either ill-informed or deliberately misleading the Church and the gullible parts of the media. Concern for the eucharistic integrity of the Church includes, but goes much deeper than, concerns about the eucharistic incoherence of Catholic public officials who act as if the Church’s settled convictions on the life issues and on worthiness to receive holy communion don’t exist. That is why the U.S. bishops are forging ahead with developing a teaching document that will clarify for the whole Church why we are a Eucharistic community, what the Eucharist truly is, what reception of the Eucharist means, and why everyone in the Church should examine conscience before receiving Christ in the sacrament. 

The wheels of collegiality may grind slowly. In this case, however, they are grinding truly, and for the sake of the Gospel.

George Weigel is an independent columnist whose weekly column is syndicated by the Archdiocese of Denver. The opinions and viewpoints expressed by Mr. Weigel therein are his alone and do not necessarily reflect those of the Archdiocese of Denver or the bishops of Denver.