But, don't be too quick to judge. Too many Catholics treat Jesus in the same manner. How? Many of us don't tithe, but rather give when it is convenient and easy.I have a bit of a problem with the way this is put, especially the last paragraph quoted. We don't, after all, purchase our relationships with Christ. But there's more to my discomfort than this, and I think it's worth exploring a bit.
Most Catholics are tippers, not tithers. Many don't sacrificially give to God, but tip Him when they feel like it.
Most Catholics only give when convenient. This isn't a loving gift to God. Imagine if someone else only gave to you when it was convenient and never sacrificed for you. This action doesn't show a real deep love for another, but a selfishness and a love of money. [...]
A good way to examine where we are in our journey with Christ is to check our next bank statement. Have I given what I should? How does this reflect my relationship with Christ?
As I mentioned in the comment box, people often think of fulfilling the fifth precept of the Church in terms of tithing, and particularly of tithing money. The precept reads as follows (from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, number 2043):
The fifth precept ("You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church") means that the faithful are obliged to assist with the material needs of the Church, each according to his own ability.86
The faithful also have the duty of providing for the material needs of the Church, each according to his own abilities.87
I'm not a scholar or theologian, but I notice three things here: first, that the faithful are obliged to assist with the material needs of the Church, and second, that the faithful have the duty of providing for the material needs of the Church; and third, that there is no mention of tithing at all. Of course, there are plenty of references to tithing in the Bible and in the writings of the Church over the ages; but I think it's worth pointing out that the giving of ten percent of one's income or goods (etc.) is not specifically required of the faithful.
Now, when I mentioned in the Aggie Catholic combox that providing service to the Church is a way beyond the writing of a check that people can give to the Lord, another commenter was rather dismissive of the idea. Note again that precept: what does "obliged to assist" mean if it does not mean "roll up one's sleeves and pitch in," so to speak? Is it better for a parish to pay money to a crew of cleaners, or to have dedicated volunteers who will clean the church buildings, restrooms, offices etc.? Is it better for a parish to pay professional musicians and singers to provide all of the music at Mass, or to have dedicated volunteers who will offer their skills and talents in this realm? Is it better for a parish to hire a crew of temporary workers to stuff envelopes for a special appeal--or to grab the choir after Mass one day and ask them to put in an extra hour's work? (Yes, that last one happened to us, and we were glad to help.)
The truth is that while Catholics are rather stingy about donating money to their parishes, we're even stingier with our time. "I'd love to help, but I'm just too busy," is a phrase parish staff will hear frequently whenever Father needs a little extra help with groundskeeping or church decorations or fundraising or parish council business or a school or religious ed. program or anything else you can imagine; and there are far too many Catholics who assume that their weekly offering checks absolve them from any responsibilities in this regard.
That said, it is certainly true that the second part of the fifth precept does obligate us to help provide for the material needs of the Church--and this includes donating money not only at the parish level, but to religious orders, charitable works of the Church, various Catholic organizations and initiatives, and the like. But whether this means a positive obligation to give ten percent of one's pay to the Church depends on how you look at the question.
Again, I'm not a scholar in this field, but it strikes me that in the Old Testament, the tithes came from a few specific sources: crops, cattle, and land, particularly. The obligation to pay a tithe apparently came from having had these things increase; that is, if your crops failed or only barely fed your family, or if your livestock did not reproduce, or if you did not gain land, then you had no increase from which to pay the tithe. In other words, the tithe was ten percent of the fruits of your labor as measured in real, tangible goods--though it was acceptable to pay an agreed-upon sum of money instead, especially if you lived a good distance from the Temple and couldn't easily transport what you owed.
Today, of course, few of us actually own anything which increases on its own; even our homes, which most of us are renting from banks anyway, have primarily lost value. The currency we exchange for goods and services is not based upon things of real value, either, and its value can be raised or lowered according to the prescriptions of economists; in addition, the real goods and services can, and do, fluctuate in price all the time. Grocery prices, for instance, have been rising for the past four or five years, and are predicted to go up again; fuel costs are also rising. In the meantime, salaries have been flat or falling for the past two or three years, and unemployment continues to hover near the 10% mark. If we considered ourselves in any way obliged to tithe based on an increase in our fruits of labor and/or profits, its hard to say how many of us would even be obligated to do so.
And that's even before we consider the question of taxes and how that relates to tithing: if you could give ten percent of your income, should you give ten percent of the total before taxes, or ten percent of what you actually take home? Though some consider this a hair-splitting, excuse-making question, the fact is that you don't have the money that is taken in taxes--so how can you give ten percent of something you don't actually have?
But the Church, in her wisdom, doesn't place the obligation of tithing on the faithful. She simply directs us to assist in the material needs of the Church and to provide for those needs, according to our ability. That ability will vary widely from person to person and family to family, but it is an obligation we should take seriously.
A wise and orthodox priest I know counseled his parishioners to consider contributing the equivalent of one hour's salary a week to the parish. I think this is a very just and reasonable way to reflect on what we are able to give, and to make a start if we haven't already. And it has the added benefit of not placing on the faithful a burden that the Church herself doesn't place.