THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
Her Doctrine and Morals
The Feast of the Purification
2 February 2020
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God is our Creator. Everything and everyone belongs to Him. In His goodness, God has decreed that He will accept the first fruits or the tenth of all that we have, leaving us to dispose of what remains for our own needs and desires. In this sense, the first-born male in every family belongs to God (Exodus 13:2).
In the Old Testament, rather than take the first-born male from every family, God arranged to dedicate every male from one family. The priests were all of the family of Aaron (Exodus 29:44). In the New Testament, God calls those He desires to serve Him in the priesthood or religious life from among the general population.
The forty days of Mary's purification have been completed and the time to submit her Firstborn to God has arrived. Obviously, Mary is Immaculate and has no need to be purified, and Jesus is God and does not need to be sanctified to God. He obviously already belongs to God because He is God. These laws were complied with, simply, to fulfill the law and not to draw attention to Himself before the proper time.
We also see the origins of the law of tithing or giving of one-tenth to God. One of the Laws of the Church is that we must contribute to the support of the Church. In keeping with the original intent, the first-tenth of our labor belongs to God and so this is what is given during the offertory at Mass. This sacrifice makes us participants in the Sacrifice of the Mass uniting our personal sacrifice with Jesus' Sacrifice upon the altar. This is an acknowledgment of our debt to God and is a redemptive act, in that we substitute money in place of our very selves. When we cannot give of ourselves, we then substitute with the tenth or the first fruits of our labors, and thus redeem or buy our lives back from God to Whom they truly belong.
Shortly after the "Vatican II" council, many "Traditionalists" promoted the idea that Catholics should continue to attend the churches but that they should not make any monetary contributions lest they support the errors then being implemented. The catchphrase was, "every dime is a crime." There are many things wrong with this, which those versed in the traditions and spirit of the Church should have understood. Yes, the local church can be crippled and even destroyed monetarily by refusing to support it. However, if you attend there and do not help to support it, you are simply a thief taking but not giving. Those who follow this logic are also in violation of the Law of the Church to contribute to the support of the Church. Perhaps most importantly, they are failing in their obligations to God. They are harming themselves more than they are their priest or bishop.
Our offerings are our way of redeeming ourselves. It is how we obtain the application of the mercies of God to ourselves. When we fail in this matter, we fail to participate in the Sacrifice of the Mass by our own sacrifices. In failing to participate we also fail to receive the benefits of this Sacrifice. While we may financially injure God's representatives, we do much more spiritual harm to ourselves. There is the sin against the Law of the Church, there is the sin of stealing spiritual things, and there is the affront to God Himself through His representatives.
It is more in keeping with the Spirit of the Church as well as her laws to refrain altogether from worship with those who do not hold true beliefs and practices. We must not support heretics in their errors, but we must also refrain from worshiping with them or participating in their religious practices. We cannot simply attend but not contribute take but not reimburse.
If we find that we have no truly Catholic church to worship in, we must still continue to make our tithing or offering of our first-fruits. The law to contribute to the support of the Church is not negated. We must support the Church even if we do not have the Mass available to ourselves. Our obligation does not cease. We cannot support false churches any more than we can attend them. The law to assist at Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of obligation is not fulfilled by attending heretical ceremonies. If the Catholic Mass is not available to us then we are under no further obligation in this law. If we have identified the true Church somewhere else then we must send our support and offerings there. The true priests and bishops pray for us and offer sacrifice for us when they are supported by us. When priests must spend their day in worldly labors to support their lives, they are taken away from offering Sacrifices and prayers to God.
The priest is supposed to be able to live from the altar. The Mass stipend should be enough to provide for the material needs of that priest for the day. Our tithing is meant to provide for the other needs of the Church charitable works, schools, seminaries, utilities, transportation, taxes, etc. In providing material support to the Church and her priests, we receive the benefits of her Sacrifices, prayers, and works.
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