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The 5th (and final) Precept

We made it. This weekend we wrap up the 5 Precepts of the Roman Catholic Church.  To review ever so briefly what we’ve looked at so far, the first 4 precepts were 1) to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation; 2) to confess our sins at least once a year (and any time we are aware of grave sins); 3) to receive the Eucharist at least once per year during the Easter Season; 4) to observe days of fasting and abstinence from meat.

The 5th precept is: to provide for the needs of the Church.

The Church (universally and locally) relies completely on the providence of God through the generosity of her people.  The mission of proclaiming and living the Gospel requires resources of every kind, usually neatly wrapped up in the slogan of “stewardship of time, talent, and treasure.”  The work of the Lord (evangelization, the Works of Mercy, facilitating the Liturgy, our worship, etc) all require the full and active participation of all the faithful; God calls no one to be a Christian benchwarmer!

Rather, He calls each of us to be generous with what we have, because love, which is to will the good of the other, requires generosity.  And the Lord’s greatest commandment mandates it: “Love one another as I have loved you,” and His love is total self-giving, to even the very last drop of His Precious Blood.

Do you remember the story of the Widow’s Mite, where the Lord Jesus praises the woman who gave her one penny to the Temple, even as others were making contributions of far greater monetary value?  I met a man once who shared her spirit.  He used to beg on a street corner near the seminary in Rome.  I liked to stop and chat with him, bring him a panino every once and while.  One day he wasn’t in his usual spot, but was in the street washing car windows at the traffic light, and when he saw me, he ran over with a huge smile on his face.  Something had obviously changed deep within him.  He handed me a 5 euro bill from a styrofoam cup and said, “Take this for the Church. I’ve met the Lord and now my cup runs over, and I have to drink from the saucer!” 

His work wasn’t making him rich, far from it.  He was probably making 20 euro a day.  But the Lord was finally able to break through to this man’s heart, and his newfound freedom overflowed into generosity.  I put his money in the seminary’s poor box so it would go to helping the next person.

The Biblical notion of tithing is still a praiseworthy practice, setting aside 10% of our income as charitable giving, some to the parish, some to the archdiocese, some to our favorite charities, and they all need us!  And above the financial component, the Lord asks us to be yet more generous with our most precious assets: our time and our abilities.

What a blessing it has been to see members of our parish and our Knights giving their precious free time to beautifying the campus.  What a grace to see our altar servers make over 100 sandwiches for the hungry.  What a great response we’re getting in fulfilling our Annual Appeal goal.  What a powerful witness the many ministries of our parish give in proclaiming and living the Gospel!  More of this, great people of All Saints, more of this!

In the Kingdom of God, no gift is too small, no act of kindness is under appreciated, no act of service is wasted.

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!

All you holy saints of God, pray for us!

In Christ,
Fr. Michael