Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Quizzical Tithing

It was a beautiful spring evening when Madelene and I were driving down the road. She was upset, due to what the doctors had told Madelene about her mother’s health. The doctors stated that she has a mass on her pancreas. They need to do some testing. “It’s only what the doctors told her. God has already healed her.” I said, trying to reassure Madelene that God’s power is much stronger than the doctor’s diagnosis. Her mother has been through a lot, between back surgeries, having fibroid myalgia, to even losing her husband due to a stroke, back in 2003. Between the emotional distress and the excruciating physical pain she endured for some time, my heart went out to her. Can’t she just have a break? Can’t her life be peaceful for even just a week?

I decided to pull into the parking lot of this magnificent Catholic Church, which I used to attend before I became a born again Christian. There was a section in the church, dedicated to those who just wanted to light a candle and kneel at a private alter to pray. I thought it would be a good idea if we talked to God about it, instead of having negative thoughts being inflicted upon us.

We walked inside the beautiful church. The cathedral ceiling and the awesome architectural design were amazingly overwhelming. Each sculpture was hand crafted to perfection. We walked over to where we saw glowing flickers of light that sat nearby the private alters. “Come on, let’s go over there and pray.” I took Madelene and led her to the alter. I went over to what seemed to appear as candles. Instead of real candles, they had dim lights with a plastic cover on each of them. The sign read, “Please give a dollar before pushing the light.” A light? It wasn’t even a real candle! The mere thought of paying to push an electric light to pray was absolutely inscrutable and outright rude! I’ll tithe at my own will, thank you. What happened to the days when we could walk into a church, light a candle and say a prayer without someone nudging us for money? Money wasn’t the issue here, it was the principle of the matter.

When I was little, my mother and I attended this very church. Instead of the fancy building they built on the grounds, we prayed in a church that was also converted into a gymnasium. I used to also attend their CCD classes after school there. One Sunday morning, my mother and I sat in the front row during mass. The priest went on about how his friends were coming over to stay with him, but he didn’t have enough room for all of them. He asked the members of the church to donate money, so that he could build a separate house on his property for his guests. My mother laughed, as she tried hiding it with a loud cough. “Is he kidding? He wants us to pay for a house?” Meanwhile, there were people sitting among us, sharing a one bedroom apartment with five different roommates. Lovely, right?

The priest then continued to tell us about how he needs funding for new chairs in the church. Well that was it. My mother got up, and said, “Let’s just get out of here, Deb!” I followed her. As I followed her while she was trying to make a stormy exit, she tripped upon one of the chairs.

“See! See? This is why we need funding for more chairs! Mrs. Pasquella, are you okay?”
“Yes Father, I’m okay.” She said, dusting herself off from the embarrassing fall.
“Do you want a shot of scotch for the pain? I have some in my office.”
“No, I don’t. Thank you.”

That was enough. My mother and I never attended that church again. This same priest was charged with molesting children at his parish. When I was on a retreat with the rest of my CCD class, we had to stay inside a cement building with rooms which had little cots as beds. It looked more like a jail. At confession, there weren’t any booths with a black mesh gate to separate you and the priest. You went inside one of their ‘bedrooms’ and sat with the priest on a cot.

“Come in dear.” The white haired priest said, while tapping his hand on the cot. I stared at him. It wasn’t normal. I looked in his eyes, and then looked down at the cot- the bed he was sitting on. I saw him motion for me to come sit next to him. His actions were urbane and almost reassuring that nothing of an inappropriate nature would take place. But something told me to leave right away.

Years later, this priest was charged with sexual molestation of young boys. I guess I was safe since I was a girl, but to think how many boys- actually how many men came forward to admit their horrible memories to the authorities.

I’m very leery about extravagant churches begging people for money. I do realize, in order to have a church still standing, tithing is necessary, however, the reasons indicated why they needed donations from people less fortunate than them was unnerving. This Catholic Church left a very bad taste in my mouth. And the other night, it left another negative experience looming within my thoughts.

With all that being said, would you keep Madelene's mother in your prayers? It's the best donation we could ever ask for!


Leesa said...

~deb, sorry to hear about your dealings with the Catholic church. I have had much happier experiences with the Catholic church (no tithing lectures, though I have been to a church where that was an issue).

The priests who molest children are awful, but the worse part is when the Church covers it up (think Boston, Seattle). People seem to forget that is the real black mark on the Catholic church.

And M's mother will be in my prayers.

kathi said...

I'm sorry about Mad's mom, and I'll definitely be praying for her.

I don't see it as begging as much as it is demanding, in some church's, anyway. Truth, though, is tithing isn't suppose to be an option. Ten percent isn't ours to keep. However, that's between you and God, but it is the churchs responsibilty to teach that. That being said, they're not to force us to tith anymore than they are to force us to pray or keep His commandments.

~Deb said...

Leesa: You’re absolutely right. They do cover up for one another. I believe it’s to save their own church’s reputation- but still! They covered up this guy for years. They knew what he was doing. That’s the sad part. These people in my opinion, are just as guilty.
Thank you for keeping Madelene’s mother in your prayers!

Kathi: No, I totally agree about the 10% is always God’s money. I just can’t stand when the church ‘assumes’ that you don’t tithe. You make a great point regarding tithing and keeping the commandments. Thanks Kath!

Crassius Maximus said...

Being Irish Italian I should be double Catholic, but I myself was creeped out by an experience I had over at St. Pius X, so you aren't alone in that. I will say a prayer for Madeline's mom. Moms are the best and we need them to be 100%.

~Deb said...
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~Deb said...
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~Deb said...

Crass: Thanks so much!

GW Mush said...

I never tithe cuz I figure that Rich Republicans help the poor:)

Catch said...

I will pray for Ms Mom Deb. And Im not even going to get into the Catholic religion.....but covering up for those Priests was one of the worse things they could do.

Maddie said...

Thank you sooo much, Deb for the prayer requests for mom. She loves you so much and so did my dad, as do our whole family. Heck, you know my male cousins and brother are trying to get with you! But I believe as we have prayed many times together, that Jesus is in control. "By His stripes we are healed." "Himself bore our sicknesses and carried our diseases." We believe this and know it to be True. I am standing on the Word, that is my confession. Thanks to you Deb, with all my heart and love. You are a rock of faith, and love to me.

Thank you all for your prayers and we will have a great testimony!

Enemy of the Republic said...

Will do, Deb. And God bless you for caring.

Pittchick said...

My church still has actual candles that you can light. I will definitely keep Madeline's mom in my prayers.

Take 2 said...


I certainly will be praying!!! You have such a compassionate and loving heart. I love that about you.



~Deb said...

GW Mush: Do they?

Catch: Thank you for your prayers!!! Yes, it was terrible covering up someone with a disease, which affected many boys in the perish.

Maddie: You are welcome! Your mother is so given, so generous, so loving, and all she wants is a peaceful life. I love her, and I also love your dad who is no longer with us. Jesus is in control and He knows what each of you need. You and your mother are my family. Prayers are so valuable right now in this time of need. And yes, we will have great testimony! We believe it, because we know it to be true. We speak it, and it comes in fruition! I love you!

Enemy of the republic: Thank you so much!

Pittchick: Where’s your church? The ones around here have slots for quarters and dollars. It’s so discouraging. (Not that I mind donating money.) But you know what I mean!

Take 2: With the love I have for the people in my life, it’s very easy to be compassionate towards them. Thanks for stopping by Dana!

Dirk_Star said...

Can you feel the healing power of the electric Jesus?

Now, off we go into the wild blue yonder...

Charm School Reject said...

You shouldn't have to pay for Jesus. A donation is always nice but seriously, you can pray anywhere so why should you have to pay for the right to use their pews?

Covering up for molesters is beyond anything in this entire world. Our church has a lengthy process we go through "screening" the people who will have contact with the children bc this problem is so rampant, church's liability insurance is going through the roof.

anyway, I will be praying for you, M and her mom. Times like these are when you really appreciate the time you have had with a person. Ihope everything goes well and she makes a speedy recovery!

Its all up to Jesus. I've seen some crazy stuff where children have had cancer and then when they went back, after no treatment, it was gone. So many miracles. I hope and pray M's mom gets one!

~Deb said...

Dirk: The electric lights really dimmed the whole experience for me!

Charm School Reject: I definitely believe in miracles, and the power of prayer! Thank you so much for the prayers for Mad's mom. That's the best thing we can ever receive. The power of God's healing is much stronger than what any doctor can ever diagnose.