Jesus says very clearly we are not to charge money for the Holy Sacraments and other things like catechism classes for the children. “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils: freely have you received, freely give.” Matthew 10: 8.
Much damage took place when Luther protested about selling indulgences. But in this aspect he was right. The problem still exist in the church today. The sin of Simony.
“Simony is usually defined “a deliberate intention of buying or selling for a temporal price such things as are spiritual of annexed unto spirituals”. While this definition only speaks of purchase and sale, any exchange of spiritual for temporal things issimoniacal. Nor is the giving of the temporal as the price of the spiritual required for the existence of simony; according to a proposition condemned by Innocent XI (Denzinger-Bannwart, no. 1195) it suffices that the determining motive of the action of one party be the obtaining of compensation from the other.” Catholic Encyclopedia New Advent
Here in Mexico the priests normally do not receive a salary so they charge for everything. There is a high price for a mass intention, for a private mass, for a wedding, for a baptism, and for any other of the sacraments except confession and anointing of the sick.
Before the Mexican catholic would go along with what ever had to be done so that they could have a mass said or receive a sacrament from a priest. But things are changing quickly as more and more are becoming protestants or Jehovah Witnesses or Mormans or Evangelists or atheists. Besides this you find many catholics here who just are catholics and never practice their faith.
When I went to the radiator mechanic, he said he did not go to church because they charge a lot for everything and because of church politics. I totally agreed with him about the sin of charging for masses and sacraments. I also totally agreed with him about the politics. But what I did not agree with was not practicing the catholic faith. I told him that if every catholic in the world was wrong, I would still never leave the true faith of Jesus Christ. But in no way does that change the immoral behavior of charging for holy sacraments and catechism classes.
But it is not just in Mexico, but in the United States as well. We priests receive salaries in the United States. So priests are not as demanding for money as here in Mexico. But nevertheless if you go to almost every parish in the USA you will be quoted a price for a mass intention, wedding, and some times even funerals. Just call an ordinary parish and ask.
Canon Law allows for a stipend for mass intentions. The normal stipend for a mass intention is now $10. But when I was pastor,I always told the secretary to say the suggested donation was $10. You may say that is the same thing as charging and in a way it seems that way. I should be just what ever donation someone would like to give.
The same was done for weddings and 15era’s. We said the suggested donation was $200 if they would like to give that. But never was it set or asks for. My cathedral charges a very high price for weddings. Yes they include other things like music, coordinator and priests stipend. But still there is a price for the Holy Sacraments.
Non catholic Non-denominational churches may not charge you, but many of them ask for a copy of you W-2 tax form. Then you are expected to tithe 10% of your salary. This is so wrong too. Yes we should tithe 10%. But we should not oblige anyone to give to the church. Some people are not allowed to come to these churches if they do not tithe.
Also here in Mexico the sects begin by giving you money and clothing and help you get work if you convert away from the catholic church. But later on they start asking for money too.
What is the root of all this? Lack of faith and running churches and dioceses as if they are businesses. If only dioceses, parishes, priests and parish workers would trust in God to take care of the bills instead of charging for everything. Diocese invest in the stock market which exploit the poor and make money from immoral practices. The German church was getting money from a publishing company that publish pornography until it came out in the news.
Mother Theresa taught and practiced to never have fund raisers or charge money to take care of the poor. She said “if you do God’s will you will have enough money to serve God, the poor and others”. I took her advice seriously when I started the St. Francis Catholic Kitchen in Santa Cruz California. We always had plenty of money. I did at one point do a fundraiser for the Jesus, Mary and Joseph’s Home for homeless mothers and children that I started too. But really I should never had done that. I regret that still today. God would have come up with the $300,000 it cost to buy it (I think it was in 1987 when we purchased it). And the fundraising only came up with a very small portion of it anyway. We ended up paying cash for it and remodeling it. Some people lent me money at no interest and for as long as I needed to have it. I paid them back very quickly.
In the 10 years as pastor of St. Patrick’s in Ripon California, the same thing was true. We never charged for anything and just gave a suggested amount for the donation. Money would just come in and come in. The collection was always very good.
I never talked about money at church, except when I was obliged to for the Bishop’s Ministry Appeal. If we priests and bishops are doing God’s will, we will have more than enough money. Look at all the money that was invested and now is lost to law suits. Billions of dollars that belonged to the catholic people have been lost. That money could have helped the poor, built more churches and schools. But we keep on charging money, asking for more money, and investing money in the stock market.
But also we need to not work on Sunday. Many people do not go to church because the work on Sundays. Why, because they think they need the money. Cannot God provide the money we need if we obey keeping the Lord’s day holy? My Uncle had a grocery store in Corralitos California. He worked on Sundays too. My dad and myself told him it was wrong. He always used the excuse that he had high expenses. Finally he closed on Sundays. In the end he made just as much money in 6 days as he did before in 7 days.
The psalms say it well; Even if a man works from dawn till night fall he can still be broke, while another man while he is sleeping, God pours out financial blessing on him.
Thank you to all you that are reading this for all your generous gifts of money and time to your parishes, to the poor and others. Instead of investing money, the church needs to trust that everyday enough money will come from you generous catholics. Thank you so much for all you have done. God is never out done in generosity. But it does take a great deal of faith. Please Lord give us faith that you will take care of us. Many of you reading this may be going through a hard time financially. Please have faith that God will take care of you eventually. Also live simply and only buy what you need, not what you want.
Never get in debt if you can help it. Never Never. Buy only what you have saved up for and can pay cash for. Buy used things. Make sacrifices to not have everything. The poor here in Mexico get by with what ever they have. Very very few have a car. Most cars are old and junky. But they are just fine. The poor do not have credit so they do not owe on their tiny homes. But sad to say the banks are making more and more loans to the poor and they charge them very high interest.
Talk about catholic tradition. The church condemned taking interest.
The original author of this blog passed away in July of 2016. RIP Father Carota.