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Adventures in Tithing View Comments
By Marilynn Judd

THERE IS a curious passage in the biblical Book of Malachi: “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, That there may be food in my house, and try me in this, says the LORD of hosts: Shall I not open for you the floodgates of heaven, to pour down blessing upon you without measure?” (3:10). It sounds as if God is issuing a dare to the reader.

I might have read this passage before, but it did not come alive for me until 1982 when I heard a priest quote it and witness about what tithing had done to transform his finances. That priests had financial problems was a revelation, but frequent bank overdrafts proved that my family surely did. My husband, Steve, and I had five kids in parochial schools, mortgage payments, dental and medical bills and a car dying of rust disease. I ordered the kids not to grow, but they stubbornly disobeyed, inhaling food and bursting out of their clothes. You can perhaps understand why “blessings without measure” might have appealed to me.

The bubble burst, however, when the priest spoke of tithing 10 percent of one’s gross income. “Isn’t that a typical priest idea?” I said to my husband. “What does he know about a family’s cost of living?” I spent much time muttering about the stupidity of giving away money when you needed money.

What finally turned the tide was the dare: “... try me in this, says the LORD ...” I know God keeps his word, but I also knew from past experiences that his blessings didn’t always match my wants. Nevertheless, in a leap of faith, we (with a wrong motivation) desperately and fearfully wrote those first tithing checks, off the top. “We are signing up for a life of rags and oatmeal!” I complained.

But this complaint was countered by a blessing. Steve found a shiny stone on the sidewalk. He took it to a jeweler who said it was a diamond. We were unable to find the owner, so Steve had it set into a ring for me. (We had no money before we married, so I didn’t have an engagement ring.) The new ring on my finger was a constant and sparkling reminder that tithing isn’t a doorway to deprivation and misery.

As for the oatmeal, I (almost effortlessly, it seemed) became an expert shopper and a skilled cook, finding bargains everywhere, not only on food, but on clothing and other needs also. People gave us odd gifts — the most extraordinary being a good, undented station wagon, just before our old car expired.

One day we realized, to our surprise, that we didn’t even miss the tithe. The overdrafts also stopped. God is trustworthy! In the beginning, until your trust is strengthened, God seems to go out of his way to overwhelm you with very tangible blessings. Bit by bit, negative motivations are transformed.

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Marilynn Judd is a writer from Roseville, Minn. She has written three nationally circulated newsletters and numerous magazine articles. Her latest book is Called, Equipped and Deployed to Love: The Foundation of Stewardship (Xulon Press).

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Anthony Grassi: Anthony’s father died when his son was only 10 years old, but the young lad inherited his father’s devotion to Our Lady of Loreto. As a schoolboy he frequented the local church of the Oratorian Fathers, joining the religious order when he was 17.
<p>Already a fine student, he soon gained a reputation in his religious community as a "walking dictionary" who quickly grasped Scripture and theology. For some time he was tormented by scruples, but they reportedly left him at the very hour he celebrated his first Mass. From that day, serenity penetrated his very being.
</p><p>In 1621, at age 29, Anthony was struck by lightning while praying in the church of the Holy House at Loreto. He was carried paralyzed from the church, expecting to die. When he recovered in a few days he realized that he had been cured of acute indigestion. His scorched clothes were donated to the Loreto church as an offering of thanks for his new gift of life.
</p><p>More important, Anthony now felt that his life belonged entirely to God. Each year thereafter he made a pilgrimage to Loreto to express his thanks.
</p><p>He also began hearing confessions, and came to be regarded as an outstanding confessor. Simple and direct, he listened carefully to penitents, said a few words and gave a penance and absolution, frequently drawing on his gift of reading consciences.
</p><p>In 1635 he was elected superior of the Fermo Oratory. He was so well regarded that he was reelected every three years until his death. He was a quiet person and a gentle superior who did not know how to be severe. At the same time he kept the Oratorian constitutions literally, encouraging the community to do likewise.
</p><p>He refused social or civic commitments and instead would go out day or night to visit the sick or dying or anyone else needing his services. As he grew older, he had a God-given awareness of the future, a gift which he frequently used to warn or to console.
</p><p>But age brought its challenges as well. He suffered the humility of having to give up his physical faculties one by one. First was his preaching, necessitated after he lost his teeth. Then he could no longer hear confessions. Finally, after a fall, he was confined to his room. The archbishop himself came each day to give him holy Communion. One of Anthony’s final acts was to reconcile two fiercely quarreling brothers.</p> American Catholic Blog God of love, as I come to the end of this Advent season, my heart is ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus. I join with Mary in saying, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Nothing is impossible with you, O God.

 
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