Pray for the USA!
Happy Independence Day! I remember a number of years ago two popular theologians going back-and-forth in a Catholic publication, discussing whether we are American Catholics and Catholic Americans. It was a public debate that I found to be rather pedantic. In the end, we know that we are all first gathered into one body through the Holy Spirit. That is about the substance of who we are as Catholics. Only by outward organization are we bound by our country. As Catholics, we pray for the enduring legacy of our country. We affirm the goodness of freedom and the ability to pursue happiness in our life without undue interference. At the same time, Catholics of any language, country, or generation should never be absolutely content with human government. Never should we be wary of critiquing governmental policies and laws that prohibit the free exercise of the Catholic faith in civic and public life. On this day, though, we joyously celebrate the founding of our country and the ideals that are enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
As the Diocese continues to lift certain restrictions regarding elements of our normal worship procedures, we have planned to resume taking up the collection in the regular way: “passing the basket.” I want to address a suggestion that came up in the parish survey. A number of persons suggested that we keep the baskets in the back and have individuals continue to leave their offering on their way in or out. The motives for this: “people judge me when I don’t have anything to give,” and “I give online, but when I don’t put something in the collection basket, I feel like people are watching me.” Let me be clear, if anyone is looking to see if someone is putting something into the basket, shame on you! Even during the offertory, our attention should be fixed to the carrying out of the Eucharistic celebration, not on our neighbors. To those who perceive that people are judging them, don’t make assumptions. Psychological sciences show that we think people are watching us or thinking about us way more than people are actually watching us and thinking about us. We can learn humility from the scientific fact that people very rarely think about us.
Let me explain offertory envelopes, which have your household ID on them. They help us with attendance. It is true that we key in each person’s offertory amount confidentially into our database. We track people’s offerings whether they be in envelopes or online so that we can send a tax deduction letter at the end of the year. We are required to do so by federal law. However, even when someone has nothing to give or a person gives online, dropping an empty envelope in the basket is a way to help us track attendance figures. This data is for our own use, but also has to be reported to the diocese at certain times during the year. The parish pays for each household to have envelopes not only as a reminder to be a generous giver in support of your church, but also to use to show us who’s coming each week. If your household does not receive envelopes and would like to start using them again, please contact the parish office.