Category Archives: Books

Passing the Plate: Is the scriptural tithe dead?

In Church, I seem to frequently sit in the dollar section. What I find curious is that those who merely give dollar are the same ones who drive luxur cars, have good jobs and take beautiful vacations. When it comes time to give to the Church’s ministry these same people don’t give the traditional tithe and nor do they give 5%. I think some pastors are happy if they get 1-2% from the congregants. Why are Christians –and I am particularly speaking of Catholics here– so miserly when it comes to supporting the Church and giving gifts to the priests. For goodness sake, priests don’t even get a fruit basket at Easter any more let alone a gift on the anniversary of ordination! Ecclesial ministry is not about the perks, it is a about the cross and resurrection of Christ, but there is a tradition of showing respect and love for those who
Passing the Plate.jpgpreach the God’s Word. Christian Smith, a Sociologist at the University of Notre Dame (my alma mater) co-authored a book on the giving patterns of Christians today. Passing the Plate: Why American Christians Don’t Give Away More Money, is published by Oxford University Press. The book is “Making use of social surveys, government and denominational reports, and interviews with Christian pastors and church members, the book assesses such influences on charity as consumerist culture, mistrust of the policies and competence of nonprofit administrators, the hesitation of clergy to ask for money, and the mechanisms by which American Christians give. It also suggests ways that clergy and lay church leaders might convince their congregations of the imperative of generosity.” I agree with one reviewer: this is ought to be required reading for serious pastors not because of a need for money but what it is says about thinking of Christians in the pew.

The press release

Dr Smith is also the director of Notre Dame’s Center for the Study of Religion and Society

PS: I am reminded of the purpose of the common fund collected in the ecclesial movement of Communion & Liberation:

From the Movement’s beginnings, one of its most educative actions has been the so-called “common fund.” This is a fund whose aim is the furthering of the Movement’s work through support of missionary, charitable, and cultural activities. Everyone gives freely to this fund, contributing monthly a percentage of income (at the beginning of the Movement’s history this was called the “tithe”). The purpose of this gesture is to witness to a communal concept of personal property and a growth in awareness of poverty as an evangelical virtue. The amount each one gives is not important, but what matters is the seriousness with which one fulfills this freely made commitment. It is this seriousness that permits each person to be educated to charity.

Would that clergy and people take the same idea up in the parish?

Being engaged in the work of Christian unity

A Handbook of Spiritual Ecumenism (Hyde Park: NY, New City Press, 2007), published by the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, provides numerous suggestions for Catholics engaging in private prayer for Christian unity:

St Paul and the viper Malta.jpg-Give due attention to prayer for unity in the celebration of the Eucharist;

-Insert, where possible, particular intercessions for Christian unity in the liturgical prayer of the Church, including the Liturgy of the Hours and Office of Readings;

-Offer daily prayer or devotions for the intention of Christian unity. Examples can include the Morning Offering, praying the Rosary or Eucharistic adoration;

-Seek Christian unity through fasting, penance and personal conversion;

-Unite hardships and sufferings with Christ for the intention of Christian unity.

Dominus Est … Communion in the hand? Is it good practice?

Bishop Athanasius Schneider, an auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Karaganda,
Dominus Est.jpgKazakhstan, published a book, Dominus Est, dealing with the history, theology and pastoral practice of receiving Holy Communion. The book is
reviewed by Dr. Alcuin Reid.

No doubt many of us receive Holy Communion without considering what the gesture of receiving means at the level of symbol, that is, at the level of deepest reality. We are given “a pledge of future glory,” says the prayer of Saint Thomas Aquinas, so what does it mean to mean receive this pledge in the hand? Theologically, does it mean anything to receive the Lord in the hand versus on the tongue? Do we take a gift or do we receive a gift? I wonder if the hand is the most appropriate “tool” to receive the Eucharistic Lord. If we truly believe one’s reception of the Lord in Communion is an act of reception not an act of taking, then is receiving the Lord in the hand and picking Him up with our fingers the most appropriate act of worship? The question needs to be answered in terms of how Communion is received so that we know at the deepest places in the heart, that we are receiving the Lord Himself. How does our reception of Communion exhibit the deepest reverence for the Blessed Sacrament?


The liturgy establishment -and those who pretend to know the liturgical life of the Church–have argued that receiving Communion in the hand is rooted in the practice of apostolic times. The author argues that scholars, as well as bishops and priests, have misread the early church documents about the practice of receiving Holy Communion in the hand and therefore what we know today bears no resemblance to how our Christians received Holy Communion in apostolic period. The point, therefore, is that our scholars and priests have used an archeologistic argument to force the issue of receiving Communion in hand by saying that people didn’t receive communion on the tongue in the earlier periods of Church history.


Christ as priest at Mass.jpgThis is not only a matter for the laity. The ordained need to reflect on how they receive the Eucharistic Lord, too. There is ample evidence that what the priests do today is also theologically suspect. In the earlier centuries of the Church no one, not even the pope and bishops, self-communicated Communion. Even though prayer the great Eucharistic prayer he would never presume to take Communion; It was administered to the pope, bishops and priests by the deacon. But I digress.






The book retails for $8.00, with 50% off for five or more copies to the same address ($2 each for shipping/handling). Send to: Newman House Press, 601 Buhler Court, Pine Beach, NJ 08741. Or visit:


About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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