What is Tithing?

Have you heard the word tithing, but aren’t sure exactly what it means? Or are you unsure if Catholics are required to give 10% of their money to the Church? What about giving things besides money, like your time or expertise?

Fr. Joseph Illo recently stopped by The Inner Life® to discuss the basics of tithing, and how we can look at it from a perspective of abundance.

As far as what tithing is, Fr. Illo said, “Tithing is a word that simply means 1/10 or 10%. The Hebrew people were bound by their law to give the first-fruits of the blessings of Yahweh back to Him. That was at least 1/10.”

So are Catholics still bound to give 10%, just as the Hebrews were? “In the new dispensation, the Church and the Christian covenant, there is not a set percentage fixed,” said Fr. Illo. “But we should give back a portion of the abundant daily blessings that God gives to us. He is the giver of good things. Everything we have, everything we are is returning to Him.”

For many people, the thought of adding charitable giving to their expenses can be stressful. It likely involves giving something up in order to give to the Church and those in need.  But Fr. Illo encouraged listeners to look at tithing from a different perspective. Looking at our lives from an eternal perspective can help us set our priorities where giving becomes an act of common sense.

“I always think that it’s better to give it now before it is taken from us – because we can’t take it with us, it’s all going to go to somebody else when we die,” Fr. Illo said. “Fr. Benedict Groeschel was one of our teachers in the seminary, when he was talking in terms of tithing money he said a priest died with a $1 million in the bank. And he said, ‘Wouldn’t it have been much more enjoyable to give the disposable income he had accrued over the years to others while he lived?'”

“That always struck me, even as a young seminarian,” Fr. Illo continued. “Don’t wait until you die to give a portion, because we’re going to give it all when we go back to God anyway.:”

In addition to being good for the world, tithing can be good for your spiritual and emotional life as well. It can make you more aware of the gifts that you do have, rather than focusing on what you don’t. It can open you up to the blessings of God, because, as Scripture tells us, Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you. (Luke 6:38)

“It’s such a blessing to give,” Fr. Illo said. “Not only financial support, but also time and prayer and talent and service. That’s the stewardship triad there – time in prayer, talent in service, and treasure in financial support. And to be able to give a portion of all that God gives us back is our greatest joy. It opens us up to God’s blessings. If we don’t share anything we block the blessings of God. So that is why we should tithe.”

“Really it’s not what we make, it’s what God gives to us. We say, ‘I make money,’ and in one sense that’s true. But everything we have – all of our talents, our energy, our position in life – it’s all from Him. So, why not? He only asks 10% and we get to keep the other 90%.”

If you would like to give back some of what God has blessed you with, consider making a pledge during our ‘Join the Family’ pledge drive! Your financial support helps people across the country and around the world hear the truth, beauty, and goodness of the Catholic faith. Make a pledge today!

Listen to the discussion with Fr. Joseph Illo below:

The Inner Life airs weekdays at noon Eastern/9:00 a.m. Pacific on Relevant Radio® and the Relevant Radio App.

Stephanie Foley serves as a Digital Media Producer at Relevant Radio®. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where she studied journalism, and she has worked in Catholic radio for 12 years. Stephanie is a wife, a mother of three boys, and in her free time she enjoys reading, running, and really good coffee. You can find more of Stephanie’s writing at relevantradio.com and on the free Relevant Radio mobile app.