Elderly Tithing



My mom is 94 years old. Recently she has decided to not tithe any longer due to a limited income. She is now feeling guilty to the point of crying daily.

She is starting to obsess over the matter and I am trying to find a rule for tithing. Obviously the Church does not require elderly with fixed income to give although the widow mite comes to mind.

Is there some sort of age rule I can show her that releases her from this responsibility?




From a CAF document (emphasis added):

“Although the Church teaches that offering some form of material support to the Church is obligatory for all Catholic adults who are able to do so, it doesn’t specify what percent of one’s income should be given.”

Can she afford to put a quarter or a dollar or something in each week? That way maybe she’d feel like she was doing her part without breaking the bank.


Did you help push her along in her decision at all? When it comes to the elderly I’ve come to realize it’s best to let them make their own decisions whenever possible. They are more wise than us whether most of us will admit it or not.

The Council of Trent’s documents say we should tithe though my understanding of current canon law only says we are to provide for the Church in whatever ways we can, whether financial or otherwise. If she’s been tithing so for so long perhaps she may as well just keep it up if she is able and now feels that badly about it.


I hope this helps.


Also, here is something that came to mind:

Mark 12: 38-44:

In the course of his teaching he said, "Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in the marketplaces,


seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets.


They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext, recite lengthy prayers. They will receive a very severe condemnation."


He sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums.


A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents.


Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, "Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury.


For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood."

Also, please scroll down to footnote 7 and 8 and click the corresponding links.

Would it be possible for her to put in a few coins?

I think tithing is not a matter of age and we might sometimes forget that tithing isn’t so much about the money itself but about giving thanks to God. Just because you give less doesn’t mean you love God less. Please bring her with you to the priest so the priest can tell her the right thing and hopefully set her worries to rest.


Seems like a lot of elderly are losing whatever interest they were getting before. When expenses exceed SS, without that interest one’s life savings runs dry pretty quickly these days. My dad was on about 10 different medications just before he passed away at 91; he had long lost his savings even when interest rates were higher.


Read with her:

Isaiah 11:1; And Psalm 50:8;

First, she is under no obligation to tithe (nor are any of us)…the percentage of Catholics who offer 10 percent of their income is very small.
If she has contributed with a glad heart when she could, she has been a good and faithful servant.


Is your bishop requiring one tithe…? I doubt it.

The Church does *not *require one to tithe (give 10%)- but one gives according to ones means…and that is going to be less now for her. (See the Catechism).


The problem is not with her tithing or not, the problem is her misunderstanding of the faith and perhaps she is having a hard time dealing with becoming elderly and it manifests itself this way. You could show her things till the cows come home but it won’t help, because it is not the real problem here.


Catechism of the Catholic Church:

The fifth precept (“You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church”) means that the faithful are obliged to assist with the material needs of the Church, each according to his own ability. (2043)





This is more to point. Some issues with parishioners have her not liking the parish that is in her back yard, literally. Frankly she has been contributing for over 60 years and has to actually call for the Eucharist or a priest visit. She can’t drive nor sit in a pew for long so Mass quite impossible.

I guess it’s a 3 fold issue, age, mentally slipping, lack of support from the parish and while she can afford something having a fixed income stressful.

If she needs a new roof on her house the parish won’t contribute as they have been non existent aside from requesting donations.

In fact the more I think of it I bet the lack of support by the parish more at fault, why should she contribute when it is apparent they do not lift a finger to help and long time, since 1955, parishioner. You’d think they could put her on a weekly or biweekly visit…

I’m out of state and considering a move back as she is slipping more as of late and other family members closer having issues.




I would be careful blaming the parish. Most parishes are doing the best they can with very little in the way of support. And I would also be careful not to view this as some sort of entitlement that because she gave x number of dollars for y number of years that she is entitled to any more or less than any other parishioner. You say you are not in town? Do you volunteer to help those in your parish, do you take the Eucharist to them without being asked? Does your priest make unannounced or unplanned house calls? We all should do more. Perhaps instead of focusing on blaming the parish you could be a force for good in helping fix the problems, not only in her parish but also in yours.


Dear ElPaso,

If I could make a suggestion: Stephan Ministry. The Stephan Ministry always help with the elderly. Maybe her parish or another local parish has this ministry.

Our Stephan Minister visited, once a week, a 93 year old uncle of an out–of-state niece. The niece had contacted my Parish Stephan Ministry. The Stephan Minister would bring Communion, visit for an hour. The uncle was isolated, due to age, and the inability to drive. The Stephan Minister would contact the niece periodically to keep her up to date on her elderly uncle’s status.

Please be aware, there are Protestant brothers and sisters, who are Stephan Ministers. So, no Communion if they are Protestant. Still, a worthwhile ministry.


As a faithful Catholic, she still wants to support her church, Why not give for her?

Dcn. Frank


if that is $2 or $10…it is all according to ones means…


Does her parish know her needs? If the parish has a Knights of Columbus Council/Assembly that they’d be more than willing to help her with such needs–such needs are one of the reasons they exist. You could also contact the person in charge of her parish outreach program. As for communion, ask if someone could bring it to her. In other words, look into what the parish has available before assuming they don’t care–they probbably don’t know. :slight_smile:

About the tithing, if she has no money to spare–many older people are on fixed incomes that barely pay for food, shelter, and meds–tell your mom that her prayers for the parish are her tithe. I’m sure her pastor would agree with that definition. :yup:

All the best to you and your mom. I will remember her in my Evening Prayer intentions. :crossrc:


There is no age based exemption, but people are only expected to contribute according to their means. If someone can’t give anything, they aren’t obligated. That said, it is perfectly acceptable to give a very small amount. As a money counter, I see church envelopes that only have a dollar in them. Any amount is fine.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.