Question about Catholicism and discretionary income


I live in an area with a lot of Catholics (I am no longer a Catholic by the way but was once) and I just had a question about living as “a Catholic.”

The area I live is very nice, and my family lives modestly, which is probably from my conservative upbringing. A lot of my neighbors indulge themselves in all sorts of excesses, like pools, sports car, etc…I understand that they’re entitled to do what they want, but many of them are against things like Universal Health Care, freak about social programs generally, etc…and I just think sometimes that they should be concentrating more of their efforts on using that money to help out the poor and less fortunate.

Especially during these tumultous times a lot of good people need help. Shelters, etc…are desperate for assistance, so if you have money to build a river through your yard, shouldn’t you be reallocating that money to help people?

Isn’t that the Christian thing to do? Isn’t it more important to help your brother or sister in faith than it is to buy a pool, or a Corvette when you can go to the YMCA or just use your Audi to drive around?

I find it strange to see so many people living like this. Maybe my family was different when I was a kid, but it just seems like people are more concerned about “self” now. I’m no longer Catholic, but I still believe strongly in giving, and not indulging in excess.

So, my question: Are they wrong, or is living like that fine?

I don’t really know how they are living. However, if we have discretionary income we tend to make sure the Church has extra, giving to the Archdiocesan Fund is amply maintained and Catholic Charities gets a monthly chunk. Then there’s the poor box, groceries for our St Vincent de Paul house etc.
Right now my DH has been out of work since January 09. He has had two knee operations and a heart attack reguiring a hospital stay and surgery. His next surrery is tomorrow, another heart surgery.
Most all our giving has had to be cut back. But I found a way to have catholic Charities directly withdraw their amount monthly from my checking account so I don’t even know it’s gone. I wish ADF would go back to doing it that way and they could have some too.
We are not comfortably well off. We are living on my paycheck and having cashed in what was left of our stock and our life insurance. My job is as a social worker for the state of OKlahoma. After taxes, medical inurance for my spouse and me, medicare and social security my net is about $2k monthly. Often less because I am taking my husband to doctor’s appointments and so forth for which I do not have paid leave. Thank God for my job and my pay though.
Anyway, we manage to do somefor the Church and still add to the poor box weekly.

That’s actually a lot like what I would expect. It’s how my parent’s lived. Although we could have lived VERY well by some standards.

I’m certainly not expecting people to throw themselves into poverty to supports others, but I just find so many of these “devout” Catholics to be hypocrites. They all say one thing, but in the end they live for themselves. For the pool, cars, gardening, etc.

Keeping enough money in the bank to support yourself IF something goes wrong is smart. I understand that, I just don’t understand the discretionary spending. Maybe it’s just people where I live, but they are so religious, but don’t really live like I would expect from growing up the way I did.

Yet such a judgment is not your to make.
You have no idea what they give privately or the nature of their prayers or intentions.
Come on now … and why focus such judgment on Catholics?
Why not on anyone who lives selfishly when you know that such is the case.

Yet, analyzing your neighbors’ spending is a grim way to pass the time.

I’m no longer Catholic, I have no problem judging others. :slight_smile:

I’m saying I don’t care what they give, maybe they give a lot. I was just under the impression that part of being Catholic wasn’t taking a vow of poverty, but it was about more than the pools, and cars. If you have that additional cash, and know that so many others are in need, shouldn’t you give more?

Does a pool in any way out value what you could do by giving to the less fortunate? Or is this Capitalist Catholicism?. I’ve just never been sure how you reconcile excess with your obligations to care for others.

I don’t know, these same people have charity events all the time, etc…and a lot of people that have so very little come out and give for these things. Yet, in the end if the people across town with so little can give something, why shouldn’t they sacrifice the pool to give MORE.

Oh, and please don’t reply with such a petty response like your last line. It’s a tad childish honestly. The fact that I have questions about these things, and engage in conversations about them, in no way means I obsess over them or “pass the time” dwelling on them. I find religion interesting, and the discussion has come up from time to time in my life. I had some free time on Sunday, and thought I would ask the question on a forum.

I’m just thinking out loud, not trying to offend anyone so please do likewise.

So sorry if you’re feeling offended.
So far, I guess you object to ownership of pools? Maybe?

My point is that no one knows what motivates another in “owning” or in “giving.”

You find religion to be interesting.
I find my faith to be compelling.

I’m as free as you to air my opinions. That’s how it works on forums.

Get a grip, please.
Coming to a Catholic site to complain about Catholics is strange, imo.

It seems to me that you are defining “excess” as “the stuff YOU can’t afford, or have chosen not to buy.” Ponder this a little further:

Wouldn’t somebody from Kenya be able to make the same charge against YOU? Do you REALLY need more than a couple changes of clothes? air conditioning (house or car)? eating out? movies? vacations?

It’s an eye opening excercise in self awareness, isn’t it!? We really DON’T need all those things, so why do we have them? Because they make our lives more pleasant.

The gospel certainly requires us to make sacrifices in charity to help others. My bishop suggests that people give 5% to parish, 1% to diocese and 4% to other charitible causes. (Keep in mind that a portion of the parish and diocese moneys end up doing this too). But it isn’t a requirement because everyone’s situation is different.

Yes, people will have to answer some hard questions about what we did with our money in this life. But before getting smug, recognize that you will be one of them!

Dear Hope,
You bring up a good point. Just remember Protestants, athiests, pagans also drive Cadilacs, own jewelry and pools. etc. etc. etc…
I do not have much in this world but what I do have I share with my family. I send grocery bags full of pantry items to my kids. I know how hard it is for young families so if I can help out in this “little way”, I hope they are receiving a blessing.
I do not know why I am replying to your post.
I wish you the best and I pray that God, his Angels, and our Heavenly Mother watches over you. May our Heavenly Father give you a generous giving heart. For it is truly better to give than to receive.
By the way. What charitable organization do you belong to? :thumbsup: Just curious. Sometimes the person who is doing the harshest judging is doing so out of guilt.

God’s Blessings to you,


Would it be better to do so on a Protestant forum?

Unless you know for sure that these Catholics are not giving to any good causes then I’d be careful about saying that is true. On Long Island where I live, Catholic people tend to do both. On the outside they might look like they are living kind of well( DH and I don’t have a pool but there are 2 cars in the driveway and a hot tub on the deck that my husband built himself) but if you know them you would know that they are tithers like us or give of themselves at church, Habitat for Humanity, soup kitchens, fund raising walkathons/marathons etc.
I don’t believe that God is calling all to completely give up everything . True, he does call some to do that. True, some aren’t very good stewards but you don’t really know that unless you actually know them. Oh and the protestants I know tend to be the same. Many of them are spending a lot of time toward more worldly pursuits instead of being the typical bible quoting , proselytizing, tee-totaling protestants we tend to get around here. Some people do what they should do and some don’t.:shrug:

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