Un-Seeing What I Shouldn't Have Seen

In the last year or so, I’ve found myself accidentally seeing bits of information that I wasn’t meant to see, or learning things I wasn’t meant to know. It’s terribly uncomfortable and in some ways embarrassing. Things like overhearing a private conversation, being told something that was meant to be kept in confidence, and learning of someone’s income level. I just don’t want to know certain things.

One is particularly inappropriate and uncomfortable to know. I accidentally found out what someone I know had in a Sunday donation envelope. :blush: It was a surprisingly small amount in proportion to their lifestyle. I wish I didn’t know this. I know one week’s envelope doesn’t matter, that they could very easily give a larger donation at the end of the year, that it’s none of my business, that there’s no room for me to judge them whatsoever and on and on.

But I have this annoying scrap of information in my head. I can’t kick it out. So when I see this family buying dinners out every night of the week and buying new things, having “me” days at the salon and so many expensive treats…that little piece of information pops back into my head, unwanted. I do not want to have this in my head anymore. I don’t like feeling like I am judging another family for how they give and how they live.

How can just remove this information from my memory banks! I wish I never saw the check. :imsorry:

Try keeping this in mind.

  1. some people write large checks at the end of the calendar year

  2. other people (like myself) have automatic payments to the Church set up electronically. Once a month, the Church receives money from me automatically.

  3. some people who use automatic payments or write 1 or a few large checks per year still put a little bit in each week via the envelope. I often here from people that they do this because they don’t want people thinking they don’t donate. So they or their kids drop something in the basket.

  4. finally, some Catholics disagree with how parish funds are used. So they rather donate a majority of the tithe to Catholic organizations like seminaries, Catholic Charities, EWTN, Catholic Answers, etc.

Pray for them and give them the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps they are doing much more than it seems.

But if they are not giving what they should (and God knows), your prayers will be helpful.

I pray this helps. God Bless

When I saw this thread title, I thought it was going to be about some of the threads we see here on CAF, especially those about the, ahem, “Theology of the Body.” :slight_smile:

On a more relevant note: I can understand where you’re coming from, but there may be many reasons why they behave that way, and unless we know the circumstances, we can’t make an impartial judgment. (And even if the worst is true, “there but for the grace of God go we.” :o) Moreover, I have also seen the flip side of the coin: people who are extremely generous when it comes to contributing to the Church financially, but who cause scandal in other ways. :frowning:

The bottom line is…it’s none of your business. Period.
Who contributes what is something even the pastors don’t know.
Forget it. NOW.

*Edited to add: Only 20% of parishioners contribute to the support of most parishes…if you really knew the state of your collection versus the population of your parish, you’d be way underwhelmed. Sometimes the little old lady with the fixed income is a huge giver, and people with a huge house and car and a disabled child or a parent in hospitals are not.
It doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t have anything to do with what we think ought to happen. There’s nothing you can do to change it. *

Someone suggested that we should always think and assume the best of our neighbors, even if evidence might indicate to the contrary.

ex: A messy room --> Ah, that person is more occupied by tending to others than to oneself

Maybe in this case, the person donates large amounts of money to charitable organizations secretly…maybe not to a parish but other works of mercy…

@ Savedbygrace:

Try just praying for them.
Every time you find yourself thinking what you don’t want to think, pray the Lord to bless that person.

If you are worried this knowledge is influencing you in bad ways, think about what you do not know.

What you have is knowledge without context.

Maybe consider what motivates you to feel this way.
If it is that you don’t feel they give enough then tell yourself that that is between them and the Catholic Church alone and that no one knows others situation etc.
If it is more that your upset because they go to salons,dinners out etc and you arn’t able to (for whatever reason) then that may be a different issue.

The real problem I see here is not that you have this particular piece of information but what you’re doing with it – you’re judging them. You claim to know what their lifestyle is so you judge that the amount they gave to the church was not appropriate. Every time you see them spending their money you make a judgement on how better that money could be used. For some reason you believe you are a better arbiter of their resources than they are. Maybe you should work on that.

A lot of people would rather donate to poor parishes in the third world rather than their own parish. I usually drop a few cents of whatever spare change I have into the basket at church but will give larger sums to other charities in my own time. I prefer bank transfers as it’s easier to keep track of for my budgeting.

You can never judge what someone is doing with their money unless you are their accountant :slight_smile:

A bit harsh, no? The OP admitted to the fault of judging, but the issue is how to resist it and not give in to such faults.

Perhaps it would be desirable to have the ability of selective amnesia, but maybe this is an opportunity to learn to resist prideful judgment…even if we fail at first…or often.

Yes, this is dangerous territory for your soul. And perhaps God is allowing you to remember it so as to develop virtue. Believe me, I know how hard that can be when you don’t take advantage of opportunities like these – both to dwell on charitable thoughts, and to “mind your own business.”

Some people give in larger amounts less frequently – quarterly or monthly – but then give smaller amounts on a regular basis to “prove” their attendance at mass or their regular membership. This can be important when enrolling your child in a Catholic school at the “affiliated” (with a parish) tuition rate.

Think charitable thoughts. And remind yourself that other people’s donations are none of your business. Focus on what you can control – your donations, your contributions of time, talent, and treasure. :thumbsup:

We give electronically once per month, and then our kids each put in a quarter from their “allowance” every week (we have them divvy it up into “save,” “spend,” and “give,” and the quarter is the “give” amount.) I do sometimes wonder if people look at my kids putting 50 cents in the basket and think we are cheapskates. :whistle: I understand why they didn’t want to print unneeded envelopes, but I will admit I felt a lot better being able to check off “electronic donation” and put that in the basket every week (especially since it concretely showed our kids that we do in fact give, and they don’t have to just take our word for it. We pay with cash for things partly for that reason too - to make it concrete.)

I struggle with that kind of information popping into my head unwanted too. But thinking about how I might look to other people about things in my life does help. :stuck_out_tongue:

Sorry if I sounded harsh, I wanted to point out what I thought was the more important issue. I’m sure every one of us has some information about someone that we wish we didn’t. Instead of stressing over trying to forget it, the OP could maybe pray about their own inclination to judging others.

You took the words from my mind. pianistclare… Totally none of your business OP ; I read your post with jaw on the ground… Someone wise once advised me " Keep your eye on your own page…"

And I find with my trading etc that yes the poor give far more than the rich. They know what deprivation is

Smiled at this. I had to meet some visitors from the US and my yellow car was muddy from the lanes. When I mentioned it the kind reply was, Ah just someone too busy to wash it.

It is not right for us to rebel against our natural desire for information. There are some things we don’t need to know, but since we know them, we might as well keep them in mind.

Now that you have acquired information about others, it would be wrong for you to ‘unlearn’ it. Such an attempt would go against the brain’s natural desire to store memories in memory cells.

It would not be wrong for you to hold on to the knowledge you gained, provided that you refrain from drawing conclusions. As vz71 said in post #7, as well as what others may have indicated, the knowledge you gained is without context.

*If *you happen to gain more information about the family, which may include the context behind their decisions concerning Parish donations, then you may alter your mindsets and feelings accordingly. Until then, know that you don’t know much, and refrain from producing concluding statements.


Here is one possibility: God might have allowed you to see the contents of the envelope, knowing that you’ll keep it in mind, and therefore, be potentially inclined to start praying for the family. Prayer is always good.

I do the books at my parish. So I see everyone’s giving, weekly, monthly, and in total. And, I see how they live compared to what they give.

So I understand your situation.

Here’s what I do: I just say to myself, “you never know what’s going on in their house unless you are in their shoes.” And I move on.

Because I also see the generosity of people who I think should probably be giving less, maybe that balances it out. I see the widow’s mite while I also see the one who could maybe afford to give more.

And, frankly, all it makes me do is examine my own self, not them. It makes me ask if I could be giving more.

Since you’re in charge of the numbers, you shouldn’t feel guilty about knowing people’s donation amounts.

People need to understand is that the Church is a community, and that the members of a community need to know about one another.

It is not wrong to know other things about people. Savedbygrace71 wants to forget about what she learned, which can be detrimental. We shouldn’t go around planting bugs on people. At the same time, though, it would be extreme to try and forget whatever information we learn, especially if we’re required to learn things about others e.g police detective, lawyer. Whatever knowledge we gain could be useful in the future, depending on *how *we use it. And it’s certainly possible to use unneeded information in beneficial ways, such as prayer.

Information helps humans connect with each other, and connection is necessary to develop and maintain communities.

Bottom line; it’s none of your business what someone puts in the envelope. Move on to something more important in your life.

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