There are a bunch of paper cards at the back of my local church. They are pretty simple, and when you first see them, it isn’t clear that they have any purpose whatsoever. All they have written on them is the sentence: “I give through eGive!”
The “eGive” being referred to is actually a pretty cool company that “was founded on a simple idea: make online giving easy and affordable for churches.” I think the company accomplishes this task. They give churches an online platform whereby they can register and manage donations from members who can sign up for automatic payment plans.
The problem that my local parish apparently encountered, was that people were so used to placing cash and checks in the collection basket as it went by on Sunday, that they felt weird simply passing it along, even if eGive was a better option for them. This is where the cards come in. Upon entering the church on Sunday, parishioners can now pick up an “I give through eGive!” card and stow it away until the collection comes along. Then they can take out the card, and place it in the basket, signaling to everyone around them that they are in fact charitable people.
These cards are, of course, of no value. So rather than staying with the actual cash and checks in the donations basket, they are sorted out, and (you guessed it) placed again at the back of the church to be used next week.
It’s funny how just saying out loud what is actually happening can make people think about it for the first time and realize how absurd it is. I found all of this especially ironic when the Gospel reading one week was from the Sermon on the Mount: “beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:1-4). I have to think our pastor felt weird reading this Gospel, having just recently given his stamp of approval to the eGive card project. It is just silly, stupid, and I daresay sinful. We shouldn’t care whether other people think we give or not, and our priests should make that very clear, no matter how much financial trouble the parish is in.
Even if your parish doesn’t use this system and you are discreet about giving your money, it is probably worth taking some time to consider other trumpet blowing habits you might have. Social media is probably the other big one. Do you regularly post pictures of the charity work you do or the sacrifices you are making? It doesn’t matter how lovely the description of the work is or how many times you put “#blessed” underneath the photo. When all your friends tell you how wonderful you are, the point is that you have received your reward. Stop writing posts about your holy hour or how much you love going to daily mass.
We get it. You are pious. You love Jesus.
…or do you?