Financial aspect of the priestly ministry

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

“WITHOUT cost you have received; without cost you are to give.” (Mt 10,8)

These words of Christ should be the guiding principle when considering the financial aspect of the priestly ministry. It cannot be denied that this financial aspect of a priest’s ministry can pose a very tricky challenge to the men of the cloth.

We know that money and anything that gives us honor and privilege have the tendency, if we are not careful, to corrupt us. It is important that in dealing with them, we have to take care of the purity of our intention which can only be achieved if everything that we do is meant for the glory and love of God and love and concern for everybody else. Otherwise, there’s no other way but for us to fall into some spiritual and moral anomalies.

Given our unquestionable weaknesses and proneness to sin, we have to realize that we really need to have accountability and transparency in dealing with financial matters.

While it’s true that Christ’s ministers are also men who have material necessities, we have to be clear that our ministry should never be used mainly, or worse, purely for some financial or economic gain.

As Christ clearly said, given the completely gratuitous character of our vocation and mission, we need to dedicate ourselves to our ministry also gratuitously, without counting the cost.

This concern can be a very tricky thing to deal with. Priests are no spiritual beings with no need for financial support. We need money also. In a sense, we need to earn, but seeing to it that such financial concern should be pursued with utmost purity of intention.

In this regard, what can be most helpful is to develop a strong conviction that we should not create artificial needs beyond what we truly need to survive, leading a decent life, and to carry out our duties properly.

If done properly, this concern for the financial aspect of the priestly ministry can blend well a lifestyle that can be both personally austere and yet magnificently generous with respect to our dedication to the ministry.

We can truly live the Christian poverty that practices detachment from earthly goods and yet is unafraid and even creative and judiciously enterprising to acquire whatever goods and money are needed to further sincere spiritual and moral help to others.

This is, of course, easier said than done. Thus, there is always that need for regular checking or some kind of auditing to see if indeed the true spirit of Christian poverty is lived while handling money in our priestly ministry.

Some signs that can tell us whether we would already be deviating from the proper spirit of Christian poverty are when we have some items that can be considered already as luxurious or above the common standard of what is proper for priests to fulfill their ministry. These items can be the kind of cars that we use, the places that we go for our needed rest and recreation, etc.

But with respect to items directly related to liturgy and to apostolate, we can be as lavish as we can to show how much we truly care for God and for others. In this area, we should not be sparing or stinting. We have to give as much as we can. And it is for this reason that we can ask also for more donations and support from those who can.