At the end of January, in smaller parishes, there will be in the entryway of a Church orphaned boxes of collection envelopes. These are the leftovers, the disdained, the abandoned boxes parishioners neglect to pick up because, for the most part, they don’t go to Church. As one of our revered deceased priests said, “They’re not like those fanatic Catholics who go to Mass every week.” In fact many of these Catholics do plan on attending Mass, their funeral.
It is for that reason that we don’t throw the boxes away; they’re saved for the person’s eventual demise and placed in the casket or around the urn, as the case may be. It will be a Scrooge moment when the parsimonious parishioner appears before our Lord chained with full boxes of envelopes that never saw the light of day. He or she will watch in wonder as fellow Catholics float up to heaven on clouds of empty collection boxes and God’s grace.
One faithful Church goer this last Christmas picked up two of the orphan boxes for people he knew had not attended Mass in years. He wrapped them in nice bright holiday wrap, including a bow, and gave them as Christmas presents to the rightful owners. Needless to say, the duo were not appreciative of the gifts given in the name of the Child Jesus.
Father dear, are you saying that you can buy your way into heaven? Absolutely not, but I do encourage people to try. We only have the opportunity to be received into the Beatific Vision of God by His grace alone. This grace comes to us through the sacraments, charity, forgiveness, love, among others. But if you think that cash is the road to salvation, have at it; who am I as a pastor who pays heating bills for the Church to deny your mercenary milieu of mercy?
A last observation: the poor will inherit the earth. The people living on a fixed income, struggling to raise a family, working long hours and/or worrying how to pay the bills, these become the most faithful of Christians because they realize their dependence upon a loving God.