When Bills Don’t Take a Holiday

During the Summer months, we, like many people, enjoy time off to set sail from the Queen City to bake, ingest a hearty portion of salt water, and get some sand between our toes. With such a rigorous schedule, we also enjoy starting the day in Gulf Shores, Alabama at Our Lady of the Gulf, where one can receive Jesus in the Sacrament, as well as a first-hand double-dose of both Southern Catholic and beach parish culture (okay, Matt and I also will most likely be continuing, when we set off this week, our highly academic debate on whether the parish priest more resembles off-season Santa or Uncle Jesse from The Dukes of Hazzard – and this is not to be construed as offensive, as both figures were quite formative for us during youth).

Unfortunately, many Christians, including myself, have been guilty of forgetting about the parish bills that will be incurred while we’re away in the summer (if you don’t believe me, look for the section in you parish’s bulletin which records weekly giving, and check out how drastically it can fluctuate from week to week), such as those affiliated with electricity and water, which tend to go under our radar, as we’re so used to having them. Thankfully, while we are enjoying a break from routine, as well as time well-spent with family, our family’s personal bills will be paid online and automatically, so we can enjoy the amenities most Westerners come to expect in their homes, such as electricity and water. Also thankfully, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati has an excellent system in place whereby, in our current culture of the electronic fund transfer, we can truly use the same means we utilize to pay the utilities to give of our resources to our parish, or even allocate funds to special services provided by the Diocese.

See, the summer is the perfect time to set up electronic tithing, either for a single transfer, or automatically every week for a given amount, to help keep things rolling. Just visit catholicappeal.net to set up your giving. For us, it has helped Matt and I to be more consistent in our giving, it remembers to give even when we can’t find the checkbook, it is environmentally friendly in its paperlessness, and it enables our household to truly put our stewardship responsibilities ahead of our mortgage or cell phone bill. In addition, the system automatically sends tax deduction info to my email account, which is great for anyone who, like me, is horrible at locating all sorts of receipts come April.

While I make no demand for the passing of the basket to discontinue, as I very much see the value in “real money” (aka that which one can see) and the teachable moments inherent in handing a kid a dollar for the basket, or, better yet, helping them scrounge their own coins together each week, the Archdiocese should be applauded for using available technology to stay abreast of the current money habits of Cincinnati Catholics, and hopefully, the savvy, or the perennially forgetful (which I believe is my category) who already find it useful to pay their bills in this fashion, will take notice.

-Colleen Swaim

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