If you happen to be a Catholic living in Nigeria, you will know that it is time for harvest. That special time set aside to show appreciation for the blessings of the year. The problem is that this appreciation must take the form of cash, cheque or pledge. And you are broke, so you begin to dread the coming harvest mass and the assorted programme build up towards it. In your penniless, sorry nairaless state, you begin to hold opinions in your head that you can never voice out within church circles. You don’t want people to begin to think you are rebelling just because God has not blessed you financially. So you keep quiet, you are obedient like that. Lemme sha help you with some rules to live by this period because I am a good somebody.
1. Because Sunday is a holy day of obligation, you must attend mass except you are sick or indisposed. Take that 200naira you want to use for offering and split it into four 50naira notes. One note for the regular offering, the others for offering for that your family friend doing family harvest thanksgiving, offering for choosing harvest theme and general thanksgiving. The reason for this is simple, you cannot now be sitting down all through when they call people to come out for these offerings. Abi na you poor pass?
2. On the day for the unveiling harvest banner/theme. Respect your broke self and go and seat at the back of the church. Chances are that a girl of less than ten years old will stand in front of the church to say in a sweet sounding voice;
‘On behalf of my mummy and my daddy and me, I support this year’s harvest banner with the sum of one million naira.’
You know that people will clap frantically for several minutes and you will join them in clapping too, but it is that envious twisted look on your face that says ‘how can this small girl be giving one million just to unveil harvest banner and my account balance is reading 526 naira?’ This is why you must seat at the back. You do not want the officiating Priest or anyone else seating at the altar to see that look plastered on your face. Only God can know about this look.
3. Covenant card, sewing of seed, first fruits card and parish family tree – whatever name they give it in your Parish, comes with a special blessing when Parishioners buy that card. But you cannot partake in this special blessing because the card is sold from #50,000naira upwards. Where you wan from see that kind money? By pressing your phone? Stop reading this and go on your knees now, and ask God to bless you with money to afford that card during next year’s harvest.
4. Never invite any of your friend(s) curious about Catholicism for Sunday mass during this harvest period. Chances are that broom, carrot, bread, cakes etc whichever item the priest decides to bless that Sunday will now cost from #3000naira upwards because it has been blessed during mass. You will have a difficult time explaining to your friend how buying these items at exorbitant prices aid towards raising funds for the church. You look stupid already. Rather have him/her attend weekday mass with you, where it is alot easier to explain tenets of the faith.
5. On the Sunday of the harvest, eat very well before coming for mass. We all know how long and tedious harvest masses can be. You don’t want to go there and faint abi na only you waka come? Pay close attention as the homily will be on giving, even if the gospel that Sunday does not reflect that theme. Don’t ask me how I know. It is just a Nigerian Catholic church something. By paying attention, it is possible you can then understand how giving on that particular Sunday can metamorphose into financial abundance.
Take that your regular 200naira offering and split it into twenty 10naira notes. This is very important – the order for offering is around 20-30 offerings. As a broke someone that you are, around 10 offerings will apply to you. e.g offering for employment, divine upliftment, in need of life partner, indigenes of south/east/west/north etc. After mass comes bazaar, you are tired already, so go home. Except you want to stay to join the clapping committee during auction of items, and haggle for food to eat.
Better still play it safe and attend mass at another parish.
6. Never ever question how the funds raised are disbursed. This is not your business. You already know about 70percent goes into offsetting parish projects for that particular year and the rest goes to the diocese. So even if your church building, children’s hall, parish house etc has been completed. Don’t suggest to the harvest committee that funds garnered from subsequent harvests be used to empower the less fortunate. Is helping the poor not the sole responsibility of St Vincent De Paul’s society? Also do not even dare to suggest innovative ways of raising funds in the church without further stratifying the gap between the rich, broke and poor.
7. Lastly, do not begin to wonder why after 50something years of special blessings associated with harvest, no Nigerian lay faithful has been beatified, canonized or proclaimed saint. This is not in your place to wonder.
N.B – if you are a wealthy/ financially secure Catholic, you have no business adhering to any of the aforementioned rules. Go and invest in your Parish.