Several of the parishioners at my church are members of this order. And there is always a little ceremony to induct them; not that I mind though the ceremony sometimes seems a bit much and is no longer than that for someone who is being tonsured a taper bearer or reader. Most of the people I know who are in the order do so much more for their church than merely write checks.
I'm wishing I hadn't responded earlier this morning, as I've had time to reflect on this since then.
It's not up to me to judge the motives of those who give large amounts of money. And really, is it so bad that they are recognized for that ministry? This past Sunday in the Archdiocese it was "Choir and Chanters Sunday" (I think that's how they worded it). Some of us are recognized for that sort of leadership. Not all can participate that way any more than all can participate by contributing large sums of money. We also recognize Sunday School teachers, etc., so what's the difference? Do chanters chant to receive glory? Maybe some do. God knows.
Romans 12 (NKJV): 3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality
; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. (emphasis mine
On a little bit of a tangent: A year ago, I was unemployed and I could not contribute to the church as much as I wanted to. But in order to be considered a member of the parish and to vote in elections, I had to be a pledging member. I was contacted by my priest asking why I had not pledged anything though he knew well of my situation. I then told him why it is we consider only those who pledge money to be a member of the parish. A lot of the people who pledge lots of money are never there for anything or only come sporadically. They don't volunteer but they can contribute $ which is great, but that's it. I asked him why my services for the church as a chanter (sometimes the only chanter), bookstore manager, occasional chorister, sexton, etc. by themselves are not sufficient reasons for me to be considered a full member of the parish. Why is the contribution of my time not as prized as whatever pittance I cannot contribute at this time? He admitted that I was right; that the time we give, sometimes that is all we can give, is overlooked at the expense of money. In the end, things worked out but the thing is that as long as our parish constitution says that pledging money makes you a member, we are going to be a parish that measures success and failure by dollar signs.
I understand entirely what you're saying here. At the moment, I worship in a small mission parish. We don't have a formal requirement for who actually belongs. When the time comes to set something in print, I will fight tooth and nail against requiring any monetary amount for membership. Regular attendance and participation should determine who belongs and who doesn't.