Tag Archives: Catholic Stewardship
Editor’s Note: This is the final in a five-part series by Msgr. Jim Costigan on The Pillars of Parish Stewardship.
In the fifth and final installment in my series on The Pillars of Parish Stewardship — the 2004 document published by the stewardship office of the Diocese of Wichita — we take an in-depth look at the fourth pillar: service.
Throughout Sacred Scripture, there are numerous references to service. There is the parable of the vigilant and faithful servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, “ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks” (Lk 12: 35-40). There is the story of the good Samaritan who was moved with compassion to help the victim of a violent robbery (Lk 10: 25-37). And there are several examples of Christ serving those around Him: feeding the multitudes, healing the sick, and even turning water into wine at a wedding banquet.
Naaman the Syrian and the Samaritan were both lepers, healed by the power of God even though they were foreigners. But their response of gratitude was more important than their nationalities or their disease.
Gratitude is the foundation of stewardship. Our thankfulness to God for our life and our spiritual healing through Christ as well as for all the gifts of time, talent, and treasure we have received should motivate our entire life. Or will we be like the other nine lepers who were healed, and not bother to give thanks? Our response will determine the sort of stewards we are.
Oct. 10, 2010 − Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
What do you suppose the neighbors thought when Naaman returned from his journey to Israel with, of all things, two mule-loads of dirt? For a Syrian general to head to Israel was in itself very odd – but to bring back bags of soil? Of course, Naaman was a leper, and desperate men will do desperate things.
The truth was that Naaman had been a leper, but he was now a grateful ex-leper. After some hesitation, he had followed the instructions of the Israelite prophet Elisha and had bathed in the Jordan River. And, behold, he was now cured, according to the reading from 2 Kings. Naaman was very grateful indeed and thanked Elisha, who refused any gift.
The challenge to us, to say when we’ve finished all our tasks, “We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do,” is not something we welcome. We’re likely to feel resentful that we don’t see an immediate reward.
But we’re created by God and we have our fullest satisfaction when we serving him with all the gifts he as given us. That’s because we are not only creatures marred by sin but also children of God by his gracious adoption. Therefore he has given us a spirit of “power and love and self-control” to guide us in our use of time, talent, and treasure.
Although hardships will come as we follow the way of the Gospel instead of the way of the world, we have the promise that through God’s grace, because of our faith, we shall live.
Oct. 3, 2010 — Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
After all, when we’ve finished a hard day at work, the last thought that’s likely to be in our minds is, “We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do,” with the implication that we shouldn’t expect any reward. We’re not likely to feel that way toward our bosses.
Permanently etched in my memory is a painting done by the famous Italian artist Caravaggio of the “Conversion of St. Paul.” It is one of Caravaggio’s greatest works, telling the story that changed the face of Christianity and the Catholic Church. I have read the account of Paul’s conversion many times in the New Testament and celebrated the feast day of that event on Jan. 25 for many years. The story can be read in Acts 9: 1-31.
St. Paul’s original name was Saul, and he was feared by the early Christians. Before his conversion, Saul’s mission was to eliminate Christianity by persecuting the early Church. How does one change from that to become one of the most important ministers of the gospel of all time? It is conversion at its very best. The man who was Saul became Paul at the Lord’s own choosing. And it is important for us at St. John’s to know this story, and to realize that the potential Christ saw in St. Paul is not unlike the potential that lies within each of us to be Christ’s disciple.
We often get requests from parishes for short prayers to incorporate at the end of the Prayers of the Faithful, and we think this is a good practice. Listed below is an example of a stewardship prayer you could use as-is or adjust as you see fit for your own parish.
Lord, hear our prayer as we seek to be good stewards of the many gifts you have given to us. Give us wisdom to discern Your will for us, strength to meet the challenge, and the grace to remain committed to You. Help us to use our Time, Talent, and Treasure for Your greater honor and glory. In your name we pray. Amen.
Sept. 26, 2010 —Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
What kind of steward are you? The Gospel reading from Luke 16 really challenges us. Oh, we may try to get around it by maintaining that we aren’t stewards, that we’ve never committed ourselves to the practice of stewardship. But, like it or not, you are a steward. You are responsible to God for how you use what he has entrusted to you. You may be a good steward, or a bad steward, or a mediocre steward, but you are a steward. So, what kind of steward are you?
In Jesus’ Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, the Rich Man (“Dives”) suffers after death, while poor Lazarus has consolation. The parable indicates that Dives never harmed Lazarus, but he never did anything to help him either, although Lazarus would gladly have eaten Dives’ table scraps. Dives’ sin was that of omission, not bothering to do the good he would have been able to do for Lazarus.
Good stewards are concerned not only to avoid doing evil with the time, talent, and treasure God has entrusted to them, but also to do good with those gifts. People who keep everything for themselves and fail to share what they have or do good with them are likewise guilty of sins of omission. What kind of steward are you?
I find it interesting to note that in the Gospels, Jesus never gives a straight answer to a question posed to Him. Actually, He did give a straight answer once, when the rich young man asked Him which was the greatest commandment and then followed up with another question, “What more must I do to be saved?”
Evidently, the rich young man did not like the direct answer Jesus gave him to the follow-up question, because the Gospel says that “he went away sad, because he had many possessions” (Mt 19: 22).
There have been, however, careful studies of how people in the U.S, actually use the 10,080 minutes that make up a week. Here are some of the findings:
Sept. 19, 2010 —Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Summary. Jesus tells a parable about a man who mismanages his employer’s property and who alters the books so he’ll be supported after his firing. Jesus points out that worldly people are more successful at dishonest dealings than those whose lives are centered on spiritual concerns. He then goes on to point out that people’s characters are revealed in the way they handle small matters as well as great matters, which leads him to his most important point in this Gospel: No one can have two “masters,” topics of ultimate concern. You have to choose whether God, or yourself, symbolized by your wealth, is going to be the center of your life.
The parable of the Dishonest Steward as found in Luke 16 is a real shocker! How can Jesus be telling a story that praises dishonesty? After all, the dishonest steward seems to land on both feet, even though he had been squandering the master’s property, the very property he was responsible for.
Anne Rice, the famous author of horror novels, rediscovered her Catholic Faith a couple of years ago. Last month, she publicly renounced her Catholic Faith. She said she would not belong to any Church or religion and would no longer even be a Christian, although she would continue to be “spiritual” and believe in Christ. Go figure!
Many modern people today espouse that they are spiritual, but not religious, belonging to no organized religious group. But is that possible? Not if you are Catholic, for Catholic spirituality means accepting the Catholic Faith, which always entails being a “Churchman.”
At our most recent Msgr. McGread Stewardship Conference, Fr. Jim Golka — the pastor of St. Patrick’s Church in North Platte, Neb. — gave a wonderful presentation on how they have successfully developed stewardship at St. Patrick. Here, I would like to share with you my recollection of a small portion of Fr. Golka’s presentation, focusing on his comments regarding the mission of a parish.
Sept. 12, 2010 — Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Summary: The parable of the Prodigal Son illustrates God’s loving and generous character. The father gave to the younger son, who wasted what he had received, but then forgave him and welcomed him home. The father also forgave the older son, who had stayed home but resented his father’s generosity. We are called to imitate the father by sharing what has been given to us and by welcoming all who are seeking God.
The fifteenth chapter of St. Luke contains three parables of Jesus, including the one probably the best known of all, that of the Prodigal Son. We’re all familiar with the story: A man has two sons. The younger asks for his share of the inheritance while his father is still alive. He goes off and spends it all in wild living. Poverty-stricken, he decides to return home, because his father’s servants are better off than he is. His father welcomes him, forgiving him and restoring him to the family. The older brother is resentful of his younger brother’s welcome and refuses to join the family celebration.