There is Joy in Giving! This week we kick off our annual stewardship initiative. As in past years, we are asking parish members to prayerfully reflect on their annual offertory gifts and to Take the Next Step in our stewardship journey. This is an important opportunity for us all to support our parish ministries and mission. We are requesting each one of us to take an active role in joyfully participating in the growth of our parish and for each parishioner to practice the principle of stewardship giving back a portion of our blessings to God.

What is Stewardship?

 “As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Pt 4:10)

The US Bishop’s Pastoral Letter on Stewardship puts it this way:

“What identifies a steward? Safeguarding material and human resources and using them responsibly are one answer; so is generous giving of time, talent, and treasure.  But being a Christian steward means more. As Christian stewards, we receive God’s gifts gratefully, cultivate them responsibly, share them lovingly in justice with others, and return them with an increase to the Lord.”

Stewardship is not a once-a-year event – it is a way of life. The Christian steward is responsible for “utilizing and managing all resources God provides for the glory of God and the betterment of His creation.”[1]  In other words, it is an all-encompassing way of living our life that involves not only the care of ourselves but the care of others. This is usually summed up as giving our “time, talent, and treasure.”

The Gift of Time

“The disciples are not only to learn humility and fraternal love, they must actually participate in the mystery” Romano Guardini, “The Lord,” Henry Regnery Co., 1954

We live in a complex society: jobs, family members, and commitments, all take a large amount of time. Many of us are overwhelmed with responsibilities. Sometimes it can be quite a challenge to meet our expectations. How does the Lord fit into all this? Being a disciple of Christ means that we live our lives the way Jesus would want our lives to be lived, that being a Christian is not an afterthought but a way of using our time in the best way possible. Sometimes it’s only a quick prayer to the Lord to give us the grace and patience to get through the day. Sometimes it’s more of a commitment through service to our Lord in our parish or in our community. We have time: it’s how we use it that reflects our commitment to Christian discipleship.

The Gift of Talent

“As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” 1 Pet. 4:10

Sometimes a talent only involves a smile to brighten someone’s day, other times it means using the abilities God has given us to make lives better for others. No one has the same gifts, and using our God-given talents for the betterment of others is one way of living our call to discipleship. Whether it’s through the gift of music, organizational skills, teaching, caring, or serving meals, each one of us can reflect the grace of God by utilizing our talents. This is especially true in using our talents in our parish. Giving Communion to the homebound, for example, enriches the lives of those who receive and strengthens our relationship with the Lord. It is the way of living a Christian life.

The Gift of Treasure

“Where your treasure is, there also lies your heart.” Matthew 6:21.

While the Bible has about 500 verses on prayer and fewer than 500 verses on faith, there are over 2,300 biblical verses that deal with money and possessions. [2] Why is that? Returning a portion of our income to the Lord is the means by which our good service happens. The way we use our financial gifts is a measure of our discipleship. God expects us to share our resources, not to gain more possessions that cannot give us true happiness. We are expected to incorporate sacrificial giving for the betterment of others. Sacrificial giving is acknowledging Jesus’ ownership of all that we have. It means that our financial gifts are meaningful, giving back to the Lord what he has given to us. It is a way of showing our gratitude to the Lord for all our blessings.

Stewardship Prayer

Generous and loving God, You call us to be disciples of your Son Jesus
and good stewards of your many gifts.
Open our minds and hearts to a greater awareness
and deeper appreciation of your countless blessings.
Transform us through the power of your Spirit
to nurture a stewardship way of life
marked by faith-filled prayer, service to our neighbor,
and generous sharing.
Teach us to be faithful servants of your gifts.
With Mary’s help, may we return ten-fold the gifts entrusted to us.
We pray through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

                                                                                    -Bishop Robert Morneau