Three years ago, on Pentecost Sunday, our parish starting living the message of Stewardship which is to believe that all that we are (personally and as a parish) and all that we have is a gift from God. Motivated by this belief, we choose to live our lives in gratitude to God for all the blessing we have received.
One of the most consequential ways to live in gratitude is to use the gifts you have received. This applies to who you are and what you have.
God has crafted each one of us with unique gifts, talents, and charisms. If a person is in tune with the special creation they are, the path in life is often directed (consciously or not) by this as well. You may be led to be a counselor, a manager, a teacher because you always felt called to it and somehow knew you would be good at it.
The other act of gratitude is giving back a portion of your tangible gifts. The Catholic Church recommends that you return 5% of your earnings to your home church and another 5% to charities of your choice. This can include (but not be limited to) the Diocese’s Annual Catholic Appeal, special collections such as Lenten Appeal, Mission
Sunday, Retirement for Religious. It might also include Catholic programming (Immaculate Heart Radio, EWTN), Dynamic Catholic (Matthew Kelly’s ministry), Birth Choice, or any other charity that is a good cause and touches your heart.
When speaking one-on-one with parishioners, I find that many Catholics have never created the habit of giving. If at this time you do not regularly support the parish, I encourage you to “take baby steps”. The first step is to create the habit. Give something in the collection basket every time you attend Mass.
Once this has been established, take the time to discern what amount you should be giving. Start with 1%. After awhile, look at it again. Add another percent. If you “can’t afford it”, maybe you can forego one latte at Starbucks each week. Or don’t “supersize” an order at McDonalds.
An Old English Proverb says “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”. Dr. Napoleon Hill restated it “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve”. Either way, it’s up to you to believe that it’s the right thing to do and then find a way to make it happen.
I owe you an apology. You’ve read 2/3 of this article with nothing about “Why St. Mary’s”.
What I wanted to say is that, in speaking with new parishioners, I have found that most people “Church Shop”. So, of course, I then have to ask why they finally chose our parish to call Home. The overwhelming answer is that we are welcoming. It starts with the greeters at the door, the act of greeting those around you before Mass, Hospitality after Mass in the Parish Center, and random acts of kindness.
This reminds me that every thing we do makes a difference. A pleasant greeting or a smile can change the course of someone’s day. A grumpy response can do the same.
Each of us is a Parish Ambassador to those we see at Mass and an Ambassador for the Catholic Church as well. Act accordingly.
I want to personally thank everyone who made our Holy Week and Easter celebrations so sacred and beautiful. This begins with the “person in the pew” to the ministers, to the choirs, to the celebrants. Everyone plays a part and every part is important. God Bless you for all you do.