Good Stewards Live the Beatitudes

Three weekends in our February liturgical calendar will turn our attention to Jesus’ teachings in the Gospel of Matthew explaining what is to be expected of those who choose to follow him.

This is the familiar Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:1 – 7:29), the most quoted part of the Bible. Jesus’ sermon begins with messages of comfort, the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-12).

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you (falsely) because of me.

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.

The word “Beatitude” refers to a state of deep happiness or joy. But these sayings are paradoxes. They turn our normal expectations upside down. Jesus is bringing us a new law, new expectations on how to live. He is bringing forth the Kingdom of God.

As the United States bishops wrote in their 1992 stewardship pastoral, “Jesus does not waste time proposing lofty but unrealistic ideals; he tells his followers how they are expected to live.    The Beatitudes and the rest of the Sermon on the Mount prescribe the lifestyle of a Christian disciple.”

Each of these “blesseds” is a statement about an important aspect of how we exercise stewardship of our lives. Each of them offers us an ideal of how to live and how we find God living within us.

Learn the Beatitudes, memorize them, make them part of your daily prayer life, and ask the Lord for the wisdom and strength to follow this stewardship way of life, a path that follows in the footsteps of Jesus.

You are blessed!

 

Personal note:  I was wanting to write this week about the Beatitudes, but was uninspired about what to say.  I kept procrastinating and the deadline was breathing down my neck.   I decided to look at the ICSC e-newsletter.  I had already used the January articles and February shouldn’t have arrived until the 1st of the month.  But it had arrived early and the article on this page was waiting for me!  The Holy Spirit, once again,  came through for me.  Pray for guidance, recognize the help, and be grateful. 

 

 

ARE YOU PREPARED?

I was listening to my favorite radio station recently.  It’s IMMACULATE HEART RADIO, AM 1000.  (Also available on an app or on your computer.)  The podcast of this discussion can be found at ihradio.com; Patrick Madrid Show; January 17, Hour 3.

I drive to work every morning with Patrick Madrid, my favorite host.  He was talking about being prepared for death.  The caller had just found out that his 39 year old daughter had been hit and killed by a train.   I can’t even begin to imagine the pain and devastation of losing a child.

Patrick’s advice to the listeners was to be prepared.  There is so much that is out of our control.  Whether it is a direct result of the actions of others, a natural disaster, or a freak accident.  The result is the same.

Have your affairs in order.  If you are an adult, you should have a Trust.  Protect yourself, any assets you may have, and those you love.  Make provisions for the care and custody of your minor children if something should happen to you.  You don’t have to tell others what is specified in your trust, but they should know it exists and how to get access to it if needed.

Even if you don’t have a trust and think you don’t need one, leave some instructions for the people you love.

When I was growing up, my parents told us about “the steel box in the closet”.  It was a fireproof box that contained instructions in the event of their death or incapacitation.  It also contained the key to their safe deposit box.  (Make sure someone you trust is a signer on your box.)   When Daddy died, we went straight for “the box” and had all the instructions about notifying the government of his death, insurance policies, etc.   When Mom died, we had all the final instructions about the estate.  It was a very difficult and emotional time for the family, but there was so much that we didn’t have to worry about.

So, besides taking care of temporal business, there is the spiritual.  Keep your relationship with God in good order.  Do you keep an open line of communication open?  Do you pray daily?

Have you been to the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) recently?  Our parish priests hear confessions on Saturdays beginning at 8 a.m.  If you are uncomfortable going to a priest who might recognize your voice, go to another parish.  JUST GO.  You deserve the graces that come with unburdening your soul and conscience and asking for forgiveness.  Do you lead a life that follows the teachings of the Catholic Church?

And don’t forget about the relationships you have with family, friends, and even acquaintances.  Keep those in order as well.  If you love someone in your life, tell them and show them with your actions. You may not have time to make amends when God is ready to call you home.

I pray that you have a long and fulfilling life, but imagine how much better it will be if you live every day as if it’s your last?

Helping Our Parish Enhance Its Life of Stewardship in the New Year

 

This reflection was written by Leisa Anslinger, a nationally recognized speaker and resource on Stewardship.  While Leisa wrote this article aimed mostly at ministry and team leaders of the parish, I thought it was valuable on a personal level as well. 

 I would also hope that, as you read through these thoughts, you can reflect on what is being offered to you as a parishioner of St. Mary, Star of the Sea.   (Annual Covenant with God to help you on your faith journey, weekly Congregational Stewardship Prayer, weekly reflections on living Stewardship in your everyday life in the bulletin’s Barbie’s Corner, seasonal resource books.)

Our parish has an active Stewardship Team made up of members of our English-speaking and Spanish-speaking communities and we are always cognizant of the cultural differences when creating a new tool.  If you feel that you have something to offer, you are most welcome to visit a Team Meeting.

Turning the page to a new year offers us the opportunity to review time that has passed and to look forward to newness of life and ministry in the year to come.

As individuals, we recognize our many blessings, give thanks for God’s merciful love, and re-commit ourselves to living as disciples and stewards, with resolutions to solidify our commitment to Christ and one another.

In our parish, we can do the same: look back on the year that has just passed while looking toward the one to come. While the reflection itself may lead to enhanced pastoral life, a more focused examination of past and current practice will be great fruit.

I suggest we do so by using the phrase Curt Liesveld coined in directing people’s reflection of and building upon their God-given talents: name it, claim it, aim it!

Name it: In what ways has your parish helped people to understand the meaning and spiritual underpinnings of stewardship as a way of life?  What annual rhythm of stewardship education, lay witnesses, homily connections, and invitation to commitment has been established? How do you help people recognize stewardship as a disciple’s response, by pointing their attention to Christ’s way of self-giving love?

Claim it: List the practices you already have in place. Where is there room for growth? Are there aspects of your stewardship formation that have become stale or have never quite taken hold? What might you learn from effective practices, yours or someone else’s, in order to address these areas of potential growth?

Aim it: Gather your parish advisory group (committee, commission, task group) to reflect and discuss. Invite members to tell their stories of stewardship insights and challenges in living as a disciple and steward.

Together, give thanks to God for what has been, and ask for guidance, insight, blessing and strength as you discern future possibilities; celebrate the year that has been; acknowledge the gaps or areas in need of attention; plan new or enhanced strategies for calling people to grow as good stewards in the year that is just beginning. Our parish will grow in response to God’s grace and blessing and you and all with whom you minister will grow as servant leaders, stewards of the mysteries of God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stewardship in the New Year: Making Commitments to the Lord

 

Stewardship is a commitment of mind and heart to the Lord; a way of life that needs constant renewal and transformation.

This time of year has always been one of looking forward to a new year, reflecting on the changes we need to make in our lives and resolving to follow through on those changes. Perhaps those who seek to make resolutions to be better stewards might find inspiration in one or more of the following examples:

STEWARDSHIP OF FAMILY

Resolve to set aside more time to stay connected with your family. Eat dinner together, schedule regular dates with your spouse, plan family outings, and go to Mass together. Practice patience and forgiveness.

STEWARSHIP OF PRAYER

Resolve to strengthen your relationship with the Lord through prayer. Notice how often you pray and what hinders you from praying. If you are a beginner, commit to short, daily prayer times.

STEWARDSHIP OF MONEY

Resolve to render sacred your annual budget. Reprioritize your financial goals to ensure that the Lord comes first in your spending. Take positive steps to improve your financial health.

STEWARDSHIP OF NEIGHBOR

Resolve to be a person of hospitality and mercy. Make time and space for others who enter your life. Be more aware of those times when a neighbor, co-worker, fellow parishioner or stranger, needs a moment of kindness, a little attention or an affirming gesture on your part.

STEWARDSHIP OF WORK

Resolve to be faithful to your daily, work-related tasks and offer them up to the Lord. Cultivate your skills. Deepen your knowledge. Be mindful of how you are building the Kingdom of God.

STEWARDSHIP OF MIND

Resolve to keep your mind active. Commit to being more informed on the issues of the day. Read your Bible. In this presidential election year in the United States, become even more familiar with Catholic social teaching.

STEWARDSHIP OF POSSESSIONS

Resolve to possess a little more “lightly” this year. Consider ways you can reduce the amount of all that stuff you own. Distinguish between those items that are necessary and those that are considered luxurious and unnecessary.

STEWARDSHIP OF P ARISH FAMILY

Resolve to serve your faith community in some way this year such as at liturgy, in the parish’s outreach or education and formation efforts. Is it time to enhance your generosity to the parish?

STEWARDSHIP OF THE POOR

Resolve to live with more compassion and in solidarity with those less fortunate. Remember the poor in prayer, and commit to helping relieve in some way the plight of those who are impoverished or marginalized.

STEWARDSHIP OF HEALTH

Resolve to get those medical and dental checkups. Adopt healthier eating habits. Add exercise and other physical activity to your daily routine.