FOLLOWING JESUS

This article was taken from the ICSC monthly newsletter; it was written by Leisa Anslinger, author and cofounder of Catholic Strengths and Engagement Community (CSEC).

We follow all sorts of people and organizations on social media. Friends. Celebrities. A favorite author, athlete, charity, or business. At times, we may think before following: do we want the additional postings or emails? Typically, following a business or celebrity does not require much of a commitment. We may or may not read every post that comes through on our feed. We might respond, or we may not. Even when we do, our response is often as simple as hitting the “like” button.

Following Jesus is a very different sort of thing. To follow Jesus means to enter into a relationship with him and to exercise good stewardship over that relationship.

When Jesus asks us to follow him, we know that doing so is to have an impact in our lives.   As with any friendship, if our relationship with Jesus is to grow, we will have to spend time with and pay attention to him.

At first, this might mean taking a few moments at the beginning or end of each day for prayer.

We may be more attentive during Mass; we may pause in the midst of our day’s activities to notice the beauty of creation, the blessing of family and friends, the gift of kindness and patience shared among co-workers.

The best of friends also influence each other, for the better. Growing in relationship with Jesus will change us, leading us to think of others as well as ourselves, often putting the needs of others first. We learn to be mindful of those who need to know God’s love through our actions, serving them, sharing forgiveness, mercy, compassion, and faith.

Following Jesus is the work of a lifetime. At every step forward, one is challenged to go further in accepting and loving God’s will. Being a disciple is not just something else to do, alongside many other things suitable for Christians; it is a total way of life and requires continuing conversion (Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response, p. 15).

How will you follow Jesus now and into the future? How will you learn from and invite him to have an impact in your life? How will your stewardship of this relationship impact the way you live?

 

STEWARDING YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS

A Self-Study

Step 1:  How do I spend the time entrusted to me?  Name six to ten things you spent the most time doing regularly this past year.

Step 2: How do I spend the financial resources entrusted to me?  Name six to ten things you probably spent the most money on this past year. 1

Step 3: How high of a priority has Jesus has been in my life this past year (using actual time and money spent as a particular indicator)?

Step 4:  How high of a priority would I like Jesus to be in your life during this coming year.

Step 5:  What are some things I could start, stop or continue that would help me make Jesus a higher priority in my life?

 

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.

STEWARDSHIP 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 HEALTH

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

STEWARDSHIP OF PARISH 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 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 SAINT FOR JANUARY

Ita of Killeedy, Ireland Ita of Killeedy, Ireland, also known as Ida, is one of the two most famous women saints in Ireland, along with Brigid of Kildare. Born near presentday County Waterford, allegedly of a royal family, she was baptized as Deidre.

She is said to have rejected a prestigious marriage for a life as a consecrated woman religious. She moved early in her life to Killeedy (in County Limerick), where she founded a small community of nuns and resided for the remainder of her life, in community with other consecrated women. She dedicated herself to prayer, fasting, a simplicity of life and cultivating a gift for spiritual discernment. Ita was well known for having the gift of being able to guide people in holiness.

She was much sought after as a spiritual director and confessor. During this period of Christianity, the Celtic Church was more advanced than other churches at the time in recognizing qualities of spiritual leadership in women and in encouraging women in this role.

It is thought that Ita may have been abbess of a double monastery of men and women and that she was a confessor to both, giving difficult penances while maintaining a forgiving and compassionate spirit. Confessing one’s sins to a priest had not yet been established as the normal form for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and ordained priests were not yet regarded as the only members of the Church authorized to hear confessions, forgive sins, and impose penances

She began a school for boys, some of whose graduates became saints in their own right, the most famous of whom was Saint Brendan. She was also known as the “foster mother of the saints of Erin.”

The name “Ita” (“thirst for holiness”) was conferred on her because of her saintly qualities. She believed that the three things God most detested were a scowling face, obstinacy in wrong-doing, and too great a confidence in the power of money. Three things she believed God especially loved included a pure heart, living a simple life and great generosity inspired by gratitude for God’s gifts. Ita died sometime around 570 and was buried in the monastery she founded. It was destroyed by Viking invaders in the ninth century. A Romanesque church was later built over its ruins, but that too failed to survive. The site, however, remains a place of pilgrimage today. Ita’s feast day is January 15. Although not on the Roman calendar of saints, her feast is celebrated as an optional memorial in Ireland.

 

 

 

A Stewardship Resolution for the New Year: Living with Compassion

January is traditionally the time for new beginnings, fresh starts. For the Christian steward, the grace of being given another day, or God willing, a whole new year, stirs our deep gratitude. But it also calls us to ask what a “resolution” should really be.

Our first resolve should always be to involve ourselves more intimately in the life of Christ, and how better to do that than by embracing Christ’s call to be compassionate?

After all, Jesus himself instructed us, “Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate” (Luke 6:36). Clearly, we strive now to live and give compassionately, as we generally understand the term. We try to be kind, considerate and understanding individuals. We share with others. But Jesus’ words challenge us to embrace a compassion that is much deeper, much more radical than our general understanding.

The word compassion, at its root, means “to suffer with.” This goes beyond merely writing a check, offering a prayer or sending a note.

Suffering is not a popular notion in our society and we strive to avoid it. But now we hear Christ instructing us to “suffer with” the poor, the vulnerable, the powerless, the neglected, the weak.

How can we possibly choose such a journey, this challenge to be truly present to those who suffer?

All things are possible with God, and it is through a commitment to a life of discipline, discipline in action and discipline in prayer, that we move towards the goal of true compassion.

The Christian steward is committed to the Eucharistic life, and it is through this life which Christ offers us that we gain the courage and the will and even the need to follow him in his own example of compassion.

Compassion is the doorway to a more responsive stewardship and a committed discipleship. Through our deepening sense of compassion in 2018, may we resolve to be the kind of Christian stewards who bring Christ’s presence to a suffering world.

In our own parish, we have the FEED MY PEOPLE MINISTRY.  This ministry was  started when two parishioners saw a need to feed the homeless. A Catholic Church should always be able to feed the people who come to our door daily, weekly, monthly. They also saw a need within our own community of families.  We have succeeded in feeding the homeless on a daily basis and providing monthly grocery bags for any family in need.  Your generous donations of groceries and/or time have made this a viable ministry.

A number of years ago, we began sponsoring receptions for the RCIA and Confirmation students.  We also coordinated the Thanksgiving Day meal and Fr. G’s installation reception and participated in Fr. Mike’s farewell.

We came to the realization that FOOD is a great catalyst for making community. It brings everyone to the same table.   Breaking Bread together is what we do each week as a community when we gather to celebrate the Mass.

We need your help to keep these wonderful programs going.  We need your help to grow the ministry into whatever God is calling us to do.  Can you join our efforts?  Can you see yourself in any of these events?  Do you see where your gifts can be used? Where they are needed? You don’t have to take it all on. We are just asking you to take a piece of it. Bring your fresh ideas to the program.

We need volunteers in all areas. – making sandwiches, handing them out Mondays and Tuesdays, setting up the PC for the school students who bag the family grocery bags, become part of the planning team for any of the receptions we sponsor.  The list goes on and on – shopping for reception staples, making signs, stickers, filling goodie bags, etc. You choose how much you want to be involved. How big a commitment you can or want to make.  We know together, we can answer God’s call: “Simon son of John, do you love me? Feed my sheep.”  (Jn. 21:17)

email: feedmypeople@stmarystars.org  or call Kim at 760.271.8759