Stewardship: Giving Us a Clear Sight

I recently received an updated eyeglass prescription and ordered new glasses. I was anxious to pick them up when they arrived, as my previous prescription had been inadequate for quite some time. With only a few hours with the new glasses, however, I could tell that something was just not right about them. The reading portion of the bifocal seemed off, which meant that I had to bob my head awkwardly to read a book or see the computer screen.

 

I returned to the optometry office the following morning, explained that the glasses were just not working. With two brief adjustments, the technician returned the glasses to me, and suddenly, I could see! All the way home, and throughout the following days,

I prayed many prayers of thanksgiving to God, for the gift of corrected sight and the blessing of a skilled technician. We who have committed ourselves to living and growing as good stewards experience these sorts of moments often.

We see the blessings within and around us every day and we grow in gratitude for these many gifts in our lives.

Like my glasses after the technician had adjusted them, stewardship gives us clear sight. We see the world, and our lives, as they really are — gifts from God, entrusted to us to steward well. The technician who fixed my glasses knew just what was needed in order to bring clarity to my vision.

We are called to act as stewardship leaders, “technicians”, who show others what is needed, so that they, too, may see themselves, their faith, gifts, and resources as blessings from God.

Through the things we say, our interactions with people, the sharing of lay witnesses, and the ways we ask our people to make commitments to Christ and to the Church, we point the way to the vision that God desires for all of his people — that we will see God’s grace in our midst, thank God for our many gifts, and give glory to God as we steward

 

by Leisa Anslinger, author and co-founder of Catholic Strengths and Engagement Community (CSEC)

 

 

 

Don’t Neglect Your “Garden”

The creation story in Genesis speaks about God placing Adam and Eve in a garden.  Like humanity’s first parents, God has entrusted us too with “gardening” duties.  We may not have been given a literal garden to oversee, but we have been given responsibility for the “garden” of our own life.

Our own personal “garden” is composed of three separate plots: our physical bodies, our relationships with others, and the natural world that surrounds us all.  God expects us to tend each of these plots.

The Garden of the Body

Sometimes, we forget that our physical body is a gift given to us by God.  St. Paul reminds us that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.  However, we often abuse or neglect them.  Do we nourish our bodies with nutritious food and a balanced diet?  Do we receive enough sleep, or does sleep deprivation make us less productive at work and in our interactions with others?  Do we get regular check-ups and take any prescribed medications?  Have we unnecessarily exposed our bodies to harmful substances?  Have we exploited the body of another for our own selfish purposes?

The Social Garden

Our relationships also are precious gifts that we fail to nurture as we should.

Do we make it a priority to spend time with our families?  Sometimes, the people we are closest to are the very ones we take for granted.  Do we prioritize our relationship with our spouse over all other commitments except our relationship with God?

Are there friends and family members with whom we should spend more time?  Are there any unresolved issues that are seriously interfering with any of our relationships?  Are there people that we need to pray for, even if they have hurt us?  Cultivating our relationships means being attentive and communicating our love, commitment, and concern.

We must also ask, are we willing to take the risk of reaching out and welcoming newcomers into our social circle?

Matthew 25 reminds us of our obligation to server others, when Jesus says, “For I was hungry and you gave Me food…a stranger and you welcomed Me.”  In today’s world, immigrants and refugees are precisely the strangers we must welcome—and the Bible makes it clear that doing so is indispensable to our faith.

The Ecological Garden

The Bible tells us that God has entrusted the earth and all its creatures to us, so that we might be good caretakers.  St. Francis of Assisi made us particularly aware of God’s mysterious presence in all of creation.

Have we been wasteful or careless in the use of the material goods entrusted to us?  Do we make an effort to recycle or re-use these materials wherever possible?  Do we allow concern for the environment to influence our purchasing decisions/  Are there any steps we could take to reduce the impact that we have on the environment, such as buying re-usable shopping bags, lowering our thermostats, or reducing our use of plastic water bottles?  Do we truly understand that stewardship of the earth and its creatures is a way of honoring God, our Creator, and it will lead to a great respect for our fellow human beings?

All of this can feel like a lot to consider—and even more to actually do.  But with a series of small steps, each taken in succession, we can live out the call of Isaiah 1:17—”Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression, bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.”

 

By Manny Aguilar, Director of the diocesan Office for Stewardship

 

 

Stewardship Saint of the Month

Saint Anthony of Padua is one the most beloved and admired saints in the Church. A Franciscan friar and a Doctor of the Church, he is considered one of the greatest preachers in the history of Christianity.

Anthony was born on the Feast of the Assumption in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1195 to a wealthy and educated family of the Portuguese nobility. He entered the Augustinian religious community at an early age where he devoted himself to the study of sacred scripture and Latin classics.

He felt a call to missionary work, however, and was given permission to join the Franciscan Order when he was 26 years old. Anthony traveled tirelessly to preach what it meant to live according to the Gospel.

He is believed to have made as many as 400 trips to towns in both northern Italy and southern France where he attracted people by the thousands. He was so popular a preacher that he often had to speak in public squares and marketplaces rather than churches.

Anthony knew that preaching was not enough to help people understand how to follow Jesus Christ. He believed he had to give witness to the Gospel by the way he lived his personal life. So, he adopted and maintained a simple lifestyle consistent with what he believed the Gospel was calling him to. He became one of Francis of Assisi’s favorite disciples and closest friend. The last months of Anthony’s life were lived in Padua, Italy, with preaching, hearing confessions, and assisting those in debt. He died there on June 13, 1231 at the age of 36 and was proclaimed a saint less than one year after his death.

So simple, yet compelling and inspiring was Anthony’s teaching of the Catholic faith that he was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1946.

Anthony is best known as the saint to whom one prays to find a lost article. When a novice took his Psalter without permission, Anthony prayed for the book’s return. After the novice was visited by a ghost in a frightening nightmare, he rushed to give the book back to Anthony. Many people do not know, though, that St. Anthony is the patron of other causes. He is the patron saint of Brazil and Portugal, the poor, barren women, harvests and those who travel. His feast day is June 13.

 

Saint Anthony, great wonder-worker, intercede for us that God may grant us our request if it be for the good of our soul.

Saint Anthony, be our patron, our protector, and our advocate in life and in death.

Saint Anthony, attentive to those who invoke thee, grant us the aid of thy powerful intercession for the grace of holy purity, meekness, humility, obedience, the spirit of poverty, and perfect abandonment to the will of God.

Saint Anthony, servant of Mary, obtain for us greater devotion to the blessed Mother of God. 

 

 

Celebrating the Body and Blood of Christ as “Stewards of the Gospel”

This weekend, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, or Corpus Christi, to celebrate the gift of the Eucharist.

Of course, the best way to celebrate it is to live it, to put the Eucharist into action. None of us can be a mere spectator to the Eucharist, for this offering to God of bread and wine is really our offering to him of ourselves, of our lives and of the whole world. Jesus taught us this connectedness when he enjoined us to go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel (see Mark 16:15).

The Eucharist invites us to be “stewards of the gospel;” to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and to love others just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.

This is the meaning behind the language of blood sacrifice of which we will hear proclaimed in the weekend’s readings. Blood is fundamentally life. The commitment to share in a common life, the covenant between God and Israel, was endorsed in blood, lots of it.

Sacrifice was, and is necessary. But how does the celebration of the Eucharist relate concretely to our ordinary day-to-day lives? At one level, the practice of going to Mass affirms our belief that there is something extraordinary in our ordinary, daily lives. We take time to acknowledge to ourselves, our families and our communities that we are engaged in a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. More deeply, however, is that the Eucharist transforms us. It provides a center of our being and a driving force that impels us to go out and “be” Christ to a broken world.

We are nourished and strengthened in a profound way in order to build up the Body of Christ and carry out Jesus’ command to be missionary disciples.

The theme for the 56th annual conference of the International Catholic Stewardship Council, to be held in Nashville, Tennessee, October 28 to 31, is Missionary Disciples: Stewards of the Gospel, in response to the United States bishops’ call to form ourselves, and others, as missionary disciples. This conference will give us a wonderful opportunity to learn more about putting the Eucharist into action and to become “doers” of God’s Word through missionary discipleship, as individual Catholics, and as local Catholic communities of faith. The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ reminds us that we are each called to serve, uniquely equipped with gifts for missionary discipleship, and sent forth to carry the good news of the gospel to all we meet wherever we go. And we are never alone in this journey of faith. Christ is with us in a real and most personal way.