Stewardship Saint for October: Saint Luke

Luke is the author of the third Gospel and was a companion of Saint Paul. According to reliable tradition, he was a Syrian physician from Antioch who wrote his Gospel in Achaea (Greece). Both the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles are attributed to Luke, because he appears to be the person intended by the first-person reference in Acts. The opening of Acts refers to the Gospel and is dedicated to the same person, Theophilus. The basic point of Luke’s New Testament writings is to emphasize the love and compassion of Jesus Christ.

Luke also has an interest in the reality of poverty and reveals a deep concern for the poor, the outcast, and the underprivileged throughout the Gospel.

Stewardship is a major theme in Luke’s Gospel. As a matter of fact, what emerges from Luke’s writings is a sophisticated theology of stewardship that is unique to his Gospel and not addressed so profoundly by other New Testament writers. Luke defines the duty and role of a steward as a unique sort of servant who is entrusted with material possessions by a master, takes charge of them and is required to use them prudently. Luke envisions the steward as not having any possessions or property of his own, but as taking care of his master’s property and wealth until the master summons him to turn in an account of his stewardship. There is a finiteness to stewardship. According to Luke, a steward carries out his responsibilities with alertness, knowing that the master’s return may come at any time. And depending on the quality of his stewardship, there is the anticipation of a reward as a result of his stewardship. Luke believes stewards are not just a chosen or appointed few. Stewardship is the responsibility of all Christian disciples. Luke takes his basic ideas of stewardship and applies them to the motif of material possessions as well, instructing his readers on the right use of wealth and the wrong use of wealth. Finally, Luke’s concept of almsgiving, based on his theology of stewardship, was unique and radical at the time of his writing. Almsgiving was considered an obligation of Christian disciples; imperative inside and outside the community. Luke enjoined his readers to look upon the poor with genuine sympathy and urged those with material resources to remember their identity as stewards, to distribute their wealth to the poor as alms, and to give up ownership of their own material possessions. Luke is the patron saint of physicians, artists and butchers. His feast day is October 18.

Everything We Have is a Gift from God 

This excerpt is fifth in a series based on the forthcoming book by Rev. Joseph D. Creedon, pastor emeritus, Christ the King Parish, Providence, Rhode Island.  

Everything we have is a gift from God. That is a foundational principle in the spirituality of Christian stewardship. It is not easy to embrace the reality that everything we have is a gift from God. Many of us, at a subliminal level, believe that everything we have is a result of our own efforts.

The following story points out how persistent this false belief can be. The setting for the story is the Irish countryside; the focus is an abandoned farmhouse. A stranger buys the dilapidated farmhouse and immediately begins to make improvements. The stone walls are rebuilt, the house gets a new coat of whitewash, the fields are plowed and planted and the thatched roof is repaired. The people in the nearby village watch all this work with curiosity and wonder. One thing they know for certain is that whoever the new owner is he never goes to church. A group of the villagers goes to the parish priest and convince him to discover who the new owner is and to invite him to church. Soon thereafter the parish priest goes out to the newly restored farmhouse and knocks on the door. The door is opened, the priest is greeted and he soon finds himself seated at the kitchen table enjoying a cup of tea and homemade scones. After the obligatory small talk, the priest zeroes in on the purpose of his visit. He says to the new owner, “I love what you and God have done with this place.” The new owner pauses, takes a sip of tea and says, “Father, do you remember what the place looked like when God had it all to Himself?”

The story is both humorous and tragic. Humorous because it invites us to laugh at ourselves. Tragic because it lays bare the fact that we are inclined to take too much credit for our successes and too little blame for our failures. The new owner’s heart is not filled with gratitude because his heart is too full of pride in his own accomplishments. Needless to say, he is not alone in this attitude. If we are to embrace fully the spirituality of stewardship, we must embrace the belief that “everything we have is a gift from God.” We must develop what stewards call “the attitude of gratitude.” Prayerfully consider what will help you realize more fully that everything we have is a gift from God.

We Stewards Are A Testimony to Hope

This is a heart-wrenching time for our Church. We are numbed by the recent reports of past sexual abuses and the failure of some Church leaders to protect the most vulnerable among us. These reports reveal a crisis in our midst and the anger and dismay are natural. But how do we, as Christian stewards, respond? How do we participate in the healing and guiding work of the Holy Spirit? How do we stewards become a testimony to hope?

First, we can re-think how we work within the Church to protect the most vulnerable among us. How might we become better stewards of those entrusted to us? Christian stewards do not stand idly by, helpless or disengaged. They open their hearts to conversion, draw closer to those who suffer and seek ways to respond to injustice even if it is within their own family of faith.

Second, let’s make an honest assessment of our own life in Christ, beginning with the stewardship of our prayer lives. We pray for the victims and their families; for the innocents who continue to suffer; for a new resolve to reform the structures that have abetted wrongdoing; and even for those who have sinned. But let’s be honest about our conversations with God and the way we reveal our own weakness and frailty. It is here that we come to know the power of the Holy Spirit within us. It is here that Christ declares, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).

Third, let us embrace a new awareness of our stewardship of the Church. Our Church is found in our parish at the Eucharistic celebration, at faith formation gatherings, at our dinner table, in giving of our time at the soup kitchen, senior citizens’ home or the religious education of our young people. It is found in the many ways we give witness to the loving presence of Christ in a suffering world and offer hope.

Let’s ask ourselves: “How am I stewarding our Church?”  One of the profoundly prophetic voices of the 20th century, Karl Rahner, insisted: Quite enough terrible and base things have happened in the history of the church … Where would we go if we left the church? Would we then be more faithful to the liberating spirit of Jesus if, egotistical sinners that we are, we distanced ourselves as the “pure” from this poor church?

We can do our part to remove its meanness only if we try to live in the church as Christians and help bear the responsibility of constantly changing it from inside (The Practice of Faith, New York: Crossroad, 1983, p. 15). As we persevere through the current crisis, let us remain mindful that Jesus taught us how not only to overcome evil, but to redeem it. Christian stewards, as active instruments of God’s mercy, understand the redemptive quality of being stewards of the Gospel. It is in fidelity to this stewardship, made manifest in prayer, word and deed, that our testimony of hope emerges to reveal the healing power of Christ’s presence.

Stewardship in the Gospel of Matthew (by Rev. Joe Creedon)

In last month’s reflection, we looked at stewardship parables of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke. For our final Gospel parables we will go to Matthew, chapter 25.

The first is the parable of the three servants (stewards). One is given five talents, one is given two talents and the last servant is given one talent. The one with five talents makes five more, the one with two gains two more but the one who is given one talent does nothing with what was given to him. The two servants who use their talents wisely are praised by the master; the one who is fearful of the gift he has been given is stripped of what he was given. I have always wished there was a fourth servant who tried to use what he was given as gift and failed because if there were a fourth servant I am sure that the master would have said to him, “Here are three more try again.”

This parable is not about success but about remembering our need to give thanks to God for the gifts he has placed in our lives. This parable comes right before Matthew’s beautiful and chilling parable of the Last Judgment where we are reminded that when our life is over God will judge us on how we shared our gifts with others. The time will come when we get to ask, as did the folks in Matthew 25: 31-46: “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty, a stranger or naked, sick or in prison, and did not come to your help?” Then he will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you neglected to do this to the least of these, you neglected to do it to me. And they will go away to eternal punishment and the virtuous to eternal life.”

God has given each and every one of us the gift of faith in Baptism. At Baptism, we are given both a mission and a ministry. The mission: to become disciples of Jesus and stewards of God’s gifts; the ministry is to use our unique gifts and talents in a way that gives glory to God. Stewardship then is a spirituality rooted in the Bible and based on the principle that everything we have is a gift from God.

September: New Beginnings In Our Parish

New Year’s resolutions are famously made on January 1, and infamously broken by the end of that month. But for many stewards, the real time of renewal and recommitment comes as we turn the calendar page into September, and the resolutions have a longer and greater impact. Why? Because good Catholic stewards realize that the parish is often-times the place where people encounter Christ’s presence in their lives, and in the fall, everything kicks into high gear at the parish.

Opportunities abound for growth, for giving, for community. It’s now that we ponder and make our decisions for how we will make a disciple’s response during the coming year through our commitment to the life of our parishes.

Here are a few tips for maximizing a grace-filled year: • Make Mass your top weekend priority, ahead of sports, school activities, or other temptations. • Consider how best to use your talents in the service of the parish. Pray over the ministry which calls to you the most. • Make an appointment to introduce yourself to the pastor or any new clergy if you do not know them, visit with them, or invite them to dinner. • Serve the poor through activities in your parish, in the spirit of St. Vincent de Paul. Our Feed My People Ministry is always in need of more helpers. • Visit our parish Ministry Faire next Sunday. Fun and informative, the Faire is a community builder, and a great way to get involved. • Visit your child’s faith formation class and introduce yourself to the teacher. Let your children know religious education is a priority to you, and be sure to thank in some way the parishioners who give of their time and talent to this ministry. • Review your financial giving. Were you a faithful giver during the summer? Think about signing up for on-line giving so your year-round support helps provide a stable parish income.

Our Ministry Faire will be held next Sunday, September 9 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Parish Center parking lot.  Please stop by to talk with the members of our ministries and then prayerfully discern where your gifts and talents can best be used.

ST. BENEDICT – STEWARDSHIP SAINT FOR JULY

Saint Benedict, the father of Western monasticism, is considered a model of Christian stewardship. He authored the famous Rule of St. Benedict, a handbook of daily Christian living that emphasizes exercising stewardship over prayer, work, and community. Born in central Italy in the town of Nursia around 480, Benedict studied in Rome as a young man. He was so distressed by the chaos and incivility he found there that he left the city and traveled to Subiaco, Italy to become a hermit.

He soon attracted followers who wanted to join him in his simple way of living; imitating his style of prayer and work while respecting the rhythms of the day. Benedict stayed there for 25 years before taking a small group of his monks to Monte Cassino, near Naples, where he wrote the final version of his Rule. The Rule of St. Benedict started a simple, spiritual tradition that exists to this day. It was meant to “…establish a school for the Lord’s service.” It is a set of Christian principles around which the members of the community were to organize their daily lives, focusing on the most important Christian values that would direct their daily actions and help them cultivate habits that would ensure good stewardship of their physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

A hallmark of Christian stewardship is hospitality, making room for others. St. Benedict found this aspect of the Christian life especially important for his communities. In his Rule, St. Benedict writes: “Let all guests who arrive be received like Christ, for he is going to say: ‘I was a stranger and you welcomed me (Mt. 25:35).’ ‘And to all let due honor be shown, especially to those who share our faith’ (Gal. 6:10) and to pilgrims… In welcoming the poor and pilgrims the greatest care and solicitude should be shown, because it is especially in them that Christ is received” (Rule of St. Benedict 53:1-2, 15). The Rule of St. Benedict was meant to stand on the shoulders of the Gospels and many spiritual writers throughout the ages attest to its transforming power to change lives. It teaches the principles of stewardship, shows one how to live in a way that is uniquely countercultural and invites its adherents to enter into a deeper and more joyful relationship with the Lord.

St. Benedict died in approximately 550. He is the patron saint of monks and farm workers. In 1964 Pope Paul VI declared him to be the patron saint of Europe. His feast day is July 11.

Getting to Know the Legion of Mary

Here at St. Mary’s, we have so many active ministries! We are excited to share a bit about each of our ministries in weeks to come. This week, we invite you to get to know the Legion of Mary.

Saint Pope John Paul II referred to the Legion of Mary as a Christian inspiration in the modern world. It is the largest apostolic organization of lay people in the Catholic Church, with well over 2 million active members in most every country of the world. It has been active in the United States since 1931, and has been approved by the last 6 Popes and was endorsed by the Second Vatican Council.

At St. Mary’s, members of the Legion of Mary get together once per week on Wednesdays, either in the morning at 9am in the Juan Diego Room or in the evening at 7pm in the Church Adoration Chapel. We begin with a rosary where we pray for our parish and community. During our meetings, we discuss the needs of our community and how we can meet them. When we can, we attend 8am Wednesday Morning Mass together.

Those of us that are Eucharistic Ministers bring Holy Communion to the sick – the homebound. We participate as Catechists for the children of our parish. We also run the Book Borrow each Thursday, where we hand out books and rosaries to our community during the Farmer’s Market. Additionally, we support the Bereavement Ministry.  Being a part of the Legion of Mary gives us, as Catholics, an opportunity to do something positive for the Church while – at the same time – deepening our spiritual life and strengthening our faith.

If you don’t have the time to commit to being a member of the Legion of Mary, you can become an auxiliary member. Among other things, auxiliary members pray the rosary each day and keep our ministry in their intentions.

To join us, call Letty at 760-594-7006, stop by our Book Borrow on Thursday mornings in front of the church to chat, or come to a Wednesday meeting. We hope to see you there!

Be The Rainbow

For much of the summer, wild fires raged in the Northwest, consuming much of Montana and Washington.

Just last month, the Southeastern portion of the U.S. and the islands were devastated by hurricanes.

Close on the heels of the hurricanes was a massive earthquake in Mexico.

Two weeks ago, a lone shooter gunned down over 50 innocent people at a country music festival in Las Vegas.

As I write this, California is on fire. Populated areas are being threatened, including homes and businesses.

Close to home, the Anaheim Hills Fire is ravaging through Orange County.  Farther north, several counties in Northern California are being consumed by fire.

Even though some of these events took place thousands of miles away, I would guess that you know someone who was personally affected.

My best friend knows a young man that was gunned down in Las Vegas.  She will attend his funeral this weekend.

I had a short trip planned to visit my sister in Santa Rosa this last few days (Oct 11-14).  Her city is being leveled by a fire that is not only minimally confined.   Hotels, restaurants, department stores, expensive homes, mobile homes, a fire station, vineyards…nothing is safe.

Businesses that are not threatened cannot open because their employees are unable to get to work.  Roads are closed, some employees have lost everything, some have been evacuated from their homes and don’t have the essentials to be ready for work.

I have been visiting my sister in Santa Rosa for the last 45 years, and am very familiar with the city and the area.  You might have read that an Applebee’s burned to the ground.  I ate there during my last visit.  It becomes real when it’s more than a headline.

 

SO WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN TO US AS PEOPLE OF FAITH?

God does not stop bad things from happening.  Don’t get mad, don’t blame God.

It is up to each of us to be the light in someone else’s life and the light in our own.  We are called to be the Good Samaritan.

Think of the heroes in Las Vegas who stayed by a stranger’s side while they took their last breath.  They were able to offer nothing by themselves.

I think about the emergency instruction on the airlines.  Put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others.

You are not physically able to hold someone’s hand in Florida, or Mexico, or Las Vegas, or Santa Rosa.  But you are able to spiritually wrap your arms around them.  Pray for those who have lost their homes, everything they own, even their lives.  Even those who are waiting out a tragedy, now knowing the outcome, are mentally tortured.  Pray for them to be strong.  Pray for the heroes—first responders and the common man.

Be the rainbow in the storm.

 

 

 

 

 

Join Our New Bereavement Ministry

The Bereavement Ministry is here to guide families in planning the Vigil, Funeral Mass, Reception and Committal Services upon the death of their loved one. Call Dottie Greene at 760.941.3697 or Kim Mikulka at 760.271.8759 for more information. Individual training will be available.

Feed My People

Thank you for your generosity to our community in need of food.

Thank you especially to our sponsors of the SPARKLETTS WATER. Our call for help was met with much generosity.

This month, the church pantry is in need of jelly, 8 oz. cans of tomato sauce, and dried pasta (of any variety).

Please call Kim at 760.271.8759 to inquire about any details you may need in order to donate.