Pentecost: A Stewardship Feast to Celebrate

A challenge for the Christian steward is accepting, and
even rejoicing in, the fact that our commitment to faith
is often a counter-cultural one. Perhaps this is nowhere
more striking than in the quick cultural “end” of the
Easter season, and our own belief that Easter is leading us
through May to the great feast of Pentecost on May 28.
We see this discordance in many Christian
celebrations adapted by the popular, commercial
culture. While we are still enjoying the season of
Christmas and looking forward to Epiphany, most
American homes have taken the Christmas tree to the
recycling center and moved on to thoughts of Valentine’s
Day. During the sacrificial early days of Lent, there’s
something jarring – yes, just wrong – about all those
pastel Easter eggs and bunnies appearing in stores. And
all that chocolate!

So, as Christian stewards, we feel no surprise that as
we break our Easter fast and begin our meditation on the
Resurrection, we find that the stores have tucked those
chocolate bunnies away on discount shelves, and we’re
off to the next commercially competitive venture. And
as the great feast of Pentecost beckons us, we realize
that the society around us gives this occasion hardly a
passing nod. Apparently, there’s no money to be made
from Pentecost, the day the Holy Spirit came among the
apostles and imbued in them the courage to be true followers of Christ. Courage,
strength, faith, the Spirit – these are hard to market in the public square, aren’t
they? The willingness to live and ultimately to die as martyrs for Christ, as the
apostles did, these are things that are hard to package in bright paper. They don’t
fit well in the greeting card aisle.

Perhaps during these days of May when we as Catholic stewards continue to
celebrate the season of Easter and look forward to Pentecost, we might examine
our own willingness to step outside the culture in our celebration of great
Christian feast days. Keep the reminders of the Resurrection around you. Let your
family prayer reflect the marvels of the season. Help your children to be aware
of the liturgical calendar. Explain to them the meaning of the changing colors of
the priests’ vestments. Dress up in red for Pentecost Sunday. But most importantly,
educate yourself and your family on how powerful it is to understand and
celebrate the great markers and mysteries of our shared faith experience.

Feast of the Ascension May 20 & 21

In today’s Gospel Jesus charges his followers to “make
disciples of all nations.” What exactly is going on here?
What is this Great Commission anyway? Good stewards
know they are directed to share what they exercise
stewardship over: their life of faith in Christ Jesus. They
know Jesus didn’t direct them to go to church and to
keep quiet about it; or to go out into the neighborhood,
workplace or marketplace and just be nice. Christ’s
Good News is meant to be shared. Many people in our
communities don’t know about Jesus Christ. Does that
bother us? Do we care? Do we realize we are supposed
to do something about it?

Stewardship Saint of the Month: Saint Bede the Venerable

Saint Bede the Venerable, an
English saint more popularly
known as the “Venerable
Bede,” was born in Sunderland,
England in the year 673.
Educated from the age of seven,
he entered the monastery
of Saint Peter in Jarrow,
Northumberland, England, was
ordained a deacon at age 19
and ordained a priest at age 30.
The monastery at Jarrow would
become the center of AngloSaxon learning in England, and
from that monastery Saint Bede,
who would remain there his
entire life, became the greatest
of the Anglo-Saxon scholars.
Saint Bede sought to exercise good stewardship by a balanced life
of prayer, scholarship and manual labor. He rarely traveled, but attended
faithfully to his monastic duties, working in the fields surrounding the
monastery and being partly responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of
the large abbey church.
His communal prayer life was complemented by meditation,
chanting of psalms and writing prayers, prose and poems that reflected
his deep faith.
Saint Bede devoted himself to the study and teaching of Sacred
Scripture, and to writing Biblical commentaries based on the Biblical
commentaries of the Fathers of the Church and to the lives of the saints.
He also taught Latin to those who entered the monastery or came for an
education.
The term “A.D.” (Anno Domini, Latin for “year of the Lord”) for the
years of the Christian era was popularized by Saint Bede. His Ecclesiastical
History of the English People, completed in 731, was widely read
throughout England and Europe and became a classic. His book is still
reprinted and studied.
The Venerable Bede passed away on May 26, 735. In the final weeks
of his life, he completed the translation of the Gospel of John into Old
English (his native tongue) by dictating to the young monk who served as
his scribe. It is said that he passed away chanting the doxology “Glory be
to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.”
Pope Leo XIII named Saint Bede a Doctor of the Church. He is
renowned as the most important historian of the Church in England and is
the patron saint of scholars. His feast day is May 25.

Sixth Sunday of Easter Weekend of May 13 & 14

Philip understood very well Jesus’ words: “If you love me,
you will keep my commandments.” We learn of Philip’s
devotion to prayer, evangelizing and healing in the region
of Samaria; made up of communities that would not be
very receptive to the followers of Jesus. Philip is a model
steward, living his discipleship day by day in the Lord
without being obstructed by feelings of what cost his
actions might entail. Good stewards summon the courage
to proclaim the Lord and to serve Him by ministering to
others. As an Easter people, eager to rejoice in the Lord, it
is important to reflect on how we are living out our own
commitment to discipleship.

Christian Stewards: People of the Resurrection

For those immersed in the secular world, Easter is long over. The pastel
bunnies, the chocolate eggs, the color-splashed jelly beans which
appeared in the marketplace so temptingly just as Christians were
beginning the fasting of Lent, have long been swept from the store
shelves to be replaced in anticipation of the next marketable holiday.
For the Christian steward, how backward this all seems. Yes, we
believe that the Paschal mystery and the life-changing events of Easter
are not over. They are not an end but a triumphal beginning, and they
have altered us in a quite radical way.

The mystery and miracle of Easter challenge us to live as different
people, as people of the Resurrection. What does this mean? For those
new Catholics who participated in the Rite of Christian Initiation of
Adults (RCIA), a period of mystagogy helps to understand this mystery.
Indeed, this ancient Greek word actually means “to lead through the
mysteries.” During mystagogia, many parishes introduce their new
members to service in a quite practical way. Here are the ministries of the parish; here are the charities we
support; here are the needs of our
community and our congregation.
How do you choose to live out your
faith in the Resurrection in a quite
tangible and real way? How do your
gifts fit into our needs? Essentially,
however, this is a question that
the Easter season calls forth in all
Christian stewards not just our
newest members.

We have lived through Lent and
the Paschal mysteries, all the while
trying to deepen a relationship with
the person of Christ. It’s as simple,
yet as amazing and complex as that.
The deeper the relationship grows,
the more we become rooted in it,
the more this relationship with Christ
comes to dominate our lives. We
no longer compartmentalize Jesus,
we hold him at our center. And the
mysteries lead us to the fundamental
question at the heart of all Christian
stewardship, the question that Easter
compels us to ask: How do I steward
my resources – my time, my money,
my abilities and gifts, my very life
– so that they are in service to the
Kingdom of God? It’s not a part-time
question. It’s not a seasonal question
that’s swept off the shelf periodically.
It’s the basic question which the
Easter season demands of us: Jesus,
how do you want me to serve you?

Fifth Sunday of Easter Weekend of May 6 & 7

In the reading from the Acts of the Apostles we see how
the first community of Christians gathered together to
discern and resolve how to care for each others’ needs.
As good stewards of the sisters and brothers who gathered
around the Eucharistic table, the community of faith
selected those among them who were to ensure that
no one was neglected. How do we resolve to serve the
needs of our parish family? How do we ensure that those
who might be perceived to be the least of our brothers
and sisters are not left alone and neglected?