Friday, August 5, 2011

CATHOLIC STEWARDSHIP: DISCIPLESHIP


I just got back from a stewardship conference at which I spoke and bragged about my parish. When we landed in Wichita, Kansas on Tuesday afternoon it was only 111 actual degrees! On Wednesday night we had what I thought was a Wizard of Oz experience as a strong thunderstorm moved through.

But back to stewardship. It is about discipleship and calling Catholics to respond to their baptismal and sacramental grace to know, love and serve Jesus Christ in this world by giving back to Him and His Church a portion of what has been given to them by God. Of course everything we have and who we are come from God as a pure gift.

The three "t's" of stewardship are Time, Talent and Treasure.

We respond to God's unconditional love by spending time with Him in prayer, Sunday Mass being the most important and other forms of prayers and devotions to support our Sunday obligation and our spiritual life during the week. That could include adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament, the Holy Rosary, a charismatic prayer meeting, family prayer with spouse and/or children. Praying daily and constantly is what "time" with the Lord means.

We discern what our talents are and strive to develop and use these for the benefit of the Church and our evangelical response to the world in which we live. A gardener might help with the Church's landscape, a plumber with needs in the parish or helping the poor in their homes, those who have good listening and "loving" skills with visiting the sick and home-bound and others who have a heart for the poor helping to serve their needs. The list goes on. Of course our talents should be used to show forth Christ in all that we do at Church, in the home and in the world.

Finally, when people are connected to God and His Church and see their baptismal calling to be Christ's disciples in the world, they also see their need to give a portion of their treasure back to God through the Church (parish and diocese) as well as other charities. Catholic stewardship challenges people to give a tithe of their treasure away.

Catholics having always been good at giving to a "need." Catholic stewardship calls them to acknowledge the "need" to give back to God in a proportionate, systematic and calculated way and to give to God their "first fruits."

Knowing, loving and serving Jesus Christ in this world is what Catholic Stewardship is all about. It's about discipleship. How orthodox is that?

4 comments:

Father Shelton said...

When I engage in a moment of fantasy, I sometimes wish the Church would just say: offer the Works of Mercy on Fridays and during Lent(time), live a faithful and fruitful marriage, encouraging your children to give themselves to God in religious life (talent) and give 10% of your income at the Offertory (treasure). I know that sounds outdated and is not centered on organized parish activities, but I think it could work someday.
At any rate, yours is an excellent description of the modern approach, which is probably more practical these days.

Anonymous said...

Fr Shelton, I like your approach quite a bit as it offers the individual the chance to determine what could be done in a given instance. Organised activities are becoming a bit problematic with time being so precious for people. I think when people see their talents within the context of their surroundings they will find the time and treasure to devote to a 'leverage' point. I don't see prayer as my gift to God, but a gift from God. But in any case a few, well considered, events can inspire people to offer talent and treasure creatively.

My experience with people is to match them with what they like to do and turn them loose. They will usually invent ways to help and improve things. Excessive organisation stifles creativity and instead creates a 'ministry' that is actually an 'empire' for someone.

Our parish is currently 'interviewing' the parishioners to find out what they like and dislike about the parish and ask for recommended changes. It seems, aside from the music, that the large number of 'ministries' is a gripe for people. They seem confused and diluted in their efforts to give time and talent by the shear number of 'ministries' and somewhat intimidated by the old guard that run them.

Just some thoughts on execution.

rcg

Anonymous said...

Our mega liberal parish looks/feels just like a huge corporation. There are so many ministries- so all chiefs and no Indians. I tithe on my small retirement but give to the shelters and foodbanks in the area where I know there's no middle man, and also volunteer at these places. We all have different gifts and levels of 'right-brain'ness. I am terribly grateful that others are much more social than I am and that I can do something else to support that. Tithing is amazing - more should just jump in and do it. I personally have never had any financial trouble while doing this. Rather 90% of my income blessed by God than 100% not...

Frajm said...

In Wichita which approaches Catholic Stewardship from a diocesan perspective, the one thing that is really encouraged is Sunday Mass as the foundation of Catholic Stewardship as well as Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament and the praying of other devotions. 80% of their Catholics attend Mass each Sunday throughout the Diocese and because of tithing, there is no additional charge for Catholic education in either elementary or high school. For me all of this is a "WOW" factor. Some parishes have two and three hundred people at daily Mass! Fr. AJM