Stewardship is A Way of Life!
Good Stewards have an "Attitude of Gratitude!"
& A Section
It is a lifestyle, a life of total accountability and responsibility. It is the acknowledging of God as the Creator and Owner of all. Christian Stewards see themselves as the caretakers of all Gods’ gifts. Gratitude for these many gifts is expressed in prayer, worship, offering and action. Stewardship is a way of life. It is a way of thanking God for all our blessings by returning to God a portion of the many gifts (everything we have, for instance, our time, talent and treasure) that we have been given. It involves the intentional, planned and proportionate giving of all we have.
Finally, stewardship encourages everyone to participate in the task of building the Kingdom of God. When we explain that God has given each of us certain things, that these gifts are our responsibility to care for, and that we are accountable for what we do with these gifts, then there is no doubt that everyone should be involved. Stewardship rejects the notion that we must "have it all" and instead, demonstrates the value of giving in love, in service and in justice.
Stewardship is based on the spiritual principles of the Old Testament and the teachings of Jesus Christ.
"Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, yours are the eyes through which he is go about doing good, yours are the hands with which he is to bless people now…" (St. Teresa of Avila)
The difference is the motivation for giving. It is so easy to put our lives on hold and with it all of our good intentions. "Someday when I have more time" or "When I’ve reached my goals" or "I’ll give my share of time, talent and treasure but not right now." What will we tell those in need of prayer, in need of a kind ear or the hundreds of other acts of stewardship that will go undone and the gifts that the Lord has given us that will go unshared if we all were to think that way? Stewardship acknowledges that God is the source of all of our gifts and talents, and we are the caretakers of these gifts. Effective stewardship education and formation relies on leadership by example.
Stewardship encourages us to make a difference and to become involved.
Where stewardship has been implemented, both givers' and receivers’ lives have been changed. True conversion has taken place in the hearts and minds of many who embrace Stewardship as a way of life.
"Boast not of tomorrow, for you know not what any day may bring forth." (Proverbs 27:1)
Two times a year in the Diocese of Rockville Centre, Stewardship parishes ask people of faith to renew their commitment to living as Stewards of God's gifts. In the Fall, people are asked to prayerfully plan their sharing of financial resources and to "Take-A-Step" in their level of giving to the parish and other charities. In the Spring, folks are asked to pray and reflect and to "Take-A-Step" in the ways gifts of time and talent are shared at home, in the workplace, in the community, and in the parish. We do these things annually because as responsible, faith-filled Catholics:
Good stewards become very conscious of living as disciples of Jesus each moment of each day.
Jesus made it clear in the scriptures that being stewards of all the gifts God has given us (like our time, talent and treasure) is part of the will of God.
"Put your gifts at the service of one another, each in the measure he has received… Thus in all of you God is to be glorified." (1 Peter 4:10, 11)
Our time, our talents, and our material possessions constitute just some of the treasures we have been given by our very generous God. Sharing these gifts involves being with God in prayer and worship, using our gifts to help build God's Kingdom among our family and friends, our workplace, and our communities and parishes. It means becoming ministers of the Gospel in our communities and parishes in new (and perhaps not-so-new) ways!
"Men do not light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket. They set it on a stand where it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, your light must shine before men so that they may see goodness in your acts and give praise to your heavenly father." (Mark 5:14-16)
No. The church teaches that the primary vocation of the laity is to transform the world to Christ. We do this best when we share and use the gifts our generous God has given us in love and justice first at home, then in the workplace, then in our communities and parishes. Certainly, however, the parish is a focal point for coming together as disciples of Jesus. It is in the parish that we join with one another to celebrate our faith, share in the Eucharist, and become empowered to be Eucharist (the Body of Christ) in the world. Our parish is central to our gathering for prayer and worship, celebrating the Sacraments, meeting for and planning together the work of the church, and celebrating the gift of each other. We have an important responsibility to our parish to plan ways we can use and share our gifts there, but we must remember that our sense of stewardship needs to be kept broad and holistic.
The life of a Christian steward models the life of Jesus. It is challenging and even difficult, in many respects, yet intense joy comes to those who take the risk to live as Christian stewards. Women and men who seek to live as stewards learn that.
"All things work for good for those who love God." (Rom. 8: 28)
Throughout the New Testament, Jesus specifically talks about how God wants us to live our lives to help build God's Kingdom. Scripture talks about what we should be doing with the gifts that God has given us. Stewardship is based on Jesus’ challenge to live as God has planned, not on the monetary needs of our parish. Stewardship is based on our need to give out of gratitude to our most generous God, not on the church’s (or any other charity's) need to receive.
There will always be needs of a parish or any other charity or institution. Fund raising efforts are built around institutional or charitable needs (a new roof, a new boiler, renovated buildings, etc.) Good stewards respond to the needs that fund raising efforts address, but they always focus on the primary fact that, as disciples of Jesus who have been gifted by a most generous God, we need to give!
From the "Stewardship and
Development in Catholic Dioceses and Parishes" Resource Manual, page 9:
"Happiness lies more in giving than in receiving." (Acts 20:35)
In terms of financial resources, Stewardship invites parishioners to give a percentage of their income that represents their sacrifice to the parish and other charities. Tithing is the biblical notion of giving one-tenth (10%) of our money. Good stewards reflect upon their current level of giving, and consider "Taking-a-Step" to a higher level of giving, if possible. The ultimate goal may be to achieve the biblical tithe, or it could be less or more, depending upon what a person/family has concluded through prayer and reflection. The important thing is to take the first step of faith by putting God first.
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