Last Chance to Register for the Msgr. McGread Stewardship Conference

McGread-Conference-April-2015With less than a month to go before the next Msgr. Thomas McGread Stewardship Conference, now is your final chance to register for this one-of-a-kind event, where you will learn from expert pastors and lay leaders how you can transform your parish by developing stewardship as a way of life.

Now in its 12th year, the McGread Conference has inspired and educated thousands of priests, religious, and lay Catholics, by sharing the remarkable stories of how developing the spirituality of stewardship has changed the lives of countless individuals and their parishes.

The conference is named for the late Msgr. Thomas McGread, who passed away in April 2013. Msgr. McGread has been called the “Father of Stewardship,” and he was instrumental in the drafting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ pastoral letter, Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response. Conference attendees will hear the incredible story of how Msgr. McGread’s stewardship vision transformed his parish — St. Francis of Assisi in Wichita — and how his stewardship model has impacted other parishes across the country.

The conference is scheduled during the middle of the week so that all participants can arrive Tuesday evening and depart Thursday afternoon. It will be held at the Diocese of Wichita’s Spiritual Life Center in Wichita, Kansas.

Click here to download the conference brochure as a PDF.

Click here to find out more about the McGread Conference. You can also register for the conference at this link.

You may register online at the link above, or if you have any questions or would like more information, contact Shari Navarre at 888-822-1847, ext. 3702, or by e-mail at shari@catholicsteward.com.

Stewardship Reflection on Lectionary Readings: April 12, 2015

April 12, 2015 – Second Sunday of Easter/Divine Mercy Sunday
Acts 4: 32-35; Ps 118: 2-4, 13-15, 22-24; 1 Jn 5: 1-6; Jn 20: 19-31

divine-mercy-2Last week on Easter Sunday, we heard in the Gospel of John that when he (John) saw the tomb with Jesus arisen, “He saw and believed.” This week, among the splendid scriptural passages, we learn of Thomas, called Didymus, who questioned Jesus’ Resurrection, but when confronted with the living and arisen Lord, declares, “My Lord and my God.” Throughout our readings for this Second Sunday of Easter we hear witness and we receive firsthand accounts of the arisen Savior.

The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles reports on the early Church and its dedicated members. However, we must also realize that the early Church was fostered and nurtured by the Apostles and those among Jesus’ followers who witnessed His amazing Resurrection and actually saw Him and spent time with Him. The Acts of the Apostles is the New Testament book which follows directly after the four Gospels. Scholars and historians agree that it was written by St. Luke, the same Luke who wrote the Gospel of Luke. Acts begins with Jesus’ Ascension and then recounts much of what occurred after that.

Although there are many statements of note in this first reading, one which ties in so well with the other readings for today, including the Gospel, is “With great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all.” Putting this statement in comparison to the rest of the first reading we learn that the Apostles had a sense of what was important: first was God as manifested through Jesus; second were people; and third were temporal or material things. This is the same order that stewardship emphasizes: first and foremost we must have God at the center of our lives; second we must reach out to, minister to, and serve others; the last thing in our sense of what is important should be our possessions.

The second reading, drawn from the first letter of St. John the Apostle, is a testament to the reality of Jesus and the authenticity and certainty of His Resurrection. St. John speaks of being “born of God.” Theologians have examined this statement in great detail. It relates directly to a total trust and faith in the Lord. John speaks often of “love” but he wants us to know that loving others is not enough. As referenced in our reflection about the first reading, we are called to place our total trust in God. That trust is what allows us to live lives of stewardship, to take the risks associated with that because we know that God is with us and God watches over us. The Greek word for faith meant much more than just belief; it also meant trust, confidence in, commitment to, and much more. That is why many include the word “total” before the word “stewardship.” To be total stewards we must be completely reliant upon the Lord.

This idea of total trust is really addressed carefully in the Gospel passage from St. John, which describes Christ’s appearance to the Apostles, but a manifestation not witnessed by St. Thomas. Because Thomas questions it, he has been called “doubting Thomas” for centuries. Yet, many, if not all, of us have the same questions, the same doubts. The point of this Gospel, and of all our readings for this Second Sunday of Easter, is that we are called to believe even though we may not have seen. Even Thomas questions the accuracy of those who tell him they saw Jesus; we, like Thomas, are called to believe and respond to the reports represented in today’s readings.

In a sense this passage from John is the climax of his entire Gospel. Jesus has overcome everything, and John reports on his final days and the time after it. Jesus’ final victory is over disbelief. That may be our greatest challenge. We accept the Lord’s call to us, but do we respond with the fervent belief we need? St. John tells us that he has not included everything in his Gospel, but we are expected to believe based upon what he has provided us. “Blessed are those who have not seen, and have believed.”

Stewardship Bulletin Reflection: April 12, 2015

April 12, 2015 – Second Sunday of Easter/Divine Mercy Sunday
Acts 4: 32-35; Ps 118: 2-4, 13-15, 22-24; 1 Jn 5: 1-6; Jn 20: 19-31

divine-mercy-1“The community of believers was of one heart and one mind.” For those who practice stewardship as a way of life every passage from Holy Scripture contains a stewardship message. However, today’s readings are particularly special in that regard. The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles speaks to the sense of unity and teamwork of the early Church. Our own parishes may reflect this idea that we are one, and that we have a common purpose.

One of the great misconceptions of this particular scriptural passage is that it reflects what we might term a “sense of Communism.” However, as we as Catholics and stewards reflect upon this, we must understand a basic difference. Communism says “What you think is yours is really mine.” Our faith, our community, and our good stewards say, “What may seem to be mine is really yours.”

“No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own.” This is the stewardship understanding that, first and foremost, everything comes from, is gifted by, and is possessed by God, not by us. In addition, stewards understand that all their gifts are to be shared with others. The key to this entire passage is, nonetheless, that the early Christians regarded people as more important than things. As difficult as this may be for us, that is to what we are called, as well.

Stewardship Reflection on Lectionary Readings: April 5, 2015

April 5, 2015 – The Resurrection of the Lord/The Mass of Easter Day
Acts 10: 34A, 37-43; Ps 118: 1-2, 16-17, 22-23; Col 3: 1-4; Jn 20: 1-9

Easter Resurrection icon“He saw and believed.” With those few words St. John, in his Gospel on this glorious and joyful Easter Sunday, summed up the significance of Christ’s Resurrection. It is essential that we comprehend what is really written. In the original Greek John wrote that “He saw” using the Greek word eido for the word “saw.” Eido means much more than to just see; it means to fully understand, to recognize the significance of something. John saw; John knew; and John believed.

We will see the term “empty tomb” many times over on Easter. However, it is well for us to realize that Jesus’ followers did not proclaim “The tomb is empty.” They announced “Jesus is risen.” The Resurrection is the reason we celebrate today. That is the reason we exclaim “Alleluia!” Knowledgeable Catholics know that we do not include “Alleluia” in our liturgies during Lent. We wait for this day, Holy Easter, to shout this word of praise, which means “Praise God.” In fact throughout our Easter season we will assert “Alleluia” many times. “Alleluia” is one of the ultimate things we can say in thanksgiving, joy, and triumph. That one word sums up our feelings on this wonderful and holy day.

All of our readings on Easter Sunday point to Resurrection and hope. The first reading comes from the Acts of the Apostles. St. Peter may have denied Christ but he was also the one identified by the Lord to found the Church. Peter becomes the voice, the witness, to that hope found in Christ. “He (Jesus) commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God.” Peter declared the truth to all, Gentiles and Jews. The attitude of Jews toward Gentiles at that time was dramatic. For example, if a Jew married a Gentile, the Jewish family would have a funeral for the lost Jew. A Jew began each day with a prayer thanking God that he or she was not a Gentile. Thus, Peter is pointing out to us the significance of what occurred on Easter — Jesus arose to save us all.

St. Paul, in the second reading from his letter to the Colossians, provides us with our motivation and reasoning for hope on this Easter Sunday: “Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.” As much as we may be burdened and cognizant of our life on earth, Easter gives us that freedom, that release to look beyond our earthly existence. Our hope is in the Lord because of the ultimate sacrifice He made for us. Through Him we are saved and through Him we rejoice. It is not just that we will see Christ’s glory. We will share it.

The Gospel is a firsthand account from St. John of the discovery of Christ’s Resurrection. Women discover that the tomb appears to be empty and Mary of Magdala rushes to report the fact to the Apostles. Peter and John literally run to the tomb to investigate. John, in an act of humility, only says that Peter “and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.” Of course, John is not so humble that he fails to report that he ran faster than Peter and arrived there first. It is difficult to imagine the emotions which were rushing through them both though. As is usually the case, there are some subtleties within this Gospel which may be overlooked. It is important that it was women who discovered that Christ was no longer in the tomb. In those days the testimony of women was less regarded than that of men. If someone were going to fabricate a story, they would not have used women as the first witnesses.

It is also of consequence to note that the tomb was heavily guarded. There is no question that Christ leaving the tomb was supernatural in effect. Jesus arose and through that Resurrection we can all be saved. Truly our hope is in the Lord.

Stewardship Bulletin Reflection: April 5, 2015

April 5, 2015 – The Resurrection of the Lord/The Mass of Easter Day
Acts 10: 34A, 37-43; Ps 118: 1-2, 16-17, 22-23; Col 3: 1-4; Jn 20: 1-9

ressurrection.icon_.english“This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad.” Of all days during our Church year, this is the holiest. It is on this day that we celebrate Christ’s Resurrection and our salvation. As Catholics we are all called to holiness, and today is the day on which we can respond to that call most enthusiastically.

Jesus is with us today, and He is with us through the Eucharist every time we go to Mass. As we approach to receive Communion today, and every time we do so, we need to search our hearts. We must remember the suffering Jesus endured for us. He shed His blood so our souls could be spared. We each need to thank the Lord for giving us life and for providing us with the Holy Spirit to comfort and guide us.

Together we cry out “Alleluia!” St. Peter, in the opening of his first letter, put it this way: “Although you have not seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy. (1 Peter 1:8) Christ is risen! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Stewardship Reflection on Lectionary Readings: March 29, 2015

March 29, 2015 – Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion
Is 50: 4-7; Ps 22: 8-9, 17-20, 23-24; Phil 2: 6-11; Mk 14:1 – 15:47

palm-sunday-usa“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” With those words, as reported in the Gospel from Mark, the reading of the Lord’s Passion, “Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.” We, as Catholics, stand every Palm Sunday at the reading of the Passion of Christ. We walk with the Lord; we even cry out “Crucify him; crucify him.” Our Lenten journey is culminating and we are reminded of the sacrifice Jesus made for us.

Although we could reflect on many things on this Palm Sunday, the fact remains that this Passion is the climax of the entire history of Revelation and Redemption. With our hearing of this again, we are reminded of the two important features of the Passion — our sins and God’s love for us. There is a reason that the Church has us join in the chorus of voices saying “Crucify him. Crucify him.” Just like the multitudes in Jerusalem we may hail the Lord with palms at one moment and condemn Him in the next, because we are sinners.

One of Jesus’ closest associates betrays Him and the one in whom He placed so much trust — St. Peter — denies Him. That may be the reality of our own lives. The characters who run through Christ’s Passion remind us of much of what we may do. Even Pilate, who comes across as perhaps having some understanding, is very much like we are. Pilate is a realist. He just wants to keep the peace; he understands what the real world is like.

Do we understand what the real world is like? Do we tolerate much, even within ourselves, just because that is easier? As much as we may conclude that the Passion was all a part of God’s plan, the one fact we must face and accept is that God granted all, including us, free will. In a sense that is a blessing while being a curse.

What we do with our lives is our choice. Whether we pursue lives of selfishness or lives of stewardship is a matter of our decisions. On this Palm Sunday, this reminder of the significance of Holy Week and Easter, we have a final opportunity to pledge and commit ourselves to living in a way that God calls us to live.

Our Holy Father Francis provided us with a message for Lent just prior to Ash Wednesday. What he said at that time is still applicable as we approach the end of the Lenten Season. Pope Francis reminded us that “God does not ask of us anything that He Himself has not first given us. ‘We love because he first has loved us’.” (1 John 4:19) Pope Francis goes on to speak of a world filled with indifference, pointing out that it is a problem which we as Christians and Catholics need to confront.

Although we may be indifferent, God is not indifferent to us. He loved us so much that He gave His Son for our salvation. God opens the gates between heaven and earth for us; Pope Francis also prompted us that it is the Church which holds this gate open for us. As we begin the holiest week of our year, now is the best time to embrace those gifts and to vow to return them with gratitude to the Lord.

Stewardship Bulletin Reflection: March 29, 2015

March 29, 2015 – Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion
Is 50: 4-7; Ps 22: 8-9, 17-20, 23-24; Phil 2: 6-11; Mk 14:1 – 15:47

Palm_SundayThe end of our Lenten journey is imminent. Have we altered our lives? Have we rededicated ourselves? Have we renewed our covenant with the Lord? These are major conversions and changes, and perhaps the best question we can ask ourselves is quite simply, “Is anything different?”

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “the real aim of Lent is, above all else, to prepare us for the celebration of the death and Resurrection of Christ… the better the preparation the more effective the celebration will be.” We have been called to a conversion of heart.

In the few days we have remaining we must strive for some form of purification, by some effort to reject sin and selfishness. As good stewards we need to identify something in our lives, someone in our lives perhaps, with which or with whom we must reconcile. First and foremost we must reconcile with God; if we fix that relationship, everything else naturally follows.

We have been given gifts through the Holy Spirit. This is a vital time for us to use those gifts to build the Kingdom of God. St. David of Crete said this of Palm Sunday: “Let us run to accompany the Lord as He hastens toward His Passion, not by covering His path with palms, but by being humble and by trying to live as He would wish.”

Stewardship Reflection on Lectionary Readings: March 22, 2015

March 22, 2015 – Fifth Sunday of Lent
Jer 31: 31-34; Ps 51: 3-4, 12-15; Heb 5: 7-9; Jn 12: 20-33

FAQEaster is two weeks from this Fifth Sunday of Lent. Our readings for today reflect that, and our own life efforts need to reflect that, as well. Whether we have fully utilized this Lenten journey or whether we have let it pass us by, it is not too late to make this a time which is memorable in our lives, and significant in our faith journeys.

Our first reading is from the Book of Jeremiah. Historically, Jeremiah was writing during the final years of Israel before their defeat by the Babylonians, and then the beginning years of the exile to Babylon. In today’s reading Jeremiah speaks of the covenant with God, the covenant between God and His people. It is important for us to realize that this is a two way covenant — God’s promise to us, but also our willingness to love God and to serve Him. Throughout Lent we have been called to examine our own covenant with the Lord, our own faith and our readiness to serve God and others. Jeremiah speaks of a “new covenant.” It is time for us to embrace and work at our own new covenant with God.

In the second reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Hebrews Paul refers to obeying and obedience. This can be a challenge for us in our own lives. It is more than just understanding what obedience is, how to obey; the secret is to learn what is involved in living lives of obedience. Jesus was God; yet He obeyed. It was His obedience to subjecting Himself to death on the Cross which provides us with our salvation. That is an essential part of our Lenten journeys — to come to grips with the Lord’s love for us, and to find ways to respond in gratitude to that love. All who “obey the Lord” can find the way to eternal salvation. Although Lent draws to a close in less than two weeks, we can make our new covenant with God and pledge our obedience to Him.

John’s Gospel speaks of Greeks who seek Jesus. We must remember that the Greeks were Gentiles. Previously, Jesus has told His followers and others that the time was not right. Yet, here, when Gentiles approach Him, He declares, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” We have been pilgrims journeying toward Easter over the past few weeks. Jesus points out to us that we are not just pilgrims at this time (Lent), but our entire lives are pilgrimages toward salvation and eternal life. He shows us the way. He calls us to conversion, “…unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat.” This new birth and new life comes to fruition for us at Easter. In the meantime, however, in these final days of Lent, we must renew and rededicate ourselves to the faith and lives to which we are called by our Lord. Just as Easter is a new beginning, so is every single day. St. Francis de Sales said, “It is right that you should begin again every day. There is no better way to complete the spiritual life than to be ever beginning it over again.”

Stewardship Bulletin Reflection: March 22, 2015

March 22, 2015 – Fifth Sunday of Lent
Jer 31: 31-34; Ps 51: 3-4, 12-15; Heb 5: 7-9; Jn 12: 20-33

Unless grain of wheat 01“Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies it produces much fruit.” (Jn 12:24-25) We understand the meaning of this statement in that the grain of wheat must be buried and in a sense die if it is to be reborn and to grow and produce wheat.

That is similar to what we should have been trying to accomplish during this holy Lenten season. The term “born again” is a popular phrase in many churches, but this rebirth is also what we strive for in our Catholic Church. We are reborn in multiple ways — through Baptism, through our ongoing conversion, and through our daily efforts to be good stewards.

Lent is, of course, the ideal time for us to seek this rebirth. Our efforts through the past several weeks should have been to bury our old self and to be reborn with a deeper sense of faith and trust in God. Easter is but two weeks away and Lent officially ends on Holy Thursday. However, it is not too late to rededicate ourselves to God-centered lives. St. John Eudes put it this way, “Let us therefore give ourselves to God with great desire to begin to live thus, and beg Him to destroy in us the life of the world of sin, and to establish His life within us.”

Eric McArdle: Spreading the Stewardship Message in Hawaii

eric_colorIn early February, Catholic Stewardship Consultants teamed up with the Diocese of Honolulu to host a two-day conference on successful parish stewardship development. Hundreds of priests, deacons, and parish leaders attended, and the conference was heralded as a rousing success.

The main presenters included Deacon Don McArdle, the CEO of our organization; Msgr. Daniel Mueggenborg from the Diocese of Tulsa; Fr. Michael Troha from the Diocese of Cleveland, and Bishop Larry Silva from the Diocese of Honolulu. Msgr. John Mbinda, the pastor of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist in Mililani, Hawaii, also gave a presentation on his parish’s extremely successful stewardship efforts in the short time that we at Catholic Stewardship Consultants have been working with them to develop stewardship during the past year.

The presentations were focused on stewardship formation, and also offered direction and practical advice on how to implement stewardship at parishes around the diocese, and we were thrilled to be able to share our message with them.

The conference was featured in a recent issue of the Hawaii Catholic Herald, the newspaper of the Diocese of Honolulu. Click here to read the article.

Stewardship Reflection on Lectionary Readings: March 15, 2015

March 15, 2015 – Fourth Sunday of Lent
2 Chr 36: 14-16, 19-23; Ps 137: 1-6; Eph 2: 4-10; Jn 3: 14-21

Tissot_The_Flight_of_the_PrisonersFor some reason during Lent and our preparations for Easter the readings presented to us in Holy Scripture capture not only the essence of this holy season, but provide us with the many ways we should be using this time to appreciate and deepen our faith. In particular today’s Gospel from St. John completely captures on what we should be focusing and how we should view the impending joy of Easter.

John 3:16 is one of the most recognized, repeated, quoted, and expounded messages in our entire Christian society: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” Some theologians maintain that in this one verse the entire Gospel message is compacted and stated, and other theological historians state that this is the most frequently-quoted proclamation from Scripture in the world. We could reflect entirely on that verse, but there is even more richness and more meaning to all of our readings on this Fourth Sunday of Lent.

The 1st and 2nd Books of Chronicles represent the history of human kind at that time. The first word in 1 Chronicles is “Adam” and the last words in 2 Chronicles are included in today’s first reading. The entire message from the two books of Chronicles can be summed up with the phrases “God loves us” and “God has gifted us.” This is the message on which we must base our thoughts, our prayers, and our responses to all of today’s readings. This particular reading from Chronicles speaks of the Babylonian exile, a 70-year period when many of the Israelites were transported to Babylon where they remained prisoners. When they were released from captivity, many opted to remain in Babylon. The message is that the end is also a “fresh start.” During this Lent every day is a “fresh start” for each of us. It should be our goal to make use of it, keeping in mind that we are gifted by God, and through stewardship we are called to use those gifts to thank God and benefit others.

In St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, our second reading, Paul mentions also that God’s saving grace is a gift to us. This is a gift always available to us, but one to which we are definitely called during Lent. Reconciliation is important to our faith and vital to each of us. We need to seek reconciliation in preparation for Easter. We need to understand and appreciate that God’s forgiving grace is available to each of us, but we must seek it. The beauty, of course, is that it is ours even if we do not seek it.

As indicated in John 3:16 God loved the world — the entire world and all who occupy it. And who will receive the incredible gift of salvation? “Whoever believes in him.” Believing in Jesus is the one requirement for us to receive this incredible gift. We are not talking about just being aware of this gift, of just being aware of God’s saving grace. What is asked of us is a complete and total trust in God, the kind of trust which allows us to be good stewards, to take risks in that regard, because we know God is with us and God loves us. At this point in our Lenten journeys we need to seek total commitment to living lives of faith and stewardship.

Stewardship Bulletin Reflection: March 15, 2015

March 15, 2015 – Fourth Sunday of Lent
2 Chr 36: 14-16, 19-23; Ps 137: 1-6; Eph 2: 4-10; Jn 3: 14-21

john-iconIt has been said many times over and in a variety of ways that stewardship is based upon gratitude. Gratitude for what, we might ask? For the variety of blessings each of us receives, understanding full well that each of us is gifted in different ways and perhaps even in different measures. However, there is one gift in which we all share equally.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” (John 3:16) It is difficult for us to even conceive of the magnitude of that multifaceted gift, from God’s unconditional love for us to the extraordinary gift of his son Jesus to the fabulous gift of everlasting life.

Stewardship calls us to appreciate all of God’s gifts, but if we only focus on the gifts listed above, our gratitude should know no bounds. Pope Francis has said, “God never gives someone a gift they are not capable of receiving. We all have the ability to understand and receive God’s gifts.” We need to recognize God’s gifts and especially during our preparations for Easter, find ways to show and live out our gratitude.

Questions and Answers — Msgr. McGread Stewardship Conference

McGread-Conference-April-2015There is still time to register for the next Msgr. McGread Stewardship Conference, which will be held April 22-23 at the Diocese of Wichita’s Spiritual Life Center in Wichita, Kansas.

For more than 10 years, the McGread Conference has inspired and educated thousands of priests, religious, and lay Catholics looking to transform their parishes through stewardship.

The conference is named for the late Msgr. Thomas McGread, who passed away in April 2013. Msgr. McGread has been called the “Father of Stewardship,” and he was instrumental in the drafting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ pastoral letter, Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response. Conference attendees will hear the incredible story of how Msgr. McGread’s stewardship vision transformed his parish — St. Francis of Assisi in Wichita — and how his stewardship model has impacted other parishes across the country. The conference is scheduled during the middle of the week so that all participants can arrive Tuesday evening and depart Thursday afternoon.

Curious if the Msgr. McGread Stewardship Conference is for you or your parish? Here are a few Frequently Asked Questions (and answers) to give you a better idea of what to expect.

What topics will the speakers cover in their presentations? 
Each of the pastors and lay leaders invited to speak at this conference will share his or her parish’s stewardship story. Learn about the joys and challenges of implementing stewardship into a parish setting. Additionally, a CSC representative will speak about practical steps for developing stewardship in your parish.

My parish is already a “stewardship parish.” Will I learn anything new at the conference? 
Definitely! In addition to the insights and best practices mentioned during each of our presentations, the conference offers attendees the opportunity to network and learn from clergy and laity at other parishes, who may be in different stages along the stewardship journey.

Can I buy merchandise, or take home “freebies” at this conference? 
While we do not sell merchandise at our Msgr. McGread Conferences, there will be several free items that each attendee can take home. Those items include the book Grateful and Giving by Dcn. Don McArdle, which explores the beginnings of stewardship at St. Francis of Assisi in Wichita, a DVD presentation of Msgr. McGread speaking about stewardship, and more!

I don’t think “stewardship” will work at my parish. Should I still attend the conference anyway? 
First of all, stewardship can work at every parish and in every person’s life! The USCCB, in its pastoral letter Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response, states that stewardship and discipleship go hand-in-hand. We are all called to be disciples and, therefore, we are all called to stewardship. Attending the Msgr. McGread Stewardship Conference will offer additional insights on how stewardship can transform your parish community. Additionally, representatives from CSC will be on-hand at the conference to offer further guidance and tips to consider when implementing stewardship at the parish level.

Click here to view the McGread Conference brochure, which includes key details about the event, the lineup of presentations and more. You can also complete your secure online registration at this link. For more information, contact Shari Navarre at 888-822-1847, ext. 3702, or by e-mail at shari@catholicsteward.com.

Stewardship Reflection on Lectionary Readings: March 8, 2015

March 8, 2015 – Third Sunday of Lent
Ex 20: 1-17; Ps 19: 8-11; 1 Cor 1: 22-25; Jn 2: 13-25

JesusandtheMoneyChangersThe Ten Commandments, as presented to us in the first reading from Exodus, represent God’s direct teaching to us as to how we need to live and structure our lives. That is essentially what Lent is all about — a time for us to review those teachings and that structure, and how we are doing living it out.

Traditionally, the Ten Commandments can be divided into two groups — the first four address our relationship to God, and the final six speak to our relationships with one another. God makes it quite clear to us that He does not just wish to be part of our lives; he wishes to be at the foundation of our lives, the absolute focal point around which we do everything. Leading a God-centered life is at the core of a life of stewardship. Our bond and liaison with the Lord should be central to our entire lives; it is this correlation with God which should be the driving force in our Lenten efforts.

In his letter to the Corinthians St. Paul preaches, “We proclaim Christ crucified.” This statement is necessary for us to truly understand our faith and our connection to Christ. A legend is told of a church that placed this statement on an arch leading into the church. However, over time, weeds began to grow over the arch so that the saying could only be seen as “We proclaim Christ.” Without the crucifixion of Christ and the salvation it brought to us, it is never enough just to be loyal to Christ. More time passed and the only thing that could be seen was “We proclaim.” Clearly without Christ and the Cross, simply “proclaiming” is not adequate. It becomes empty words. Finally, all was blotted out by the weeds except for “We.” Is that where we are? Is that where our church is? We must be more than a social gathering place. Lent is not about us; it is about Christ crucified.

Our Gospel from John relates Jesus driving the money changers and others from the Temple. This was not a sudden fit of anger on the Lord’s part. Note how He made a whip of cords, something which required time. He had carefully thought out what He was going to do. In John’s Gospel, St. John first speaks of Jesus’ conversion of water to wine. This is an important, although subtle, beginning. Jesus first converts, then He cleanses. This is the same process through which each of us must go; first we must seek conversion, then we seek cleansing. That, too, is perhaps the secret to our Lenten journeys.

John goes on to say that “Jesus would not trust himself to them (the admiring crowds) because he knew them all.” The Lord knows each of us; He understands each of us. Yet He loves us unconditionally. Jesus wants more than our admiration. Our goal during this Lent should be to acknowledge His love; accept His trust; but make an effort within ourselves to earn and deserve that trust. It is ours either way. That is the joy of God’s love; we receive it whether we deserve it or not.

Stewardship Bulletin Reflection: March 8, 2015

March 8, 2015 – Third Sunday of Lent
Ex 20: 1-17; Ps 19: 8-11; 1 Cor 1: 22-25; Jn 2: 13-25

Rembrandt_Harmensz._van_Rijn_079The Ten Commandments are our moral code given directly to us from God. Our Catholic beliefs, morals, and practices often come under attack from the secular society, but these clearly written morals are the anchor on which much of our behavior should be based.

In fact, according to the noted author and philosopher C. S. Lewis, “There is a universal morality among all humankind. These principles represented in the Ten Commandments are implanted in the hearts and minds of all women and men.” That would seem to make it simple, but as we all know, nothing is ever simple.

Nevertheless, during our Lenten preparations for Easter it is an excellent time for us to evaluate how we are doing in relation to these basic Commandments from God. Our sense of stewardship tells us that we are in need of God’s guidance and instructions. Too often in our society we seem to rely upon what our “personal” feelings may be in relation to morals and how we live them out. When questioned about the Commandments, Jesus responded that the two most important were to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind,” as well as “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Our problem may be that we do not even fulfill those two Commandments, let alone the Ten Commandments. That should be our goal always, not just during Lent.