Editor’s Note: This is the third in a five-part series by Msgr. Jim Costigan on The Pillars of Parish Stewardship.
“Jesus not only calls people to him but also forms them and sends them out in his service.” — From Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response
For my latest in this series on The Pillars of Parish Stewardship, we take a closer look at the second pillar: formation. Formation is the process of studying Christ’s teachings and incorporating them deeply into our lives. It is a lifelong effort by which we “put on Christ” (Rom 13:14) and are “transformed by the renewal of our minds” (Rom 12:2).
Above all, our formation should include studying Scripture and Church teaching. It should also include discussion with other Catholics and honest self-assessment. Its goal is to “discern the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect” (Rom 12:2).
Because formation helps us understand God’s will, it therefore leads naturally to good stewardship. When our minds are transformed through Christ, we become like him; as Christ gave His life for us, so we give our lives to others.
Formation is not just an individual task. Rather, it is a communal responsibility that, when applied, will further help your parish to grow as a stewardship parish. Each one of us has an inherent need to give; to move from “selfishness to selflessness,” as the Diocese of Wichita’s document The Pillars of Parish Stewardship aptly states. Formation is a process of spiritual growth, and it leads to a deeper understanding of loving others as God loves us.
Naturally, then, our Catholic formation should not end upon celebrating the Sacrament of Confirmation, or turning 18 years old. Formation is a formidable task that we as Catholics should participate in for the duration of our lives. It involves “education of the mind and conversion of the heart” (The Pillars of Parish Stewardship), and helps us to lead the stewardship way of life rather than just understand it.
Looking to take another step forward in your quest to embrace stewardship as a way of life? Your own formation is a great way to start. You can begin by reading 10 minutes of Sacred Scripture a day, or by studying a chapter of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on a daily basis. Read a biography of your favorite saint for an example of an individual who lived as a disciple of Christ, and use this person as a role model when tending to your daily tasks. Keep an eye on our weekly parish bulletin for faith formation opportunities at the parish. Before long, your commitment to formation will lead you to naturally live the Catholic Faith and understand stewardship in ways that you never imagined before.