God created everything, that which is visible and invisible. Our Catholic Faith places an emphasis not only on the invisible realities of spirituality, but also on the visible and tangible realities of spirituality. For example, the sacraments of the Church are very “materialistic” in the positive sense. We use water, oil, bread, wine, incense, music, art, fabric, flowers, gold, brass, marble, wood and everything else to show forth the invisible, to make God more tangible and real, especially God’s action in the world through Jesus Christ.
Some Christians, such as the Puritans, were very leery of the Catholic Church’s emphasis on elaborate liturgies, fine churches, vestments, and all the other accoutrements we use in our liturgies. They wanted a simple, stark and sterile spirituality. In a sense, they were opposed to the body and the material, seeing it as evil or imperfect, while the invisible realities of faith were to be savored as good and holy.
Thank God we’re not Puritans with their disembodied spirituality. Here at my parish, St. Joseph’s in Macon, Ga., we are fortunate to have our magnificent church, our liturgies and the sacraments to help us to touch, see, smell, hear and taste God! Fortunately for us, our forebears in our parish appreciated the Romanesque, elaborate, almost Baroque style of architecture they chose to hand on to us. A great number of our parishioners in the late 1800s, many of whom were poor, dedicated their time, talent and treasure to build a magnificent, elaborate and worthy temple to the “greater glory of God.” Unlike Judas who was scandalized by the costly perfume used to anoint Jesus feet which he sarcastically declared the money could have been given to the poor, our forebears understood that our God is worth any amount of treasure when given in the proper spirit for God’s greater glory.
All of this points to Catholic stewardship. We must understand that everything we have and who we are come to us as gifts from God. Our physical and spiritual lives are intimately woven together just as the humanity and divinity of Jesus are inseparable. We are invited to return a portion of the bounty that God has given us back to His Church and in service to the people of God. This means our time, talent and treasure.
I am extremely grateful for parishioners who understand the spiritual significance of Catholic stewardship as a radical acceptance of following the way of Christ. It is about prayer and worship, it is about Christian Service and it is about generosity and serving the needs of the poor. Catholic Stewardship is rooted in the person of Jesus Christ and the Gospel He proclaimed.