Anne Rice, the famous author of horror novels, rediscovered her Catholic Faith a couple of years ago. Last month, she publicly renounced her Catholic Faith. She said she would not belong to any Church or religion and would no longer even be a Christian, although she would continue to be “spiritual” and believe in Christ. Go figure!
Many modern people today espouse that they are spiritual, but not religious, belonging to no organized religious group. But is that possible? Not if you are Catholic, for Catholic spirituality means accepting the Catholic Faith, which always entails being a “Churchman.”
Wikipedia sums up our understanding of Catholic spirituality in a rather nice nutshell: “Catholic spirituality is the spiritual practice of living out a personal act of faith (fides qua creditur) following the acceptance of faith (fides quae creditur). Although all Catholics are expected to pray together at Mass, there are many different forms of spirituality and private prayer that have developed over the centuries. Each of the major religious orders of the Catholic Church and other lay groupings have their own unique spirituality — its own way of approaching God in prayer and in living out the Gospel.”
Many of the practical aspects of Catholic Spirituality are expressed in the “Catholic Stewardship” movement. We are called by God to share our time, talent and treasure with the Church Jesus founded through our parish community. Time means spending time with the Lord at Mass, in private and public prayer and devotions, contemplation, adoration, religious study and even experiences of religious ecstasy.
Talent means using your God given abilities to witness to Jesus Christ and the Church. These abilities might be what you are good at in the secular world, but you use them in such a way as to give testimony to your Catholic faith and your desire to live as our Catholic faith teaches. So if these talents are being a good parent, a great spouse, teacher, a good co-worker, being organized, studious or whatever, the talents are used to build up the Kingdom of God, witness to Jesus Christ and show forth the nature of what it means to belong to the Catholic Church. If one is so called, one would also use these talents for the Church and parish community, like teaching, visiting the sick, planting flowers, fixing toilets, working on committees, helping the poor the St. Vincent de Paul Society or whatever other ministries your parish has or your think we should have. At my parish, St. Joseph in Macon, Ga., our stewardship committee and I are always open to suggestions for new ministries, especially when someone wants to pick up the ball and run with it!
Treasure means supporting the parish with you money or material possessions. The suggestion is a true tithe, which is a tenth of one’s gross income. This is the most controversial aspect of the Catholic spirituality of stewardship and the one that most laity thinks priests like me spend too much time talking and writing about. But you notice it comes last in the list of three, but is far from least!
Here at St. Joseph, we are in the midst our Annual Stewardship Renewal of time, talent and treasure. Many stewardship parishes around the country are also getting ready to make their annual commitments. For those parishes and for my parish, I pray that as you make your commitments of time, talent and treasure, you will see it as a part of Catholic Spirituality, as part of being good stewards, and as part of becoming a spiritual person in the Catholic Church.