The famous author G.K. Chesterton once said, “Coincidences are God’s way of staying anonymous.” Since my own conversion to the stewardship way of life, such coincidences have become cherished experiences for which I thank God. After all, while God remains anonymous, coincidences are His unique way of interacting with the world He created.
I think back to an article I once read about a seminarian who recalled Chesterton’s quote at his ordination to the episcopacy. Since then, I also have relied on the wisdom of that statement. When it comes to the stewardship way of life, that statement couldn’t be truer.
As I continue to witness the grace-filled effects of the stewardship way of life on others at our parish, as well as on my own life, it is definitely God’s hand at work in our lives of faith. If some identify a coincidence as a “surprise blessing” that lifts the spirits and draws one closer to God, we cannot deny that, in those circumstances, God is giving us the grace to live and celebrate our faith. So, let’s celebrate the coincidences!
Is it probably no coincidence that although this famous author converted to Catholicism late in life, he had written book after book affirming and defending the Catholic Faith long before his conversion. Five years after Chesterton joined the Church, he wrote a phenomenal book called The Catholic Church and Conversion. It is one of the best works on conversion to Catholicism out there. It is also a wonderful description of conversion to the stewardship way of life — the same experiences or “coincidences,” apply when we find ourselves curious and then drawn into the understanding and practice of discipleship, known to us as “stewardship.”
Chesterton describes conversion in three steps.
“The convert takes his first step rather unwittingly when he decides he’s going to be fair to the Catholic Church,” he wrote. “He does not think the Roman religion is true, but for the first time, he also doesn’t think that the accusations against the Church are true.” The convert to stewardship must also dispel the “myths of stewardship” and give it a chance.
The first step of conversion to Catholicism then leads to a long and enjoyable second step, which is the utter fascination of learning what the Catholic Church really does teach. Chesterton says, “It is like discovering a new continent full of strange flowers and fantastic animals, which is at once wild and hospitable.” For the stewardship convert, it is recognizing that stewardship is a practical way of living the Gospel. It makes sense, and others are doing it with joy and passion. What they have, the convert also wants.
Finally, the third step for the convert to Catholicism is when the individual suddenly realizes that he or she can no longer be detached and impartial about the Catholic Church. The new convert then goes all in. The convert to the stewardship way of life realizes this is the way he or she wants to live and makes a conscious decision and commitment to do so.
If this were not true of what Christ has called us to be, I would not be writing this today. If this were not true of our commitment to stewardship, you may not be reading this today. And, if this were not true of a stewardship parish such as St. Mary’s, we would not be the faithful stewards we are today.
Fr. Marvin Enneking