“Our days glide by: death is at our door.” – St. Francis de Sales, The Devout Life
Stewardship is a way of life. Its practice is the only true path of Christian living, which demands active service and charitable giving.
To be considered a way of life, however, stewardship must be practiced from now until the moment of death. The call to give of our time, talent and treasure back to God in gratitude does not cease – there is no break, no pause, no respite. The race doesn’t end until the finish line.
One way to answer the call of stewardship right up until your last breath is to include your local parish or favorite charity as a benefactor in your will or revocable trust.
This may be a concept you’ve never considered. When creating a will, people often think of family and their alma mater – the local parish is generally overlooked as a beneficiary. However, the work of the Church has been greatly assisted by many generous gifts in the wills of its members, and your personal contribution can make a difference in the future of the Church.
Keep in mind that more than 50 percent of adults die each year without a valid will. And without a will, the laws of the state decide the disposition of one’s estate – no charitable giving is part of this distribution.
Take the time, therefore, to write a will and designate the parish or your favorite charity as a beneficiary. A bequest is a wonderful opportunity to express your commitment to the work of the Church right up to the moment of death. It is easy to arrange, does not affect your assets during life, and is completely revocable.
There are several ways to include the church in your will – as a fixed monetary amount, a specific item or designated property, a percentage of your estate, or a residual bequest (stating that after all bequests are granted, the residual is left to the Church).
Although the end of our earthly existence isn’t pleasant to ponder, it remains an important part of our lives. Death itself is, in a sense, the culmination of the Christian life, and our call to live as stewards continues even up until this moment. St. Philip Neri once said, “The best way to prepare for death is to spend every day of life as though it were the last. Think of the end of worldly honor, wealth and pleasure, and ask yourself: And then? And then?”
May we all maintain a healthy awareness of the finite nature of our earthly existence and give back to God with generous hearts.