It’s always great for me to assist a parish looking to develop stewardship as a way of life in order to deepen the faith of each individual parishioner. They don’t usually know this at first, but it is focusing on evangelizing the individual parishioner that truly leads to long-term stewardship success.
Many of us are guilty of “zoning out” at Mass whenever money is discussed. In our minds, money has no place in church. We think Mass should focus on spiritual matters, and encourage us to grow in our relationship with God, not tell us how to spend our hard-earned paychecks. But, for the true steward, money has a spiritual component. When used according to God’s will, our income becomes a sort of prayer – an expression of our devotion to God, and our trust in His plan for our lives.
Jesus predicted that the Jerusalem Temple, beautiful as it was, would be destroyed. He then went on to speak of wider turmoil among the nations, throughout the natural world, and in the heavens.
But before the end, the Day of the Lord, which will bring judgment on the evil and healing to the faithful, there will be a long period which will be marked by rejection, persecution, and even execution for faith in Christ. However, he urged perseverance to secure our eternal life.
St. Paul wrote to tell us in this waiting period, we should carry on our daily tasks and work, taking responsibility to support ourselves. That keeps disorder out of the Christian community, and leads us to a quiet life in which we can use some of our time, talent, and treasure to serve Christ and his Church.
Nov. 14, 2010 –Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
What can you when it seems that the whole world as you know it is collapsing around your head? When you feel threatened and vulnerable? Be prepared, but do not lose faith and do not panic is the message our Lord has for us, according to Luke 21.
This whole discourse from Jesus must have shocked the disciples. They were in Jerusalem shortly before the Passover, worshipping in the public areas of the Temple. Some were commenting on the grandeur and the beauty of the Temple. Then Jesus caught them by surprise by responding that, impressive as it was, the whole Temple would be destroyed. The impact this prophecy made on its hearers must have been enormous – some who overheard it even used it as evidence against Jesus at his trial (Mk 14:57-59).
Regular financial reporting to parishioners is a must to keep them informed, as well as to show transparency. Including a brief monthly financial report in the bulletin or the parish newsletter is a good way to accomplish this.
The idea is to have a breakdown of revenue and expenses that is easily understood by the average parishioner. Something that they can relate to, much like their own household budget.
Also, in case you missed our in-depth look at financial transparency for stewardship parishes posted here a few months back, click here for Deacon Don McArdle’s archived post.
During an annual stewardship renewal, it’s typical for many parishes to have one weekend dedicated to a lay witness presentation at all Masses. This is a a good opportunity for parishioners to hear from one of their own about how they are trying to more fully live out their Catholic Faith.
While this is an opportunity to evangelize people, as with anything, the lay witness presentation can be hit or miss. Too often, parishes mistakenly believe that if they just have some parishioners get up and talk, it will make a positive impact. This obviously is not the case. The content of the talk is as critical to it’s effectiveness as is the speaker. The delivery is important, too, but secondary to the content. As long as the delivery is sincere, there doesn’t need to be an overemphasis on style. It’s the substance that matters most.
“What if” that person spent 10 years traveling all over the globe finding “street” musicians anywhere and everywhere to record an old pop favorite, Stand By Me?
“What if” they did record it, despite the fact that none of the musicians left their native land or envoirnment to do so, but through technology, a street musician in New Orleans, La. was able to sing with another street musician in Santa Monica, Calif.?
“What if” those two were able to sing with a choir in South Africa, Native American drummers in New Mexico, guitar players in Brazil, Cuba, and Italy, and those musicians could play with someone playing the cello in Moscow Square in Russia?
“What if” that entire group could sing and play with other musicians from France, Israel, and the Netherlands?
Well, that is exactly what they did!
The hope of the resurrection was what inspired the seven sons and their mother to endure the sufferings recounted in 2 Maccabees 7. That the doctrine of the resurrection is true was affirmed by Jesus in the Gospel reading from Luke 20. The truth of the resurrection means that this life does have meaning and that we are responsible for the kind of stewardship we practice with the time, talent, and treasure God entrusts to us in this life. But we don’t have to try to live as good stewards by our own efforts alone. In the reading from 2 Thessalonians, St. Paul tells us that God through his grace encourages and strengthens us.
Nov. 7, 2010 –Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
It’s jokingly said that one of the most painful motions a man can make is to reach down to pull his wallet out of his pocket. That’s especially true when he’s going to open his wallet to make a contribution. But as the reading from 2 Maccabees 7 makes clear, men are willing to suffer pain and even death for something they believe in. And what’s more worthy of our pain – either physical or emotional – than the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ carried out through his Church?
The seven brothers and their mother who died for the practice of their faith in the reading from 2 Maccabees did so because of their hope for the resurrection. Jesus in the Gospel reading from Luke 20 reaffirms that hope as one of the basic doctrines of Christianity. This life is not the end. At the end of time, our bodies will rise again and be rejoined to our souls.
It is a four-session, workbook/video study session that is solid on the spirituality of stewardship. It is perfect for continuing stewardship education for you pastoral/parish council, staff, and finance council.
The series was developed by the Diocese of Wichita and is titled The Spirituality of Stewardship DVD Formation Series and Facilitator Manual. For more information and to order it for your parish leaders, click here for info on the series at the Diocese of Wichita’s Web site. There is also a flyer on the Diocese of Wichita’s Web site with more info on the series you can view by clicking here. Finally, you may contact the Diocese of Wichita Office of Stewardship directly with questions, or to order the series, by calling 316-269-3900, or by email at powellp@catholicdioceseofwichita.
Parishes all over the country have already found this series extremely helpful. If you use it, I am confident it will help your parish’s leadership gain more knowledge on the true meaning of stewardship.
If the “leaders” in a parish aren’t formed in a solid understanding of the spirituality of stewardship, how can we expect the rest of the parish to understand its meaning?
What can a parish do to rise above the rest and give itself a better-than-average chance to more fully develop stewardship within the faith community? A fundamental step is to make a serious effort in forming key parish leaders. You may be asking, “Who are we talking about here?” First and foremost, it starts with the pastor. Just because he’s an ordained minister doesn’t mean he fully understands – or even practices – the spirituality of stewardship.
The Fall season is a time when many stewardship parishes conduct their Annual Stewardship Renewals. That is indeed the case here at my parish, Immaculate Conception in Willoughby, Ohio, as October is our Stewardship Renewal month.
We mailed out our Stewardship packets to all parishioners asking them to make their commitments of Time, Talent and Treasure. Being good Americans, we tend to look at things from a “success” perspective. So, how do we look upon our Stewardship Renewal as to whether or not it is successful?
The wealthy chief tax collector desired to see Jesus when he came to Jericho, but had to climb a tree to see over the crowd. Jesus invited himself to Zacchaeus’ house, even though tax collectors were despised for collaborating with the Romans. But as Wisdom says, God warns offenders and reminds “them of the sins they are committing,” so they may repent. Such happened to Zacchaeus when he encountered Jesus, and he responded by becoming a generous steward. We too are challenged to respond to Jesus when we meet him.
Oct. 31, 2010 –Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Conversion is more than just a dramatic emotional experience leaving behind lingering warm feelings, although that’s the concept held by many people. A conversion, rather, is a total change from one way of life to another.
Zacchaeus found out how much conversion changed his life when he encountered Jesus, as we read in Luke 19.
Zacchaeus is described by St. Luke as “a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man.” Those two characteristics were undoubtedly connected. Tax collectors, remember, were viewed as traitorous collaborators with the Roman forces occupying Palestine, men willing to fleece their fellow Jews. After all, as long as tax collectors handed over the sum the Roman government expected, they were free to pocket whatever surplus they had extracted – and there was no appeal from their demands, so most of them ended up with comfortable amounts in their coffers. And a chief tax collector like Zacchaeus did even better. Being head of all the tax collectors for the region around Jericho, he was able to claim a share of what the tax collectors below him in rank had extorted from the populace. Undoubtedly he had grown wealthy indeed. He might even have won a contest for the most hated man in town.
“Stewardship is the grateful response of a Christian disciple who recognizes and receives God’s gifts and shares these gifts in love of God and neighbor.”
While it may be a short and simple statement, it is one of the best definitions of stewardship I have found. Communicating this with the staff, leaders, and members of your parish will help you to foster a more unified understanding of stewardship. I would even recommend sharing this definition with the parish at-large by including it across multiple parish communication platforms, including the parish Web site, newsletter, bulletin, etc. Pastors, parish staff members, and lay leaders might even consider using it as a signature tagline at the end of their emails to further spread this short, powerful message.