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Stewardship

WHAT IS A GOOD STEWARD?

In their pastoral letter on Stewardship, the American Bishops indicated that a good steward embodies four specific qualities: that of gratefulness, responsibility, willingness to share and accountability. We are grateful when we thank God for the blessings we have received. We are responsible when we take those blessings and use them prudently. A good steward knows that it is better to give than to receive and when we share we get so much back. Since God has entrusted us with talent, gifts and financial resources, He holds us accountable. God will ask us in the end:

“What did you do with all the time that you had? What did you do with all the gifts that I gave you? The final question – what did you do with your life?” If we can answer that we have been stewards He will say to us “Well done good and faithful servants enter into the kingdom prepared for you.” (Mt 25:21)


CATHOLICS AS GOOD STEWARDS


When the history of our generation of Catholics is written we believe that it will be said of us “What good stewards they were.” Certainly this generation has faced economic uncertainty, shifting demographics, threats to the Church from without and scandals from within. And yet Catholics still invest themselves in the life of the Church. They keep praying, they keep coming to Mass and they keep volunteering and participating in so many activities that reach out and help others.

It will be recorded in the future that Catholics in the beginning of the new millennium worked to change the culture of death into the culture of life. They are a powerhouse for good and they will be recognized in the future for the sacrifices they make to preserve their Catholic Faith and live the values of the Gospel. May all of us be among that number when historians tell their story about us.


STEWARDSHIP

The stewardship way of life teaches that we must be thankful people and return to God a proportionate amount of the time, talent, and treasure that he has so graciously given us. Stewardship is a "faith journey" along the path of life. We must use those gifts which come from God in a responsible manner to promote his kingdom on earth.

We acknowledge God’s existence and His ownership of everything by exercising good stewardship. That means managing everything well and responsibly. It also means using some of our time, talents and treasures directly to acknowledge God’s existence and to further the knowledge, acceptance and love of God in this world.

Disciples are people who follow the way of Jesus no matter what the cost, who respond to the call of Jesus in a way that changes how we live.


STEWARDSHIP IS A WAY OF LIFE

Three major elements of Stewardship are:

1. Prayer
2. Ministry (Time and Talent)
3.Treasure/Offering

Intentional Stewardship

  • How do we plan to use our talents? How do we distribute our wealth? Before we make these decisions, we must first decide if we really want to be disciples of Jesus Christ. If we truly want to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ, Stewardship is not an option.
  • Stewardship is giving your time and talent for God’s work on earth.
  • “While we have time, let us do good to all men….” The first step is to put God first in your life. As an adult you give of your time to those who are in need, you give of your talent where it will help bring men together in the name of Christ.
  • St. Charles continues on its journey toward becoming a total stewardship parish.
  • All parishioners are invited to become Stewards of St. Charles.

UNDERSTANDING STEWARDSHIP

God is generous, giving, loving, forgiving, and gracious. God desires our loving response to God's generosity. God's generosity can be seen most clearly in retrospect. Examine your life. Search to see God's generous hand in it. Take out a pad of paper and write down the times in your life or in the lives of others close to you when God's hand has been present. Ponder these examples.

Now think of some times when your parish has stepped out in faith and God has been there. Jot down those times and save them.

Stewardship is a way of life, giving thanks for all that God has given us-our time, our talents, and our treasure. Stewardship is the way we manage all our time, talents, and treasure. Nothing of value happens in human life without these three currencies. Nothing of value happens in the life of a church without these three currencies. Some think of stewardship as what we give, or return to God for God's work through the church. A tithe means 10 percent of our worldly goods, but really 100% belongs to God.



Stewardship means "Becoming partners in God's Work"

It's a common quip that the motto of the old Church was "Pray, pay and obey!" With Vatican II, however, the seeds of deeper Christian responsibility were sown. The Council Fathers called on the laity to take renewed ownership of the Church. At the same time, they challenged the faithful to avoid a dangerous tendency in the modern world: separating religious faith from other areas of our lives.

Getting faith into every corner of our lives is the underlying theme of the U.S. bishops' letter on stewardship. Rather than browbeat and sound the alarm for massive tithing programs, the letter calls on us to "grasp the vision" (not just grasp our checkbooks!) Of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. Their approach calls to mind the movie Field of Dreams : If you build it, they will come." The bishops recognize that if all Catholics try to build a deeper commitment to Jesus, the Church will never be short of what it needs to carry out Christ's mission.

You are being enriched in every way for all generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God (2 Cor 9:11).




In their pastoral letter on Stewardship, the American Bishops indicated that a good steward embodies four specific qualities: that of gratefulness, responsibility, willingness to share and accountability. We are grateful when we thank God for the blessings we have received. We are responsible when we take those blessings and use them prudently. A good steward knows that it is better to give than to receive and when we share we get so much back. Since God has entrusted us with talent, gifts and financial resources, He holds us accountable. God will ask us in the end:

“What did you do with all the time that you had? What did you do with all the gifts that I gave you? The final question – what did you do with your life?” If we can answer that we have been stewards He will say to us “Well done good and faithful servants enter into the kingdom prepared for you.” (Mt 25:21)


Prayer of Christian Stewards

God our Father,
You call all your children to live a life of holiness,
and you sent Jesus among us as the perfect Steward
to lead us on our journey of faith.

Grant that we,
as Disciples of your son,
may acknowledge you as the source of all our gifts,
in the love we show the least of your people,
the care with which we protect your created beauty,
the generous spirit in which we return
these gifts to you with increase.

We pray that in all we are and all we do,
we strive to imitate your Son
in His life of humble service.

All this we ask in Jesus' name.
Amen.


AN OVERVIEW OF STEWARDSHIP

What Is Stewardship?
  • Stewardship is a complete lifestyle, a life of total accountability and responsibility acknowledging God as Creator and Owner of all. Stewards as disciples of Jesus Christ see themselves as caretakers of all God's gifts. Gratitude for these gifts is expressed in prayer, worship, offering, and action by eagerly sharing these gifts out of love of God and one another (National Catholic Stewardship Council 1993). Stewardship is based on the spiritual principles of the Old Testament and the teachings of Jesus; and where it has been implemented, both givers' and receivers' lives have been changed. Stewardship is a way of life, a way of thanking God for all His blessings by returning a portion of the time, talent, and treasure allotted to us.
  • Stewardship is living out Christ's instruction to "love one another as I have loved you." (John 13:34)
  • Stewardship is caring. Stewardship is responsible management of our God-given resources of time, talent, and treasure. It enhances our relationship with God and one another.
  • Stewardship builds happy, healthy families. Stewardship renews Christ's Church.
  • Stewardship pleases God because the good steward is careful of creation, is respectful of justice and charity, and is prayerful at all times. "Much will be required of the person entrusted with much and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more." (Luke 12:48)
Our offering of time, talent, and treasure is one way of saying: We belong to the Lord and to one another. It is an...

Act of Faith
We profess that we belong to God and all that we possess is His.

Act of Trust
We place our life in God's loving hands and make Him our treasure.

Act of Worship
We adore Him as the giver of all good gifts.

Act of Belonging
We unite our offering with the rest of our Parish Family so that together we might care for the needs of one another, especially the poor.

"As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God's varied grace". (1 Peter 4:10)

Spirituality of Stewardship
Stewardship is living out a commitment to be Christ-centered rather than self-centered. This conversion is the result of our total self being focused on God as the Creator and giver of all good gifts. Profound gratitude, justice and love become the fundamental motives for giving back to God.

Christian stewardship can be identified by several meaningful characteristics, according to Stewardship a national newsletter:

  • Christian Stewardship provides a spirituality that a layperson can take home from Church, exercise at work, and express through personal involvement in both the community and the Church.

  • Christian Stewardship successfully bridges the material world around us and the world of the Spirit within us.

  • Christian Stewardship gives joy! Those who voluntarily give their time and abilities for work in the parish will always experience joy if they give them for Christ. They are not, however, guaranteed freedom from frustration.

  • Christian Stewardship is not job-oriented or project-minded. It is a way of life for a lifetime.

  • Christian Stewardship takes a positive view of money. It sees money not only as a medium of exchange but also as a symbol of the person who has it. We reveal something of who we are by the way we acquire it, use it, and share it.

  • Christian Stewardship helps us to become aware that God is the ultimate giver of the gifts we have. Our gift to God should be from our first fruits not from what may be left over.

  • Christian Stewardship teaches Christians to be concerned about where and how to share their parish financial overflow. Stewardship is not giving just to meet the needs of the budget.

  • Jesus Christ is God's greatest gift to us. Stewardship tells us to share a portion of our time, talent, and treasure so that the gift, Jesus Christ, may be given to those who do not know Him.

No doubt, the spiritual benefits outweigh all else. Properly presented, teaching about stewardship will deepen our faith and ultimately change our lives.

The following theological points serve as a basis for a Christian way of life expressed through stewardship:

  • Stewardship expresses a basic attitude of gratitude to God for God's many gifts to us and the trust we have in God as the ultimate source of our security.

  • As stewards we are called to use these gifts to further God's creative and redemptive purposes; as stewards we use God's gifts for God's purposes.

  • God's creative and redemptive purposes are most fully revealed in the life, death, and resurrection of God's son, Jesus. The basic pattern of Jesus' work is found in the Paschal mystery. It is a pattern of giving life for the sake of others, and in the giving, finding life more fully realized for ourselves and for those to whom we give.

  • The Church is a gathering of disciples who nurture and encourage one another in discipleship. The practice of discipleship in and through the Church is one of the primary ways we are called to follow Jesus. It is the whole Church, the Body of Christ, which is responsible for carrying on the work of Christ in the world today.

  • Our sharing in the Paschal mystery of Jesus brings us to the notion of sacrifice as a sign of gratitude, praise, and trust in God. Sacrifice means giving from our substance so our giving changes us.

    An example: The bread and wine we offer at the Eucharist represents the whole of our lives. When they are transformed, the whole of our lives is transformed. So, too, the symbolic offering of a significant proportion of our talent, treasure, and time is a sign of our giving our whole lives to God, and our whole lives are transformed in the action.

St. Paul reminds us that we are but one body with many parts. For the body to function, those parts are interdependent. Christ expects us to work with Him to make the mission of the Church real, vibrant and alive. Stewardship requires participation in the mission of the Church. The challenge of stewardship is to direct our doing. Each of us is here for a purpose. Each of us is here to make a difference. According to the parables of stewardship, God charges us with the building of the Kingdom.

When stewardship is introduced in a parish those who respond generously to the message are often parishioners who have experienced a spiritual renewal through Renew, Marriage Encounter, Cursillo, Christ Renews His Parish, the Charismatic Renewal or similar small faith-sharing groups. Many distinguished leaders in the Church believe that establishing and nurturing small faith-sharing groups is critical for the future vitality and spiritual growth of Catholics. Experience has demonstrated that parishioners who are members of such groups are often leaders as well as generous contributors of their time, talent, and treasure.


A Summary of the 1992 U.S. Bishops' Pastoral Letter, Stewardship: A Disciple's Response

To be a Christian steward
What identifies a Steward? Safeguarding material and human resources and using them responsibly is one answer; so is generous giving of time, talent, and treasure. But being a Christian steward means more. As Christian stewards, we receive God's gifts gratefully, cultivate them responsibly, share them lovingly in justice with others, and return them with increase to the Lord.

Disciples as stewards
Let us begin with what it means to be a disciple-a follower of our Lord Jesus Christ. As members of the Church, Jesus calls us to be disciples. This has astonishing implications:

  • Mature disciples make a conscious decision to follow Jesus, no matter what the cost.

  • Christian disciples experience conversion-life-shaping changes of mind and heart and commit their very selves to the Lord.

  • Christian stewards respond in a particular way to the call to be a disciple. Stewardship has the power to shape and mold our understanding of our lives and the way in which we live.

  • Jesus' disciples and Christian stewards recognize God as the origin of life, giver of freedom, and source of all things. We are grateful for the gifts we have received and are eager to use them to show our love for God and for one another. We look to the life and teaching of Jesus for guidance in living as Christian stewards.

Stewards of creation
The Bible contains a profound message about the stewardship of material creation: God created the world but entrusts it to human beings. Caring for and cultivating the world involves the following:

  • Joyful appreciation for the God-given beauty and wonder of nature.

  • Protection and preservation of the environment, which would be the stewardship of ecological concern.

  • Respect for human life; shielding life from threat and assault, doing everything that can be done to enhance this gift and make life flourish.

  • Development of this world through noble human effort, physical labor, the trades and professions, the arts and sciences. We call such effort work.

Work is a fulfilling human vocation. The Second Vatican Council points out that, through work, we build up not only our world but also the kingdom of God, already present among us. Work is a partnership with God; our share in a divine-human collaboration. It occupies a central place in our lives as Christian stewards.

Stewards of vocation
You are being enriched in every way for all generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God (2 Cor 9:11).

Stewards of the church
As Stewards of the Church,
we cooperate with God in our own
redemption and in the redemption of others.
The unity of the body of Christ
is a precious gift to be cherished, preserved, and built up by lives of love.
Stewards of the Church are collaborators and
cooperators in continuing the redemptive work
of Jesus Christ, which is the mission of the Church.

Stewardship is part of the journey.

Obstacles to Stewardship
People who want to live as Christian disciples and Christian stewards face serious obstacles. In the United States and other nations, a dominant secular culture often contradicts religious convictions about the meaning of life. This culture frequently encourages us to focus on our pleasures and ourselves. At times, we can find it far too easy to ignore spiritual realities and to deny religion a role in shaping human and social values.

Catholics have entered into the mainstream of American society and experienced its advantages; many of us also have been adversely influenced by this secular culture. We know what it is to struggle against selfishness and greed, and we realize that it is harder for many today to accept the challenge of being a Christian steward. It is essential, therefore, that we make a special effort to understand the true meaning of stewardship and live accordingly.

A Steward's Way
The life of a Christian steward models the life of Jesus. It is challenging and even difficult, in many respects, yet intense joy comes to those who take the risk to live as Christian stewards. Women and men who seek to live as stewards learn that "all things work for good for those who love God." (Romans 8:28)

After Jesus, we look to Mary as an ideal steward. As the Mother of Christ, she lived her ministry in a spirit of fidelity and service. She responded generously to the call. We must ask ourselves: Do we also wish to be disciples of Jesus Christ and Christian stewards of our world and our Church?

Central to our human and Christian vocations, as well as to the unique vocation each of us receives from God, is that we be good stewards of the gifts we possess. God gives us this divine-human workshop, this world and Church of ours. The Spirit shows us the way. Stewardship is part of that journey.

Thoughts on the Pastoral Letter
The U.S. Bishops' Pastoral Letter, Stewardship: A Disciple's Response, has situated stewardship within the context of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. "These linked realities, discipleship and stewardship, then make up the fabric of a Christian life in which each day is lived in an intimate, personal relationship with the Lord." (p.13) Stewards as Disciples see themselves as caretakers of God's many gifts. They are grateful for what they have received and eager to cultivate their gifts out of love for God and one another. Being a disciple and practicing stewardship are aspects of the same reality.

The U.S. Bishops' Pastoral Letter powerfully supports our efforts to promote stewardship.

The Pastoral:

  1. Introduces a theology of stewardship for Catholics in America.

  2. Emphasizes that stewardship is integral, not optional.

  3. Links stewardship and discipleship.

Some parishes use the Bishops' Pastoral Letter, Stewardship: A Disciple's Response as a study and prayer activity. Parishioners spend a specified amount of time between meetings reading and reflecting on one chapter of the pastoral letter and then gather in small groups to respond to the questions at the end of each chapter.

This section reprinted with Permission: International Catholic Stewardship Council, www.catholicstewardship.org