Dear Parishioners of Sandusky Catholic Community,
The story of a millionaire at the Church meeting is a good example of how Stewardship is often associated with money. Talking about a turning point in his faith, a wealthy man told the others that just after he had earned his first dollar he went to Church to worship. A visiting missionary happened to be giving a fund raising talk that morning and the man came to the decision to drop the bill into the collection basket. Now, looking back, he said, “Yes, I chose to give all my money to God. I believe he has blessed me for that and it’s why I am a rich man today.” There was respectful silence until an elderly woman piped up and said, “I dare you to do it again.”
September is Stewardship month in the parishes. Each parish has a Stewardship group and their ministry is to help each and every one of us to be Stewards of what God has given us. Time, talent, treasure are usually spoken about but sadly, what people mostly hear is treasure, treasure, treasure. The spirituality of stewardship has roots deeper that time, talent, and treasure. There are underlying values that dare us to give of ourselves in our relationship with God. These values are identity, trust, and love. These values naturally go to the core of the Christian message.
People have used “stewardship” as a catch phrase to describe fund raising or regarding a development office. They will say that they are using “the stewardship” approach. Yet it has little to do with stewardship. Rather what they are talking about is how to raise money.
Stewardship is not just about money. Does it involve money? Of course it does, as do a lot of other things. Stewardship, however, is a means to an end: evangelization.
Stewardship is a way of life, whereas, fundraising is all about raising money. Moreover, stewardship is spirituality rather than a theology. A theology is a group of ideas that you keep in your head but in spirituality there is a group of actions that is generated from your heart. Theology is something you think your way through. Spirituality is something you have to act your way through.
So Stewardship stems from identity. We are made by God, for God. When Stewardship is practiced well we are changed into the people that God wants us to be. In a very real sense we are not our own. We belong to God. When that identity is realized, we start to trust and we realize that we are caught up in something bigger than ourselves. The value of trust allows us to let go of what seemingly is in our control and to “let God” do what he is already doing in us. Thus the saying “Let go and let God.”
God has a plan to bring about life and he can bring good from evil and all we have to do is to trust God. When we have that trust we realize that the world is not created in our own image and that somehow we are in charge. When we realize that we are not the powerful one, but that God is in charge, we realign our lives and trust that God is doing the best for us in the midst of a struggling world.
Gratitude is the result of such a trust and we start to concentrate on not what we don’t have but from what we have. We start to believe that God does for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
This leads to love. Love is a requirement of the Christian. It is not an option. Love is our language and to be in that mode helps us realize that we have a need to give before we give to a need. Fr. Phil Feltman once said to me, “if someone understood stewardship, I could take the hundred dollar bill and burn it in front of them, and they would be all right with it.” To love means to give of our self and since you are giving, it is natural to love.
Hopefully this month we reflect on Stewardship in our lives. It is not only a way of life, it will be reflected even in our community as citizens. God bless you all. Let’s start in our lives to live as intentional stewards of all that God gives us.