They say when the concept of stewardship is embraced, lives can be transformed. Can you guess which of the following actually occurred at parishes where stewardship became a way of life?
1) A free elementary school education is provided for all its students.
2) Upon completing 8th Grade, the parish pays the tuition at a Catholic high school of the student’s choosing.
3) Mass attendance is at least 85% on Saturday and Sundays.
4) Hundreds of people attend weekday Mass.
5) After Mass, no one leaves their seats until the alter server blows out the last candle.
6) There are no second collections or fundraisers, but the parish still has plenty of resources to help their parishioners in need, as well as those from other parishes.
7) As one of its ministries, medical care is offered to underserved members of the community.
8) After developing a Perpetual Adoration Chapel, 800 parishioners signed up to pray with the Eucharist.
9) After developing a Perpetual Adoration Chapel, 10 priests and 8 men and women professed vows to a religious life.
See the answers below!
If you’re inspired to take your next step into discipleship, please review content from last weekend’s Call to Give intention weekend, followed by a link to the Call to Give Intention Card:
Living our lives as disciples begins with the renewal of our hearts and minds – a new way of thinking and change in attitude. The Call to Give phase of the 2016 Call to Discipleship series reminds us that Jesus calls us to give back to God in thanksgiving for all our financial and other resources we were blessed with. This is a hard concept to digest – especially with the cost of living, a significant pay cut or job loss.
However, we should remember that we are actually giving back something that wasn’t ours to begin with. Just as the Bible teaches us about tithing, it also reminds us that when we do, we’ll end up with more than what we started with.’
The following was adapted from St. Mary Magdalene Parish’s Sacrificial Giving literature.
If we truly believe that God gives us all that we have, gratitude is one response. Trust is another. When we realize that God has provided for us and will continue to do so, we recognize that our real security lies in God. Our God, who has given us all, will take care of our future.
Giving is Planned: The decision to give is just that—a decision. It requires thought and time, so that it is integrated with other financial decisions as part of a careful, intentional response to God’s generosity. For most of us, unless we plan something, it doesn’t happen. Unless we consciously incorporate the amount of our giving into our regular budget, it becomes an optional expense and may be lost in the financial shuffle. Planning our giving enables us to give of the first fruits rather than some amount left over after “more important” obligations have been satisfied. The planning process itself can be a spiritual exercise, focusing our attention on our values and priorities.
Giving is Proportionate: Our giving is proportionate to what God has given us – a proportion of our resources. How much should you give? Start with an assessment of your level of giving now. It is certainly a proportion of your resources but is it a proportion which adequately reflects your gratitude for God’s generosity? There is no magic number that represents the “right” amount. Although many people use the biblical concept of the tithe, a tenth, as a guide, that can seem daunting for many reasons. The proportion you choose should be sacrificial and truly commensurate to what God has given you. In many instances, it is a goal we have to work toward, recognizing that it takes time to re-orient our priorities. We can begin today by taking a small step, even 1/10 of a tithe if you have never given, or a 1/10 increase if you are already giving regularly. There is no “right” answer, either, to the calculation of income upon which the proportion is figured. Your pledge isn’t your tax return. It is your return to God of a proportion of the gifts God has given you, which you choose to share with your parish and other charities.
Giving is Sacrificial: Our giving is one way we have of walking in the footsteps of our Lord, who sacrificed everything so that we might have life. We give up something of ourselves so that life can flourish. When we give that way, we are changed. When giving becomes sacrificial, it focuses our attention on the true source of our security. When we give away something we think we need to survive, we are saying, “money won’t take care of us, possessions won’t save us.” Sacrificial giving bears witness to the reality that God alone will make us safe. Recognizing that reality and living it out constitute a tremendous change in our lives. And this can make an equally tremendous difference to the lives of others. The sacrifice we make by doing without some portion of our substance is just that—doing without so that life for others may flourish.
Giving is a Prayer of Thanksgiving: There is no better time to fulfill our commitment to give than in the atmosphere of prayer and thanksgiving. The celebration of Christ’s sacrifice is a fitting context for our own offerings which is a grateful response to the unfathomable love God has shown for us. Too often, we want to separate the issue of giving, particularly the giving of money, from those more “spiritual” aspects of our faith life. Yet, the commitment to give is one of the most important expressions of what our faith means to us. Through our financial offerings, we can express our joy in having received and in being able to give. We are able to say, “Thanks be to God!” We can give back some portion of the tremendous gifts that have been given to us, the most important of which we celebrate at the Eucharist.
We remember, too, that this commitment is one of personal as well as communal prayer and part of a lifelong process of turning toward God. Just as our giving forms an integral part of the ritualized expression of our faith—the Mass—so is it woven into struggles and joys we experience on our personal faith journey.
Place God First in All Things
This means making God’s priorities our priorities. When we place our loving Creator at the center of our life, we become more prayerful, more focused on loving and caring for our families and our neighbor in need and less preoccupied with material things. In short, we find the true source of happiness and fulfillment that we all seek and that the Lord alone can provide. It’s been said that: “People make the time and find the money for what they value most.” We must challenge each other, as disciples of Jesus Christ, to value God above all else. This belief will lead us to put our faith in action by finding the time and money to promote God’s priorities because we have made them our priorities as well.
How Will You Respond?
Every year you will have the opportunity to reflect on and re-evaluate your giving in light of your commitment to your faith. Our giving is a necessary expression of our faith, of what we say we believe. We channel a portion of our giving through our parish because it is the body which most clearly bears witness to the meaning and values we find at the center of our lives.
To submit a Call to Give intention card, please click here:
TRUE OR FALSE ANSWER:
They are ALL true! St. Francis of Assisi in Wichita, Kansas is a testament that all of the above can be true for a parish who adopts stewardship as a way of life. Father Thomas McGread brought the stewardship message to St. Francis Parish when he was appointed Pastor in 1968. He brought with him a vision from the words of St. Peter: “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)