Stewardship: A Way of Life (September 22, 2007)

Note: This presentation was prepared for the second anniversary celebration of the Stewardship (Balik-Alay) Program for Christ the King Parish on September 22, 2007.

Stewardship: A Way of Life

We are all here, not by accident, but because the Lord has a job for us to do.

Let me begin by talking about what stewardship is not:

It is not just a program since a program has a definite start, a beginning, and an end (although we can have a program to promote stewardship).

It is not just about the money that you give in the brown or white envelopes.

It is not just a particular group or committee in our parish.

It is not just another option.

What is stewardship then?

In August 2007, our parish was blessed to hear Fr. Daniel Mahan speak. Fr. Mahan is the Director for Formation of the International Catholic Stewardship Council. I will be reiterating some of the points that Fr. Mahan mentioned as not all of us may have been around during his talk or during the retreat that he gave. If you have heard some of these things before, it is still good to repeat them so we can further internalize these points.

Stewardship is a way of life that we are all called to and is based on our personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We are all called to imitate Jesus, to grow in holiness, and to make a positive difference that will transform our families, parish, communities, country, and the world.

It is a never-ending process of spiritual commitment and enrichment and of personal conversion.

It is asking: “What do you want me to do, Lord?” and having received a partial or a complete answer, you must set out and do what has been assigned to you.

What are the things that we must remember about stewardship?

A Pastoral Letter of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1992 and in 2002, discusses the characteristics of a steward.

The basis of stewardship is GRATITUDE.

We have all received blessings and talents from the Lord, in differing amounts, in varying forms.

When we realize that nothing we have is ever really ours, we will be thankful to a good, generous, and gracious God.

What are the blessings that you have received in your life so far? You have your family, friends, talents and gifts, opportunities, the gift of faith, and even the lessons that we learn from our daily crosses and difficulties. You are alive today. The Lord has a purpose for you that only you can do.

Colossians 2: 6-7 states: “Since you have accepted Christ Jesus as Lord, live in union with Him. Keep your roots deep in Him, build your lives on Him, and become stronger in your faith, as you were taught. And be filled with thanksgiving.”

The key to stewardship is RESPONSIBILITY.

When we are grateful and realize that God has given us so much then we will exert greater effort in ensuring that our gifts will not go to waste.

Inasmuch as stewardship is about placing our “trust” in the Lord, it is also realizing that the Lord has “trusted” us too with so much because He knows that we will use it for good.

What are your talents? What are you good at? How can you use your different gifts to help others and to glorify the Lord? Everyone can do some good. Each individual can make a significant contribution.

As St. Ignatius of Loyola once said:

“What have I done…What am I doing…What will I do… for Christ?”

The fruit of stewardship is GENEROSITY.

When we are grateful for our gifts and responsible for them, then we cannot help but be generous. We will want to give back to the Lord and to others with increase for as the Bible says, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

We will share our time, talent, and treasure with our parish and people around us. And what do we get in return for all of this?

We will remind ourselves that the Lord cannot be outdone in generosity and that when you give to the Lord and to the less fortunate, you will never regret it.

Fr. Mahan also said that the parish budget (and I add, our personal budgets too) is a theological document. They reveal what our priorities are and what is important to us. When we commit to give to the Lord and to others, we will be more financially disciplined as we will be forced to distinguish between our needs and our wants.

As St. Pedro Poveda once said: “You don’t need to be rich in order to give. It is enough to be good. He who is good will always find something to give.”

Stewardship: Future Directions

As we embrace stewardship as a “way of life”, we are taking a more holistic approach to stewardship.

We want more people to be “engaged” in the parish. Engagement goes beyond “involvement.” It is about helping parishioners find something that they do best because people shine when they are given the chance to do something that they enjoy and excel in. It is about using your talents and gifts to do the work that the Lord has set for you.

We want to get your inputs on how the parish can help you grow spiritually, how the parish can enrich your spiritual lives but we will need feedback from you and we request for your cooperation, assistance, and suggestions.

It is our objective to make Christ the King a true stewardship parish. At this point, I would like to share with you a piece which was adapted from the stewardship prayer of the Diocese of San Diego by Fr. Mahan:

My parish is composed of people like me.
I help make it what it is.
It will be friendly, if I am.
It will be holy, if I am.
Its pews will be filled,
if I help fill them.
It will do great work,
if I work.
It will be prayerful, if I pray.
It will make generous gifts to many causes,
if I am a generous giver.
It will bring others into its worship,
If I invite and bring them.
It will be a parish of loyalty and love,
of fearlessness and faith,
of compassion, charity, and mercy
if I, who make it what it is,
am filled with these same things.
Therefore, with the help of God,
I now dedicate myself to the
task of being all the things that I want my parish to be.

Thank you very much for your time and please remember what St. Teresa of Avila once said:

Christ has no body now on earth, but yours.
No hands but yours, no feet but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which the compassion of Christ must look out on the world.
Yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good.
Yours are the hands with which He is to bless His people.

If you wish to read more about Stewardship, you may purchase Fr. Mahan’s book entitled: More than Silver or Gold, Homilies of a Stewardship Priest. This is published by Claretian Publications and is available in major bookstores in the Philippines. You may also order in bulk from Arleene by calling 921-3984.

If you wish to attend the Spirituality of Stewardship Retreat with Fr. Mahan as retreat master, they will have the following retreats during these dates:

November 27-29, 2007
Talavera House of Prayer, Greenbelt Subd., Quiot, Cebu City, Philippines

December 4-6, 2007
Rivier Retreat House, Seminary Road, Catalunan Grande 800 Davao City, Philippines

To inquire, you may call Christi at 921-3984/922-0011/921-2859.