Fall is a time of harvest. It’s a time when we reflect on the gifts we have been given and how God always provides for us. It’s also a good time for parishes reflect on the virtue of good stewardship.
I always like to think about stewardship as the proper ordering of our hearts and lives. I long since have believed that if we can bring order to our passions and master our urges then, for the most part, we can be assured that our spirits will be strong and healthy and our individual and family lives will be happy and well ordered.
So Catholic stewardship is a spirituality that invites us to look into our hearts and to consider what we control and what controls us. Think, for example, about sex and money. Passions surrounding these two aspects of our lives are the strongest and most difficult for most of us to tame. If we don’t control or master these gifts from God then they very easily can control us.
Our sexuality is a gift from God very much like fire is a gift from God. On the one hand, fire is a tremendous blessing. We use fire to cook our food, to keep us warm, to light our candles when we pray, and to create campfires around which we can sing and roast our marshmallows. God gives us fire to bless us – but it must be controlled. Nobody would put a pile of unattended fire on his bed and expect it to be a blessing. Nobody would start a football on fire and kick it around the house and expect it to be a blessing. In order for us to be blessed by the gift it must be controlled and kept in its proper place.
So too it is with our sexuality. We all have heard vile and tragic stories of what has happened when someone’s sexual passions have gotten the better of him. Like a fire out of control it can be very destructive to us and others.
Money is another great and potent force in our lives. How sad and twisted we become when we allow money to enslave us, to dictate the choices we make, and to determine our happiness. How liberating it can be when we have a sanctified relationship with money and the goods of our world. We see how God always provides for us. We no longer worry and selfishly hoard. Our lives become filled with greater joy and we become greater blessings to others.
A spirituality of good stewardship is one that brings our passions and lives into proper order. Certainly it is the case that the parish needs the support of the parishioners in order to carry on its work, but even more than that is the reality that we all have a need to give. We all have the need properly to order our lives – all of our time, talents, treasure, passions, and all of those forces that press against our hearts.
Let’s offer it all to God. Bring it to the altar. When we can order our lives and gifts according to God’s plan our lives will know optimized blessing. Thanks be to God for the many ways we are growing to be a holy gift of God’s Kingdom!