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Sunday, July 31, 2005

Stewardship Part Two

This is the second part of my series of articles on Stewardship. Reading part one, is not mandatory, but it does seem to be the polite thing to do...


******* Giving Back to the Giver *********

In the last Voices, I wrote that a Catholic understanding of stewardship is, at its core, a call to conversion in areas of our lives that can easily become subtle and sly roadblocks to developing a deeper spiritual life. In other words, the THREE T’s of Stewardship (Talent, Treasure, and Time) are concepts specifically targeted to address what I would label the THREE P’s: Pride, Possessions, and our Personal freedom.

None of the THREE P’s are bad in-and-of themselves. There is a natural pride that comes from using and utilizing the talents God has given to His Glory. Our possessions have been given to us to be useful and beneficial aids in our earthly life, and having those things to share with our families and others is a blessing. Our freedom is a God-given gift meant to be treasured.

However, because the THREE P’s have positive aspects, it is easy to be deceived into forgetting the Source of those gifts. We can quickly learn to rely on the gifts rather than the Giver. These gifts become – to our perception – our own abilities, our own wealth, and our own freedom, and we begin to rely on our limited resources in lieu of relying on the unlimited nature of God. In short, we become too “self” oriented: self-sufficient, self-centered, and selfish.

It is easy to become convinced that we can – and even that we should – rely on our own efforts; a proposition that often ends in disaster as our personal inadequacies surface to remind us of our reliance on God. Man was created with a dependence on God in both the spiritual and temporal (physical) areas of our lives, but the more we are blessed with physical gifts, the harder it is to remember that these “things” are not of our own creation.

In an effort to keep our gifts in a proper perspective, God calls us to give freely of the things we have been given. By returning portions of our gifts to the Giver, we recognize God as the Origin of all we’ve been given, and we honor Him. Giving is an act of worship, and a conscious cooperation with the work of the Church. Our giving should be guided by four principles:

1) Give back to God, in gratitude, a portion of everything we have been blessed with: monetary gifts, time, and talents should all be given to support and further the work of the Universal Church.

2) Give in a way that properly honors God as first in our lives: give first, not just a portion of “what is left” at the end of the month.

3) Give in a manner that is sacrificial, not just what we can easily do without. A gift easily parted with is not as precious as one which will be missed.

4) Give to a point where the Biblical concept of a tithe is the minimal baseline of the time, talent, and monetary resources which you share with others. If that is not yet the reality in our lives, we are called to consider ways to gradually increase our giving until it is a reality.

When we return our gifts to God, we are reminded of our dependence on Him. The act of giving is a physical manifestation of our desire to love, serve, submit to, and honor the One who has blessed us so richly.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Foundation Block

They delivered the block and gravel for additional work on the foundation, and almost immediately set the block...rock and roll! Framing is up next. Updates soon, hopefully.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Stewardship Part One

One of my responsibilities at St. Joan is to encourage and deepen the idea of Catholic, Christian Stewardship in the parish. Because I'm the "Business Manager", everyone assumes I'm interested only in the money.

Well, I am.

No, not really.

I AM interested in the fact that a parish of this size is reaching only 30-40% of its "tithing potential" and it does interest me to hear the reasons people give for that. As someone who grew up in a faith tradition that encouraged and expected the Biblical Tithe to be a pretty good guiding point, it is difficult to comprehend the difference in social/cultural perspective on this issue.

I am also interested, though, in the other two "arms" of the Stewardship triangle: talent, and time. As I said during a lunch discussion recently, someone who only gives lots of money and thinks, "well, I give a lot of cash to make up for not being there for anything other than weekly Mass" is missing out as much as someone who says, "I give of my time every day, volunteering and helping out, to make up for the fact I don't want to give away my money."

So, I'm trying to draw that idea out in a series of articles for the parish newsletter. Below is the first, published at the end of May, and will be followed by the second, published at the end of June. There are at least three more in this series, upcoming.

******* Stewardship as a Means of Conversion ***********

There is a brochure available in the bookrack under the bulletin board located near the elevator. It bears the title, Stewardship, Tithing, and Sacrificial Giving: Our Response to the Gifts God Has Given Us. It is ambitious to believe all of those topics could be covered adequately in one brochure, but hopefully you will find the information there to be a useful introduction to those issues.

Over the next few months, I would like to touch on those same ideas here in Voices, starting with the often heard – but sometimes elusive – concept of Stewardship.

The basic premise of Catholic Stewardship is simple: God is the giver of everything we have. He is the source of our abilities, our possessions, and our very life. We are responsible, then, for safeguarding and utilizing those gifts in a way that is pleasing to God. When we do this, we are being stewards of our resources.

The common premise in Stewardship materials is reflected in the phrase, “Talent, Time, and Treasure.” These are the things we have been given by God to manage, and the areas where we are encouraged to give back to the Lord a portion of what he has blessed us with.

But on a deeper level, the “Talent, Time, and Treasure” mantra is specifically focused to address those areas of our lives which subtly and slyly become roadblocks in our Christian development; the areas where we begin to forget our total dependence on God in favor of relying on our own abilities, our own wealth, our own freedom. It is easy to forget – or at least ignore – God’s role in providing us with these things. By giving back from what we have been given, we not only are reminded of the source from which our blessings come, but we demonstrate our respect the Giver.

The call to stewardship, then, is a call to conversion: conversion of our hearts to recognize and honor the gifts of our Creator. As Catholics, we attend Mass at least weekly, pray on a regular basis, and perform works of charity in an effort to tune our individual will to the Divine Will. In a similar manner, stewardship should be a means of Grace through which we strive to be in tune with the Divine Will in the areas which we often find to be barriers to a deeper communion with God: our pride, our possessions, and our personal freedom.

Stewardship is our continual effort to put God first in every area of our life.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


Much to our surprise, they broke ground on our house. Ahead of schedule! Good thing Barry and his crew got the temporary driveway in!

Trenches dug and the concrete footers poured. I kept saying, "once the foundation is started, I'll feel like it is actually happening" and now that is true.

Saturday, July 16, 2005


I am publishing this late, post-dating and all. We closed the mortgage on our new construction and the lot at the end of June. The house will look similar to this, but we added a gable over the game room (where the two windows are together upstairs). The construction timeline calls for starting framing by the second week of August, with a completion date of October 29th. Just in time for Halloween?!?

Anyway, updates as they are available. Hopefully.