Holiness is stewardship’s goal

| March 3, 2011 | 0 Comments

Father Mahan

If you think stewardship is just a fancy way a parish asks for more in the collection basket, Father Daniel Mahan invites you to think again.

“Stewardship is much more important than money, much more valuable than silver or gold,” the priest from Indiana said.

“Holiness is our goal. Stewardship is a practical spirituality that gets us there.”

Stewardship calls people to imitate Jesus in his generous self-giving, he added, “and when we do that we become more Christ-like. We grow in holiness.”

Father Mahan, executive director of the Center for Catholic Stewardship at Marian University in Indianapolis, offered a vision of stewardship as spirituality in his keynote address at the 2011 Archdiocesan Stewardship Conference. More than 250 people from around the archdiocese and neighboring dioceses attended Feb. 26 at Pax Christi in Eden Prairie.

Everyone’s task

To take up “Stewardship as a Way of Life” (the conference theme) and to help build vibrant and engaged parishes and communities, growing in holiness is key, Father Mahan said.

“It’s a day-by-day turning away from sin and turning toward Jesus Christ,” he said.

An aid in doing this could be opening the Bible and meditating on the readings of the day’s Mass. Prayer of that nature has three aims: to be close to the Lord, to be close to the church, and to gain a keen sense of mission, purpose and direction in life.

“It is no accident God has put us here in this place at this time with these people,” he said. “Everyone has a role to play in the building up of the kingdom, and nobody else can do it like you are called to.”

Support from bishops

The bishops of the United States identified four prime elements of stewardship when they wrote a pastoral letter on the subject, Father Mahan said.

  • Gratitude — A steward knows everything is from the Lord, so is grateful. Father Mahan noted, “You cannot be both grateful and unhappy at the same time.”
  • Responsibility — A steward takes care of God’s blessings.
  • Generosity — It is very natural to hold on to God’s gifts exactly the way God wants us to: loosely.
  • To return with increase — As in the Gospel parable of the master who gave money to his servants and returned expecting that they would have grown that investment, there will come a day when each of us will have to render an account to God, Father Mahan said. God will ask: “What did you do with your life? With your time, your talent and your opportunities? What did you do with all that money that passed through your hands?”

Good for the world
Building on the bishops’ points, Father Mahan said that when stewardship is taught and learned, people attain a greater sense of living out one’s mission in the world.

“Stewardship is about your parish, but it’s more,” he said. The primary place lay Christians are to witness to their faith, to make a difference, is out beyond the doors of the church, beginning with the family and extending to the workplace, the school, the community and the world.

“Wherever you have influence in the world, you are called to do what cannot be done by anyone else, to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ into the world,” he said.

“Stewardship is not just something good for our parishes,” Father Mahan added. “Stewardship is something that will transform the world. Through stewardship, the face of Jesus will shine forth in the world.”

Because stewards are the living body and blood of Jesus out in the world, stewardship is a eucharistic spirituality, Father Mahan said.

Having been nourished at the eucharistic table, he said, pointing to the altar in the worship space at Pax Christi, “Take what you have received and be a great steward in your words, deeds and works of mercy.”

Archbishop supports stewardship

Archbishop John Nienstedt welcomed attendees at the Archdiocesan Stewardship Conference and led the morning’s prayer.

Those who practice stewardship “have a keen sense of what it means to give back to God,” he told the gathering.

“A good steward knows that he or she is not the owner, user or exploiter of the resources entrusted to his or her care,” but that God’s gifts are to “be used in service of all God’s children.”

All have an innate spiritual desire to give of ourselves, the archbishop noted.

“You are called to be leaven in your home parishes and in your local communities.”


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