Monday, October 13, 2008

Knowing, Loving and Serving Jesus Christ


Stewardship Talk, October 11 & 12, 2008

Knowing, Loving and Serving Jesus Christ
Patricia Arthur, October 10, 2008

 

What I would like to convey in this talk is that stewardship is really all about knowing, loving, and serving Jesus Christ.

As I was preparing for this talk I ran across a document called An Invitation to Help Change the World.  I found that the “Invitation to Stewardship”, is an invitation from Christ.  It is a call to everyone, everywhere to renew the face of the Earth. This is a call to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking of gratitude and responsibility.  Stewardship is not simply making donations or taking care of the building and grounds.  Although it is that, it is much, much deeper, very profound and the rewards are far greater than the sacrifice. It is a spirituality—a way of life—made up of the following four parts:

  • Receiving the gifts of God with gratitude
  • Cultivating them responsibly
  • Sharing them lovingly in justice with others, and
  • Standing before the Lord in a spirit of accountability

It is up to us to determine how we will live out this stewardship way of life.

We should think of God's gifts in broader terms, not simply the material goods or security we may enjoy…but the broader gifts of God are:

  • Our faith, hope, love, and joy
  • Our family love and relationships with others
  • Our time, intelligence, talents, and skills
  • Our imagination, compassion and  vision; and
  • Creation in all its splendor

Our Catholic tradition teaches us at all times in our lives, we have an opportunity—and a responsibility—to share what we have been given.

Stewardship begins with remembering our Baptism, when we became followers of Jesus Christ. Everyone has a calling, which is another way of saying that our walk with God is personal.

I realized it is not by accident that our Archdiocese is having the Parish Vocation Cross Initiative at this particular time. We are all encouraged to consider responding generously to God's call to a priestly or religious vocation, as well as to the sacred single or sacred married life.

As Catholic stewards we are also called to take care of the world around us:

  • We are called to work as partners with God in the redemption of the world.
  • We are called to respect human life and dignity.
  • We are called to protect the natural environment.
  • We are called to share our gifts of time, talent, and treasure with others, and,
  • We are called to communicate our enthusiasm.

When we spend time in prayer and reflection upon Scripture we can recognize our gifts from God. Then we will discover how best to use those gifts for the benefit of others—and of course, invite others to discern and share their gifts, also.

It is an incredible challenge to live in imitation of the life of Christ. We all face obstacles, opportunities, and challenges, living in a fast-paced society with many responsibilities.

Nourished by the Sacraments of Holy Communion and Confession along with our rich Catholic tradition—the door opens for us to actively commit to a life of gratitude and responsibility; to thank God for his endless gifts, and then to decide what we can do to help the world. When we accept God’s call to stewardship we can expect, that He who is the giver off all gifts will not be outdone in generosity.  Through the gift of His grace we can expect to be rewarded by:

  • Making a difference in people's lives
  • Becoming an active member of a fulfilling Catholic community
  • Discovering talents inside us, waiting to be used
  • Letting go of our worries and setting realistic goals in our spiritual, family and work life and,
  • Experiencing the amazing increase in God's presence that comes with a partnership with the Lord

The call to stewardship that I have felt in my own life is a commitment to giving honor and glory to God through pro-life and pro-family ministries and it is a serious business, because life is a serious enterprise that has supernatural and eternal consequences. It is a commitment to respond to the evil of the culture of death that dominates our modern society.

The foundation of all pro-life work is spending time with Jesus in prayer; especially in front of the Blessed Sacrament.  To solidly establish our Gabriel Project Ministry at St Ann’s and St Joseph’s Parishes we began a monthly day of Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, specifically for the Gabriel Project and for an end to abortion and sins committed against life.

The help and support the Gabriel Project offers to women experiencing a difficult pregnancy, provides an opportunity for many of these women to “choose life” for their babies.   Without our emotional, spiritual and material support; many of these women may feel as if they have “no choice” but to seek the services of one of the abortion facilities in the city.  Gabriel Angel volunteers show love and compassion to these women and their babies, whose own families may have abandoned them or may be encouraging them to seek an abortion.

Not long ago we had a weekend to sign-up for 40 Days for Life which is a focused pro-life effort that consists of: 40 days of prayer and fasting, peaceful vigil, and community outreach.  While all aspects of 40 Days for Life are crucial in our effort to end abortion, the most visible component in our community is the peaceful prayer vigil outside the Planned Parenthood facility located at 86th and Georgetown Road.

While Father Glenn and I were at the abortion site Friday, I turned to see a car leaving the facility.  A young man….really a boy, was driving and the girl sitting in the passenger seat was obviously sobbing hysterically.  I could see her arms and upper body sort of flinging around and tears came to my eyes as I shared her pain. 

No talk on Pro-Life would be complete without acknowledging the enormous amount of work that Sister Diane Carollo, S.G.L. does on the Archdiocesan level through the Office for Pro-Life Ministry.  She has a roster of about 50 active volunteers, but needs many, many more to continue her work and add additional programs to the Pro-Life ministry.

The Pro-Life Office is committed to promoting the Gospel of Life in its fullness.  Through evangelization and education contemporary life issues are addressed.  The topics of abortion, embryonic stem cell research, reproductive cloning, capital punishment, euthanasia and end of life issues, are included routinely in communications with individuals, parishes and groups.   Respect Life packets are distributed throughout the archdiocese thereby encouraging year-round education and evangelization in the local parishes.

The Pro-Life Office also conducts outreach to mothers and their infants referred to us for material assistance by social service agencies, hospitals and clinics throughout the city.  Annually, Birthline volunteers serve thousands of poor women and babies by providing material resources.

Another aspect of the Birthline ministry involves outreach to abortion-minded women on the crisis hotline.  Telephone volunteers communicate to pregnant women that human life is sacred, and that the life of the unborn child is precious in God’s sight.  Hundreds of expecting women have been presented with life-giving options on the Birthline hotline in the past six years.

Another significant pastoral outreach of the Pro-Life Office is to women and men suffering from the aftermath of abortion.  Trained volunteers serve as facilitators, spiritual companions, retreat directors and support personnel for Rachel’s Companions, Rachel’s Vineyard Retreats and Rachel’s Network.  These post-abortion ministries focus on reconciliation, healing and peace, in our Catholic tradition.

The Pro-Life Office promotes and schedules the Mass for the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants apostolate which is celebrated at St. Michael’s, the third Saturday of each month. This month on October 18th Father Glenn will be the celebrant.

In January of each year, hundreds of youth from the archdiocese participate in the Rally and

March for Life in Washington, D.C., on the anniversary of Roe Vs. Wade. In the nation’s capital, our youth join tens of thousands of other young people from across the country to peacefullyand prayerfully protest legalized abortion.

Pro-Life seems to be my passion in life, what is yours?  We can all do something…we can all do more.  There are many, many ways we can each give of ourselves and our time.  There are many ministries through which we can serve God by giving of ourselves, whether it be the Prayer Chain, Monthly Adoration, Track Work, Working at the Festival….wherever God’s call leads us.  All we need to do is look around or open our Church Directory to see a list of things to choose from.  We need also to recognize that giving with equal measure of our time and our talent is really just another aspect of the Legacy for Our Mission, it is another part of what we are going to leave for Our Children and the Future.

I’d like to end with a couple of quotes.  Mother Theresa said, “Jesus made it very clear. Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do it to me. “

 And finally Mother Angelica says, “We are all called to be great saints…don’t miss the opportunity.”

 

References used:  An Invitation to Help Change the World, Msgr. William P. Fay, General Secretary, USCCB, (November 12, 2003).

 

 

 

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