Stewardship – THE FOUR PILLARS OF PARISH STEWARDSHIP
Stewardship is a grateful response to God’s Love!
As the United States Bishops wrote in their pastoral letter, stewardship is the response of the disciple to God’s unconditional love for us. Stewards bask in the wonder and awe of God’s love. The more deeply one grows in love for God, the more one grows in heart to see stewardship as a way of life, a way of love, imitating God’s love for us. Stewards see everything good as gifts received from God and they respond in gratitude with the gift of self.
The sacrament of baptism calls Christians to a lifelong vocation of discipleship as children of God made in his image and likeness. As recipients of God’s loving grace, our hearts leap with gratitude. “How can I repay the Lord for all the good He has done for me?” (Psalm 116:12).
To imitate the love of Jesus Christ is a most challenging task. In our human nature, this is not possible. Yet, we have not first loved God. God has first loved us. This call to love is not just a feeling of love, but rather, it is a decision to love. “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (I Corinthians 13:7). “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 14: 34-35). Stewardship is a conversion journey of receiving God’s love and returning love to Him. A conversion requires prayer, reflection and time to allow God to show us who we are, and the person of love that we can become.
In the deepening conversion of love, the steward learns to give of self through time, talent and treasure, not out of obligation and duty, but out of sincere desire. The steward recognizes within the very nature of the human person, an inherent need to give. For the steward, this way of life and giving of love becomes as natural as breathing itself.
The four pillars of hospitality, prayer, formation and service invite parishioners to experience, witness and live the stewardship way of life in response to their baptismal call to discipleship. Individually, each baptized person is called to give of time, talent and treasure to strengthen these four pillars that support the parish community. Conversely, by making our parishes places of hospitality, prayer, formation and service, we provide greater opportunities for the sharing of time, talent and treasure.
Individual parishioners are better able to commit generously and sacrificially their gifts of time, talent and treasure to support the parish mission when hospitality, prayer, formation and service are vibrant within the parish life.
As a parish embraces stewardship as a way of life, the members of the stewardship parish recognize their responsibility not only to their own parish, but also to the community, the diocese, and the Universal Church. Strengthening the pillars of hospitality, prayer, formation and service make us faithful disciples to the love given us freely by our loving God. As faithful stewards, our only response to these gifts received is gratitude. Living stewardship is a disciple’s response to our God, who has given us everything that is good!.