In preparation for the Season of Stewardship this fall, let’s reflect on stewardship as a way of life. The four pillars: Prayer, Formation, Hospitality, and Service create the framework and model for our Parish mission. We support prayer through offering daily Mass, Confessions, regular Adoration hours, and celebrating the Eucharist together each weekend. We support formation through our adult faith formation series, welcoming not only Cathedral parishioners, but guests from throughout the Diocese. We offer hospitality through our Alpha series, from welcoming our guests to providing a home-cooked meal. We share in service through the year-long efforts of ministries like the Cathedral Council of Catholic Women or the Knights of Columbus, Father Augustine Tolton Council. In so many ways the Cathedral is supporting the four pillars of stewardship to help in answering the call to discipleship.
What does that calling look like for you? When the offertory takes place at Mass are you only concerned about an envelope or something deeper? The Offertory is a time for prayerful discernment on one’s commitment to a stewardship way of life. Ask yourself these three questions:
- Who can I pray for this week?
- How can I serve this week?
- What can I generously give this week?
Most importantly…why does this matter or what is the value of stewardship? I think that is a fair question to ask. In today’s culture we are always seeking answers, validation, or reasoning behind where we spend our time and money. For example, recently the most common question about the REBOOT event is the ticket price; “Well, what do I get?” It is common to seek the value in something. However, value is really in the eye of the beholder. What one person might see as value added, might be lost on another. At the REBOOT event each person will have the opportunity to leave with three books, resources, and more swag. That might be valuable to some, while others would find Chris Stefanick’s inspirational words the real value. How about the value in time? Ultimately, if you join us at REBOOT, or when you join us for a faith formation program, or if you join us for Mass…you are saying it is worth your time. Time is not renewable. We never get it back and that is why it is so valuable. Where and with whom you spend your time is often a reflection of what you value.
So, where do you spend your time? When we learn about individual stewardship we commonly hear the phrases, “time, talent and treasure” or “prayer, service, and giving” used. Why is “time” and “prayer” listed first every time in the sequence? Because your time with God is the most important. It is fundamental in a stewards life. It is ultimately the most important relationship we should be nurturing with our time. Spending time at a faith formation event is time with God. Spending time serving with a ministry is time with God. Spending time in our sacred space at Adoration or Mass is spending time with God. It is the source and spirit behind all activities of steward. It is rare I come in contact with someone who has an active faith life, but doesn’t contribute their service or gifts to the church.
I remember one Sunday while I was staying after Mass and doing the “Catholic loitering” thing, I noticed my daughter across the room staring at the Crucifix in the Cathedral Atrium. Now, if you have met my daughter you would quickly agree that she is a high-energy gal (geez, I wonder where she gets that from!) and doesn’t always stand still. But, as she was standing there fixed upon the Crucifix, she stood still…for 30 seconds…a minute…now, two minutes in…and I am curious. I approach her and said, “Gracey, everything okay?” She responded, “Why would anyone hurt Jesus?” At that moment, I stood still, frozen in place and time. In that moment I realized that these God-sized questions were going to be coming my way as a mother. Some I would be able to answer easily, some would be far more difficult. How does one prepare for these questions? Easy. It takes God-sized time with Him in order to answer the God sized questions. The time I set aside in my daily routine for God, is a positive return on my relationships as a mom, wife, friend, sister, daughter. If I truly care for these relationships, I would need to consider the importance of nurturing my relationship with God. He is the source and summit that flows through me and into all of these other relationships I value.
Consider where you spend your time this week. How can we support you in finding time to pray? How can we help you in your prayer life?
Katie Price is the stewardship coordinator for the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and the Director of Discipleship and Stewardship for the Diocese of Illinois.