The Office of Stewardship
Jesus Will Always Come Only In the Measure to Which He Is Invited
Recently, I received this short note from Fr. Michel Mulloy, the Director of Worship, for our Diocese:
I am looking at the Norms for the Distribution of communion under both forms… I found this statement which is a beautiful way of talking about Stewardship in the context of the Eucharist.
(The priest) receives gifts of bread and wine from the faithful, offers the sacrifice to God and returns to them the very Body and Blood of Christ, as from the hands of Christ himself. #26
I read this and thought of …receiving gifts from God ….using them (sacrificing) with generosity …giving them back with an increase
As I remember, this is the language of the Stewardship document.”
Fr. Mike is correct. The Bishop’s pastoral letter on stewardship defines the Christian steward as one who, “receives God’s gifts gratefully, cultivates them responsibly, shares them lovingly in justice with others and returns them with increase to the Lord.” Stewardship and our celebration of the Eucharist are intimately tied.
A Disciple’s Response asks: “What do Christians bring to the Eucharistic celebration and join there with Jesus’ offering? Their lives as Christian disciples; their personal vocations and the stewardship they have exercised regarding them; their individual contributions to the great work of restoring all things in Christ.”
We are called to offer, along with the bread and wine, our very lives to God.
One priest encourages us, “As the priest is setting up the chalice, simply think or pray onto that altar every part of your life: every hope, every dream, every disappointment, every friend, every family member, every enemy, every act of love, every betrayal, every son, every daughter, every neighbor, everyone in prison, every Christian in Syria, everyone in ISIS, everyone working on Sundays, everyone who cut you off in traffic, everyone you learned about on the news, every circumstance at work, every medical problem, every financial problem, every mission, every marriage, every upcoming dentist appointment, every fearful anticipation, every hopeful anticipation, every physical suffering, every psychological suffering, everything you have, everything you are, everything you’re called to be, everyone you want to follow Christ. Think big.”
Catalina, a visionary from Mexico has said that our Guardian Angel carries our offerings and petitions before the Altar of the Lord. She reports that she has been told to, “Offer yourselves at this moment; offer your sorrows, your pains, your hopes, your sadness, your joys, your petitions. Remember that the Mass has infinite value. Therefore, be generous in offering and in asking.”
Many years ago, someone counseled me to see in the drop of water that the priest adds to the wine my petitions, my needs and concerns, indeed my whole life offered to God. St. Cyprian said, “The water is understood as the people while the wine shows forth the blood of Christ. When the water is mingled in the cup with wine, the people are united with Christ . . . . Once the water and wine are mingled in the Lord’s cup, the mixture cannot anymore be separated.” Author Mike Aquilina notes, “there is something exact about the symbol: Christ is the wine; we are the bit of water. The main part of the sacrament is Christ really present, but communion does not happen without our willing participation.”
Lastly, our financial contributions serve as our sacrificial prayer offered to the Lord. Tony Brandt of Casting Nets ministries shared with us, “this check is our sacrifice. This check, this sacrifice is my spiritual worship. It is my worship. In the memo line, I put who I am offering this up for. . . This is not a bill to be paid, but instead is an offering to God. This check, my tithe, says, ‘Lord I love you more than money.’ I add a name to the memo line and then I say, ‘Please bless my mother who is sick, please bless my son who is away from the church’ . . . whatever it is that you are praying for. This is my prayer.”
St Irenaeus said, “Our way of thinking is attuned to the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn confirms our way of thinking.” The Eucharist is at the center of our lives as faithful Catholics, and our stewardship, along with everything else flows from this, the Source and the Summit of our faith. If we give of ourselves generously in the Mass, we will receive from Him generously. God desires to be one with us, to fill us with His life and love; but he will always come only in the measure to which he is invited. This week, let’s be both intentional and generous!
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