Catholic Stewardship – A Reflection
Catholic Stewardship is a way of life. Stewardship is best understood within the context of the conversion process, the turning away from self-centeredness to the recognition that God is the loving Creator and source of everything in our lives. This conversion process transforms our fundamental perspective of life – we move from owners of what we have, to trustees/stewards of the unconditional and loving gifts that have come from God. With this perspective, a steward recognizes that everything comes from God, develops what has been given, shares it in a loving and just way, and increases what God entrusts to her/him according to the will of God.
Stewardship is counter-cultural and challenges the secular philosophy that all we have gives us value, and is solely ours. Instead, we are endowed with dignity because of an intimate relationship with God and because all our time, talent, treasure and assets are His gifts to us. We use these gifts to become co-creators and protectors of all life, live out our God-given vocation, and strengthen and preserve the Church at all levels, domestic, parish, diocese and universal, now and into the future.
As committed disciples of our triune God, we constantly seek to ask ourselves the same question that the psalmist struggled to answer, “How do I make a return to the Lord for all the good he has done for me?” (Psalm 116:12) Our response progressively takes on a radical conversion and turning over all of our life as an offering to God in gratitude and love.
In the Old Testament one manifestation of this response to God was the tithe – the unconditional sharing of 10% from the first fruits of their labor. In current Catholic thinking, stewardship gift giving principles are offered to the committed disciple to prayerfully consider adopting. The steward gives his gifts:
a) as our desire to express gratitude and love “to God for all the good he has done for us”;
b) as a sacrifice: to do without something so we can ask that our gifts of time, talent, treasure and assets be made holy and used for God’s work;
c) in proportion to what we have received – a guideline of 5% of one’s time, talent, treasure and assets for one’s parish, 1% to the diocese, and 4% to the universal church and other worthy causes is encouraged;
d) from our “first fruits” of our time, talent, treasure and assets before other responsibilities are met, and in an unconditional way without any strings attached; and
e) in an accountable manner – when we make a pledge of our time, talent, treasure, and assets we fulfill that promise.
For our stewardship of time and talent gifts, commit a time each day for prayer. When our parish conducts a time and talent appeal, prayerfully consider making a commitment to one ministry. There are also many ways to volunteer your time and talent with community, state and national organizations that seek the common good.
To support our parish, diocesan, universal church ministries and worthy causes financially, we focus on the stewardship of treasure.
Five Principles for Giving
Modern Interpretation of the Biblical Tithe
As a symbol of my total commitment to Christ, I give back to God:
- In thanksgiving and gratitude for all that God has given to me
- As a sacrifice – both meanings of the word
- to make something holy
- to do without something – to reorder my priorities
- In a planned way – my gift comes from my first fruits – off the top
- In proportion to what I have received – a tithe of my time, talent, treasure and assets
- 5% to my parish
- 1% to my diocese
- 4% to other worthy charities, i.e., Universal Church ministries, United Way, college, community and/or international charities.
- Wrapped in my Sunday envelope
- I unconditionally give my gift – no strings attached
- For my Sunday offering, I use the envelope provided to wrap my gift as an example to others of my commitment.
For other charities, as I send it, I dedicate my gift to God for His use through these groups.