Stewardship: How Much Should I Give?
We have come again to that time of the year when we make our pledge for the Annual Catholic Appeal. Your wonderful generosity in past years has eliminated the debt we incurred in “Saving the Dome,” operating the parish, and helping our school reach sustainable excellence. Last year’s campaign helped us add substantially to our building fund for future restoration of the façade and north tower, which will include new bathrooms. Thank you for your sacrifices—great and small—and may God reward your generosity.
Now it is time to give back. This year we wish to direct the parish portion of the Annual Catholic Appeal to the Fr. Hilary Mahaney Scholarship Fund. This will help large or financially struggling families give their children an excellent Catholic education.
Each one of us needs to grow in our own relationship with God. This not only means growing in our life of prayer and self-denial, but in orienting our whole being and all that we have toward God. This is why stewardship is so important. As we, out of love for God, generously sacrifice our time in prayer and service, our comfort and pleasure in self-denial, and our possession in sacrificial giving we not only show God that he is first in our lives, we also grow in our love for and union with God, which confers both a great inner joy and peace that is priceless.
So, God wants each of us to cooperate with his mission. Objectively he doesn’t need us. God could “snap his fingers” and give us all the resources we need. But he doesn’t do so. He wants our cooperation. Think of our Lord’s reaction to the widow who brought her two pennies to donate to the Temple: the Temple authorities laughed at her for he objectively insignificance of her gift, but Christ blesses her for her generosity. Likewise, our Lord asks for food to feed the crowds, and the apostles gave him all they have—five loaves of bread and two fish. Yet it is enough to feed the multitudes.
In considering your pledge for the coming year—how much should I give?—think about God and our commitment to him. Should I spend more money on myself and on non-necessities than on my Love? How much money will I spend on entertainment (movies, cable or satellite TV programming, etc.) and non-essentials (vacations, new car, etc.) in this coming year? Perhaps I can I give an equivalent amount to God (or a little bit more) rather than spend so much on myself.
This kind of giving will certainly “hurt” and it takes faith. If family members or colleagues hear of this they will probably consider us “crazy.” But we should live our lives to please God, not our family members or colleague—“He who loves father or mother… son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37). In fact, we should live our lives for Christ and not for ourselves. In doing so, we gain HIM! Isn’t that a bargain?
No one can decide for you what amount to pledge. Reflect on this in your prayer. If you are married—as your resources are in common—discuss this with your spouse and encourage him or her to pray about it. Perhaps you wish to encourage generosity in your children, they as them what sacrifices we can offer our Lord as a sign of our love.
In this way our parish, our families, and our parishioners will grow spiritually and we will accomplish better the mission God’s is sharing with us.
Fr. John R. Waiss
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