As you are all aware, the priests in the diocese recently gathered in Walla Walla for our annual Priest Study Days with the bishop. It is a wonderful opportunity to catch up with brother priests whom we have not seen for a while.
In the course of our time together, a priest friend of mine shared a story regarding one of his nephews. His two year old nephew Jude is beginning to move from saying just one word like “baby”, “monkey” and “daddy” to saying two and three word sentences like “good morning”, “me too” and “I tooted.”
Obviously, it is very cute. In every family, as soon as a toddler begins to string words together, one of the first combinations they learn is “thank you.” It doesn’t come naturally at first. Toddlers are told to express gratitude after they receive something like a cup of juice or a birthday present. We have all heard parents coaching their children to respond to a gift received with those familiar words: “what do you say now?” The expectation, of course, is for a little one to respond: “thank you.”
Our Catholic theology of stewardship reminds us of our own need to say “thank you.” For a good steward, gratitude comes naturally. Gifts from God are recognized and a portion is given back to Him in thanksgiving.
However, for many of us, we need occasional reminders to consciously recognize and take stock of our gifts of time, talent and treasure. That is why the bishop has asked for a special focus on stewardship throughout the Diocese of Spokane. In parishes from Brewster to our very own town of Walla Walla, our Catholic faithful are hearing at Mass messages which remind us to say “thank you” to God for His goodness.
We categorize our gifts in terms of time, talent, and treasure. Today, this final week of our Month of Stewardship in Walla Walla, we are reminded to reflect on our gifts of time and talent so as to make sure we are being generous. We also look to our income and calculate what percent of our treasure we are giving back to God in support of our parish and other charities. The traditional formula we use is 5% to the parish and 5% to all other charities (Annual Catholic Appeal, Catholic Charities, etc.)
My hope is that this time of stewardship will be a good reminder for us to celebrate our individual gifts in a spirit of joy and gratitude. As we reflect on what we have received, may we prayerfully plan out concrete ways to share those gifts with God and His Church.
Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!