Fall is an exciting time for children and a wonderful opportunity to include Stewardship in discussions with them. Whether they are in primary schools or in college, it is important to provide them with an understanding of Stewardship as well as to set an example as parents. The greatest benefit is that as they grow older, the ministry of Stewardship will be a constant in their lives and as they understand that everything they have is provided through God’s grace (even the oxygen they breathe) – it is important that they give of their Time, Talents and Treasures. This is a requirement from God and a necessity for our salvation. Many schools have now included community service within the curriculum. As you plan your children’s calendar and activities, Stewardship should be included as well. Consider:
- Projects with the parish
- Community events that help the poor
- Soup kitchens that feed the hungry
- Shopping for a food pantry or delivering a Thanksgiving meal to a family
- Toys for Tots programs during Christmas
As we progress in our faith, we are all called to “imitate Christ” through our actions. One very important practice is how we manage our Time, Talents and Treasures as we will be held accountable for what God has provided.
Reflect on Matthew 25:14-30
It will be given to him who already has and he shall be abound, for everyone who has the gift of charity receives other gifts besides. But he who has not the gift of charity will lose even those gifts which he seemed to have. So it is necessary, brethren, that charity should be the motive of all of your actions. No idler is completely deprived of talent. One receives the gift of intelligence. The other receives worldly wealth. Another, the craft with which he earns his livelihood. A fourth, the friendship of a rich man.
St. Gregory the Great
Watch therefore, for you know not the hour your Lord is coming (Matthew 24:42)
Our daily lives require so much preparation – setting our alarms, getting ready for work, stopping for coffee, helping the children before the school bus arrives… once we are at work, there are various processes/rituals we exercise to prepare for business success. The question is – do we think of and prepare for success with our Salvation? Stewardship focuses on our use of Time, Talents and Treasures – this is how we will be judged. St. Theophan the Recluse also reflects on our preparation for Judgment Day. “To be vigilant does not mean to sit with your arms folded but rather to keep in mind that the Lord will come suddenly and so to behave and conduct your affairs so as to be ready to meet Him at any instant not fearing reproach and condemnation. How is one to do this? Very simply. Walk in the commandments without breaking a single one and if you happen to break one, immediately cleanse yourself through repentance and by fulfilling what needs to be done.”
When asked about the poor… St. Theophan the Recluse reflected:
Let’s take an example: A beggar comes up to you; it is God who brought him. What should you do? You must help him. God has brought the beggar, of course, desiring you to act towards this beggar in a manner pleasing to Him, and He watches to see what you will actually do …If you do what is pleasing to God, you will be taking a step toward the ultimate goal, the inheritance of Heaven.
With the fall season a few weeks away, consider ways that you can help those in need.
When you fail to do it out of mercy, but do it from parade instead, such a deed not only does not qualify as alms but is even an insult. For you have put your brother to open shame. Not giving money then, but giving out of mercy is almsgiving.
St. John Chrysostom
To minister is defined as “giving service, care, or aid; attending as to wants or necessities.” St. Theophan the Recluse reflects: Do you want to be first? Be of service to everyone, that is, be the last among them. The Lord ministered and even washed the feet of His Disciples. There is no need, therefore, to be ashamed of ministering to someone. Minister in any way possible and with whatever means you can. Serve not only the body (i.e. food, clothing and shelter) but also the soul; give understanding and advice, point out a good book, console and support.
Make a big difference even in very small ways!