Seek spiritual benefits this Christmas!

When a tailor makes and sells a garment, only one service is performed, that of putting clothes on the body. The same is true of the cobbler making and selling a pair of shoes; the only service in this case is to put shoes on the feet. But when a person makes a gift to another person, of money or some object, a double service is performed. First, the receiver derives a material benefit from the gift. Second, the giver derives a spiritual benefit because this act of generosity would have brought a blessing to his soul. And there can be a third service: if the receiver is filled with humble gratitude, that will be a blessing to the person’s soul. Imagine a society in which no one sold anything but everyone shared freely their skills and wealth. Then every action in that society would bring not only material benefits, but spiritual benefits also. Such societies already exist in miniature; families operate in this way. How wonderful it would be if villages and towns could become like large families. Then Heaven would come down to earth.

St John Chrysostom

Have a blessed Christmas and allow Stewardship to bring Heaven to earth!

 

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Where is our emphasis?

Luke 12:16-21 – something to reflect upon in our daily life!

Having spoken the parable about the man who became rich and planned to just eat, drink and be merry, and for this was struck with death, not remaining alive for the supposed pleasures, the Lord concluded: So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. “So”—that is, such occurs, or such a lot befalls both these and others. Those who become rich and forget about God only think about pleasures of the flesh. Let those who desire to avoid this bitter lot “lay up” not “unto themselves, but be rich only toward God.” Since riches come from God, then devote them to God when they flow, and holy riches will come of it. Divide all surplus with the needy: this will be the same as returning to God what was given by God. He who gives to a poor person gives to God. Seemingly exhausting his riches, such a person becomes truly rich—rich through good deeds, rich for God. In pleasing Him he becomes rich in God, and by attracting His good will, he becomes rich from God, Who makes one who is faithful over a few things, ruler over many things. He becomes rich toward God, and not toward himself, for he does not consider himself to be master of the house, but only a steward and accountant, whose entire concern consists of satisfying all who come to him in need. But he fears spending anything in particular on himself, considering it to be an improper usage of property entrusted to him.   St. Theophan the Recluse

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The Stewardship of our Labor

He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth. It turns out that one can labour an entire age and think that all sorts of good is gathered, but it is all for nothing, if it was not gathered with the Lord. What does it mean to gather with the Lord? To labour and act according to faith in the Lord, according to His commandments, with the help of His grace, being inspired by His promises—to live so that the spirit of life is the spirit of Christ.

Reflect on this in terms of your Stewardship of Labor-how do you conduct yourself with your daily work? Are you faithful? Do you act as if God is watching you? Do you feel accountable for how you use your time? Are there opportunities to help those in need? All of our “work” whether it is how we make our living or as Stewards of our Church will be judged based on gathering or scattering!

It is clear that he who gathers not with the Lord will not gather truth and goodness, he will not gather what could be called a true possession, which is lasting and valuable. No matter what such a person gathers, it all has no use, all is labour in vain, a vain waste of energy and time.

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Free from worldly things?

 

The parable about the steward shows how a Christian should behave with relation to worldly things. A steward diligently does his work, but in his heart he is not attached to anything, he is free from all bonds, he relates to everything outwardly. So also must a Christian be in relation to all worldly things. But is this possible? It is possible. As there exists outward piety without inner piety, so worldliness which is only outward is possible without inner bonds. But in such a case, will everything around us turn into a single lifeless form, emitting coldness like a marble statue? No; in the midst of worldly things another life will develop which is more attractive than the fullest worldliness. Worldly things, being worldly things, truly will remain as the form, while that which warms the heart will start to proceed from another source, and whosoever drinketh from this source will no longer thirst. But then, is it better to drop everything? Why? Even one who outwardly drops everything can still be attached in his heart, and one who does not outwardly drop everything can be free from bonds. Of course it is more convenient for one who outwardly renounces everything to control his heart. Choose what is more convenient for you; just be disposed as the Lord commands.

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Good advice to start your day – the Stewardship of prayer!

In the morning, rising up a great while before day, He went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. Here is a lesson to get up early and devote the first hours of the day to prayer, in solitude. The soul, renewed with sleep, is fresh, light and capable of penetration, like fresh morning air; therefore it asks on its own to be allowed to go where all of its joy is found, to go before the face of the heavenly Father, to the company of the angels and saints. It is more convenient for the soul to pray at this time instead of later when the cares of the day already are piled upon the soul. The Lord orders everything. You must receive a blessing from Him for work, for needed understanding, and for crucial strengthening. And hurry as early as possible, before anything interferes, to lift yourself in solitude to the Lord in mind and heart, and to confess your needs and intentions to Him, and to beg for His help. Having disposed yourself with prayer and thoughts of God, from the first moments of the day, you will then conduct the whole day in reverence and fear of God, with collected thoughts. From this come discretion, steadiness, and harmony in deeds and mutual relations. This is a reward for the labour which you compel yourself to undertake in your morning solitude. Thus, even for worldly people this makes good sense, and is not something alien to their goals.

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Reflection from St. John Chrysostom…

I have often said that almsgiving has been introduced not for the sake of the receivers, but of the givers, for the latter make the greatest gain.

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Fall is upon us (already!!!)

goodworks-101-icon-300-150x150Fall 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.

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