The coronavirus pandemic has changed our lives. With directives to stay at home to help mitigate the spread of the virus, many of us are working from home and helping our children with their schoolwork. Some of us have become unemployed. Public celebrations of Masses have been canceled. Our social calendars have been wiped clean.
It might be difficult to think about giving right now, especially for those who have lost income. It’s important in times like these to remember that any donation we give — to our parish or a charitable organization, for example — is needed now more than ever. But most importantly, it must be a gift of self.
Dave Baranowski, director of stewardship education for the archdiocese, explained that “when we’re offering ourselves, it changes the whole perspective and gets people thinking about it differently.”
“It’s like the transformation of the mustard seed. If we can offer all of our own trials, tribulations, joys and triumphs, hopefully, it opens our hearts to receive the Holy Spirit. If we’re giving (a financial gift) in union with Jesus, this allows us to open our hearts and make room for the Holy Spirit to operate in our lives.”
Being good stewards means recognizing that everything we have, and everything we are, are gifts from God. We must be grateful and generous with those gifts. Stewardship is a lifestyle rooted in gratitude and generosity and helps us strengthen our relationship to God. It means putting complete trust in God, in all things.
In Lent, we are called to pray, fast and give. Because of a pandemic many of us now are going without trips to the local coffee shop or lunch at a restaurant. This is a good call to offer those expenses as donations to our parishes, which are financially impacted, too. They need our continued support. Many participate in online giving programs, so while we’re learning to work and learn remotely, we can learn to give digitally.
Agencies that help some of the most vulnerable in our society also are facing hardships, too. We need to continue to support ministries like Catholic Charities of St. Louis, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Sts. Joachim and Ann Care Service, and the Annual Catholic Appeal.
Gifts in difficult times help those who are most impacted. St. Patrick Center CEO Anthony D’Agostino said, “Access to adequate housing, health care and other essential services has dwindled in a system overwhelmed by this changing pandemic. At a time when vulnerable populations need our help the most, we are instructed to distance ourselves and become more inclined to hoard resources.”
In Mark’s Gospel, we read about the generosity of a poor widow. As a crowd gave their rich offerings, the poor woman put in a few coins. Jesus told the crowd, “she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.”
Now is the time to consider what’s most important. If you are in a position to help, consider making a sacrificial gift. In doing so, we are reminded to unite our giving with Jesus. And in doing so, we open our minds and hearts to the working of the Holy Spirit.