On Sunday, Sept. 25, the Archdiocese of St. Louis will celebrate the 22nd Stewardship Awareness Sunday! This year’s theme is “Stewardship is a New Beginning.”
Stewardship is our invitation to deepen our prayer lives, participate more directly in the life of the Church and exercise generosity in all aspects of our lives. An intentional response to this invitation, with a spirit of gratitude and generosity, leads us to experience ongoing renewal and a deepening of our relationship with God, reminding us that all good things come from Him. Each invitation is a new beginning, an opportunity to draw closer to Him.
Intentional stewardship is rooted in prayer. Everything we have in life is a gift from God. Recognizing these gifts each day helps us grow in faith. Thanking God daily for even the smallest blessings opens us to a new appreciation of how God is present and active in our lives, and that He wants to be in relationship with each of us individually. Being grateful for all that we have been given leads to a lifestyle of endless prayer. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
An intentional steward is committed to joyful participation. Everyone has been given charisms — gifts from the Holy Spirit. These charisms need to be nurtured to fulfill Christ’s mission. Each of us has a responsibility to discover and develop our charisms to build God’s kingdom. When living our charisms, God provides a supernatural peace and joy that is attractive to others — they want what we have! Stewardship becomes our joyful witness of Christ’s love. “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?’ ‘Here I am,’ I said, ‘Send me!’” (Isaiah 6:8).
An intentional steward is called to be generous. The greatest gift God gave us was His son, Jesus — God’s “first fruits.” We are also called to give the first and best of our gifts. We are called to trust in God’s providence believing that He will provide all that we need. When we are generous with all our gifts, including our money, we show that we are putting God first in our lives, in all things. Our trust in God is the fruit of our humility — recognizing our dependence on God. Giving generously with an open heart and mind shows that we are obedient to God’s will in our lives. “For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be” (Matthew 6:21).
In the beginning, we were created in God’s image. At the end, we strive to live eternally with God in heaven. Today, we must humbly open our hearts and live the life we were made for. Stewardship is this new beginning. We were made for more. We were made for God!
Baranowski is the director of stewardship education in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. He and his wife are parishioners at Mary, Mother of the Church in south St. Louis County.