Good Steward Newsletter – November 2003

Basic Principles of Christian Stewardship as Reflected in the Theological and Pastoral Vision of Pope John Paul II

  1. God is the creator and giver of all things. We are called to be co-creators (stewards).
    • Human beings are not meant to be isolated or alone.
    • We are called to communion with God and with all our sisters and brothers in the family of God.
    • The Creator has given us “dominion over all creation;” this stewardship responsibility is not something arbitrary, but is intended to be faithful to God’s plan.
    • According to Pope John Paul II, “The relationship of man and woman to the rest of creation is one of responsible stewardship.”
  2. Jesus Christ has personally invited each of us to be his disciple. Stewardship is our response to the Lord’s invitation to follow Him without counting the cost.
    • Jesus is the answer to our longing/spiritual hunger/ restlessness.
    • Jesus’ call is radical and all-inclusive (“Go sell what you have, give it to the poor, and come follow me”).
    • Discipleship means giving all. Stewardship shows us how to live as disciples in this culture.
    • According to Pope John Paul II, “At the heart of every culture lies the attitude a person takes to the greatest mystery, the mystery of God.”
  3. As Christian stewards, we are responsible for carrying on the ministry of Christ in the world today.
    • We are members of the family of God – unique individuals with our own personalities, gifts and talents but called to communion with God and one another.
    • As members of the Body of Christ, the Church, we are responsible for the world in which we live. We are to be Christ’s hands and legs and mouth and heart.
    • According to the U.S. Bishops’ pastoral letter, stewardship is a mature form of discipleship. Eucharistic stewardship is caring for the Body of Christ, the Church.
    • According to Pope John Paul II, “The Church renders a profound service to human society by preaching the truth about the creation of the world, which God has placed in human hands so that people may make it fruitful and make it perfect through their work.”
  4. Christian stewardship is a way of life that is profoundly counter-cultural.
    • Our culture too often exalts attitudes and behaviors that contradict the Gospel.
    • Individualism, self-gratification, materialism and consumerism are actively promoted by our culture.
    • The achievements of technology and culture take on a life of their own – dehumanizing individuals and communities.
    • According to Pope John Paul II, “The menace of consumerism ensnares people in a web of false and superficial gratifications rather than helping them express their personhood in an authentic way. Advertising and aggressive marketing, intent upon profits, create artificial human needs that hinder the formation of a mature personality. People lose themselves in the quest for affluence, luxury, amusement and sensory pleasures, neglecting the quest for truth, beauty, goodness and communion with others. In this way, people are alienated from their deepest selves, from their fellow human beings and from God, their final destiny.”
  5. Gratitude is the soul of stewardship. Mary, the first disciple, is a model of Christian stewardship.
    • The solution to our alienation, anxiety and unhappiness is to be grateful for what we have as opposed to coveting what our neighbor has.
    • Awareness of God’s abundant blessings changes our whole attitude toward life. The ability to say thank you brings healing and hope.
    • The primary task of stewardship education is to help people recognize their gifts with a grateful heart so that they can cultivate them responsibly and share them generously with others.
    • There is an old Egyptian saying: If your heart is full of love, you always have something to give.
    • The motto of Pope John Paul II, “Totus Tuus” (Totally Yours) is taken from the Marian prayer of St. Louis deMontfort. “I am totally yours, and all that I possess is yours. I accept you in all that is mine. Give me your heart, O Mary, a heart full of thanks.”
  6. Generosity breaks through barriers and opens doors. Stewards are called to move beyond loneliness to loving communion with God and others.
    • In Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” Ebenezer Scrooge is the anti-steward: What I have is mine, not yours. Leave me alone. Don’t ask me to give or share. Send the poor to debtor’s prisons. Don’t celebrate Christmas or family or good fellowship. I don’t need anyone else. I can take care of myself.
    • A miser is someone who cannot give or share, and someone who can’t share can’t celebrate. Selfishness is the way to misery; generosity is the way to joy.
    • According to Pope John Paul II, “God created human beings not as isolated individuals but as social beings destined to live in communion with God and others.”
    • Jesus Christ is the model steward. He gave himself totally on the cross. He gives himself to us daily in the Eucharist.
    • According to Pope John Paul II, “Every person is both a free individual valued and loved by God for his/her own sake, and at the same time a being turned toward others. We become most truly human in the measure that we go out of ourselves and give ourselves for the sake of others.”
  7. Accountability is essential to understanding and practicing stewardship as a way of life.
    • In the Gospels, Jesus tells us (in no uncertain terms) that we will be held accountable for the gifts and talents God has given us. How have we developed and used God’s gifts? Have we wasted our time? Misused our talents? Failed to grow? Refused to share? Or have we been grateful, responsible, generous and productive in our stewardship of all God’s gifts – material and spiritual?
    • None of us is as grateful, responsible or generous as we should be, as we are called to be as disciples of Christ and members of the family of God. So should we fear the day of judgment? Should we hesitate to render an account of our stewardship?
    • From the first moment of his pontificate 25 years ago, Pope John Paul II has reminded us forcefully of the risen Lord’s words to his disciples: “Be not afraid.”
    • According to Pope John Paul II, “God who is love, judges through love. It is a love that demands purification and accountability, but it is also a love that is rich in mercy and forgiveness.”
Copyright © 2003, Daniel Conway

Permission is given to copy and distribute this Good Steward Newsletter for use in religious or educational settings provided that proper attribution is given to the author. This publication may not be sold or distributed to the general public without the express permission of the author.

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