The Graciousness of Mary

Posted on August 15, 2017 by - Everyday Stewardship

An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for the Feast of the Assumption

Assumption of MaryAn everyday steward is called to be gracious. I read once that to be a gracious person meant to walk softly, speak with intent, and to leave those you have met feeling that their lives were better that day because they encountered you. What a way to live!

But alas, living like that each and every day is so very hard. I hate to think that some times people I have encountered are happy to see me go, but I know that it is true. As Christians we are graced people, but on some days, that grace can seem pretty hidden.

If you are looking for an example of gracious living look no further than Our Lady. She answered the call regardless of the cost and she lived her life with a great dignity in the face of horrible trials. She was a gracious host to the Incarnation in her womb and she continues to invite us to get to know her son better. She certainly embodies the definition of gracious living above.

We are called to always be ready and open to the call of her son. He will bring us to those in need, seeking light in a world of darkness. Our hope must be then that after our encounter with another, they will feel enriched by our presence. Of course, we will know, like Our Lady knew before us, that it wasn’t about us at all. It was about the Jesus in us meeting the Jesus in them.

The Real Possibility of Holiness

Posted on August 13, 2017 by - Everyday Stewardship

An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

holinessI remember when all three of my children were learning to swim. In the beginning, it seemed like no matter how much assurance I gave them, they were certain they would drown. Even after watching me float in the water, they were pretty sure their bodies were created to sink. In time, they grew more comfortable in the water. Eventually, they could even swim the length of the pool. But this did not happen overnight. They had to grow in their faith that swimming was possible, not just for others, but for them as well.

Too many of us who are Christians believe that holiness is for someone else. We believe that the stories of the saints are about super humans who had something in greater supply than us. When our faith is weak, we assume that we can never have the faith of these holy men and women.

On the contrary, faith and holiness are not things only possible for a few. But we must practice our faith to grow in our faith. We must strive for holiness if we are to become holy.

Like a child fears the water before learning to swim, we often fear the path that leads to greater faith or holiness. We are not convinced that God can work in our lives to create a saint. Yet except for Mary, the Immaculate Conception, every saint was a sinner. God called every saint to exit the boat and walk toward Jesus on the water. In time, with practice and trust in God, they found they did not sink either.

Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS

 

Glimpse of Heaven

Posted on August 6, 2017 by - Everyday Stewardship

An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for the Feast of the Transfiguration

heaven

There are times in our lives that we get the chance to see a glimpse of heaven. It may be through the love of another, loved one or stranger. Sometimes it may even be an event that seems unexplainable, perhaps even supernatural. These occurrences may be the answer to prayer or they may surprise us by coming out of nowhere. But no matter their nature or origin, they give us hope and strength to carry on through life.

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What’s Possessing You?

Posted on July 30, 2017 by - Everyday Stewardship

An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

earthly possessions

My wife is a big Dave Ramsey fan. She loves when he tells people that in order to pay down their debt they need to sell so many of their possessions that the kids think that even they can be sold for the right price. He definitely sees earthly possessions as simply tools to be used and not possessed. This is a tough, countercultural message for sure in the eyes of the average American. Too often, our self-worth is derived from our wealth and the items we own. The size of our house, the brand of our car, and the quantity of our belongings are all gauges of success in our world. For Ramsey, not only can you not truly own anything if you owe money to others, it belongs to God anyway and is only given to us as stewards.

Could you sell all you have right now? Could you walk away from all that you have amassed and be truly free? When Jesus speaks of the merchant who sells all he has to obtain a pearl of great price, he calls us to see the pearl as the kingdom of heaven. Nothing on earth can rival the value of the kingdom. If that is true, why is it so hard to surrender everything to God to obtain it? It can be fear that keeps us from stepping out in faith. It can be selfishness that prevents us from letting go. Whatever it is, we must face the fact that we are possessed by it. The good news is that God does not expect us to conquer this obstacle on our own. But with God, all things are possible.

Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS

A Different Kind of Destiny

Posted on July 23, 2017 by - Everyday Stewardship

discerning god's willHow time flies! This coming year I will have one child graduate from college, one from high school, and one starting high school. I am exhausted thinking about it. My prayer for all my children is that they take the Holy Spirit with them in all that they do, and call on God to aid them in discerning their future. That is my prayer, but I know that it will not always be easy for them to follow this path. The key will be for each of them, if they choose, to be what God intended them to be, as opposed to trying to be what they want to be.

It sounds great to say to a child, “You can be anything you want to be.” But at the core of this statement is often the lie that true happiness lies in fulfilling your will for your life. I have seen many people in my life that reached their goals only to find an emptiness and longing for something more. The reality is that our ultimate fulfillment and joy is becoming the person, not that we wanted to be, but the person that God created us to be. This does not mean that we are stuck in some predestined situation. There are many ways we can live out our destiny and use fully use the gifts God gave each of us. But it does mean that we have chosen a path based on where God is leading us and informed by an insight of the distinct gifts with which we have been created. At the end of that path is a life filled with joy, peace, and contentment.

This is what I want for my kids. May they find their success by discerning God’s will and becoming the wonderful people that God intended.

Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS

The God Who Is Not a Program

Posted on July 19, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: The God Who Is Not a ProgramFor Sunday, July 23, 2017
16th Sunday Ordinary Time

Wisdom 12:13, 16-19
Romans 8:26-27
Matthew 13:24-43 or 13:24-30

I have been working in the Church now as an adult for twenty-five years and I have seen so many things come and go. There were so many programs that promised to completely overhaul your parish and, in turn, change the world. There have been trends brought to us by conferences and workshops, buzzwords that seemed to either bring joy or tribulation to one’s heart, and book after book intending to be that last book you will ever need in ministry or in changing your life.

Today, I am full of hope because of all the talk about the new evangelization and a renewed emphasis on leading people to a real relationship with Jesus Christ. But at the same time, I see many of the same old traps that lead to cults of personality, blind faith in the latest idea or process, and the sin of feeling superior to others. If you are in a particular group that thinks a certain way, you are truly doing God’s will. If you are not, apparently you just don’t seem to get it. (more…)

Discerning the Seeds of Stewardship

Posted on July 16, 2017 by - Everyday Stewardship

An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Green PlantsOver the years I have wasted a lot: a lot of money, a lot of time, and a lot of talent. Sometimes I didn’t realize I was wasting these things, but after reflection, I realized I could have done more and accomplished much greater things. Of course, I think that is part of our imperfect humanity.

It truly is easier for us to waste our gifts than grow them into something more.

The parable of the sower speaks about the Word of God that gets planted in our hearts. If the soil of our heart is rich, than the Word will grow and change us. If that soil is rocky or full of weeds, the Word will lie there without any impact, bearing no fruit.

This parable can be applied to living a stewardship way of life as well. As sowers, we have been given the seeds of our time, talent, and treasure. We have a choice of where to plant these gifts. As good everyday stewards, we are called to plant them wisely and prudently. Often times it is not enough to simply give away what we have.

We need to discern the best places to sow these gifts so the maximum harvest can grow. This takes prayer, reflection, and study. Without a solid discernment process, we can find ourselves sowing seeds endlessly without much to show for it. But joyful is the person who has used their gifts wisely, for the bounty of the harvest is great.

No One Before God

Posted on July 2, 2017 by - Everyday Stewardship

An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2017

god first

It took five years of marriage before I was ready to have that first baby. Of course, now that I have three children I cannot imagine a life without them. After twenty-five years, I cannot imagine life without my wife as well.

And I know that I am lucky. I know those who have lost children or have been widowed. They couldn’t imagine life without their loved ones either. (more…)

In Awe of Creation

Posted on June 27, 2017 by - Everyday Stewardship

An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

god's giftWhen I was a teenager, one year after a Homecoming dance I took my date for a walk on the Potomac in downtown Alexandria. The moon was out and I was struck by how the light shimmered on the water. I remember focusing to try to see all the details of the dancing rays on the ripples.

My date didn’t see it and didn’t really get it. She thought it was no big deal. It was a great date and a fun night, but for that one moment we saw the world from two completely different vantage points.

Two of the greatest gifts from God to each of us are life and time. Without taking care, we can easily miss the grandeur and beauty of both. Being mindful as an everyday steward means pausing to see the detail in all that exists around us.

God’s creation is not something created with a broad brush, but instead with the intricacies of a master painter.

God created all things with purpose and a complexity only the Divine could fully comprehend. Every single hair on our head has been counted! But when we take a moment to reflect on the beauty that is created by that complexity, we allow ourselves to revel in God’s generosity.

There is so much to give thanks for in this life. But you and I can’t give thanks to God unless we really stop to take notice. When was the last time you stared in awe at the moon?

Stewardship & the Eucharist

Posted on June 19, 2017 by - Everyday Stewardship

An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for Feast of Corpus Christi

EucharistWhen I was a child, I can remember stopping by my parish or another local Catholic Church to just spend some time in prayer before the Holy Eucharist. We didn’t have exposition and adoration much in those days, but we were keenly aware of the presence of Jesus in the tabernacle.

I would sometimes stare at the lighted candle near it and know that Jesus was alive.

I had never heard someone speak about a “stewardship way of life” back then. If I am honest, the primary message I heard back in those days was along the lines of the need to be as good as we are able. Sacrifice was only at Lent, disciples were people in the Bible, and generosity mostly had to do with the collection basket and the poor box at the church entrance. I even went to Catholic schools!

Maybe the message of stewardship was there somewhere, packaged differently, and I just missed it.

It wasn’t until I was an adult, and after acquiring two theology degrees, that I understood both with my head and my heart what a stewardship way of life really meant. But I look back at those days and I realize that the groundwork was laid for me to understand these things.

It was those times before the Holy Eucharist that I began to understand true sacrifice. It was at those times that I began to understand how actions and realities that seem so simple to the human eye can be so profound. And it was at those times that I began to see that true love knows no bounds.

What does the Holy Eucharist say to you about stewardship? Maybe today is a great time to reflect on your answer.