In Awe of Creation

Posted on June 27, 2017 by - Everyday Stewardship

An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The MoonWhen 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.

Pentecost and Chuck E. Cheese

Posted on June 6, 2017 by - Everyday Stewardship

Chuck. E Cheese BirthdayThere are some things I miss now that my children are older. Less snuggles, fewer moments of awe and wonder, and fewer crazy questions that make me laugh. However, if I’m honest, there some things I do not miss, especially the birthday parties.

I loved the aspect of celebrating my child’s birth, but most years the party cost too much, involved too much stress, and resulted in a lot of presents that ended up in my garage. Today, nice dinners with family and friends sharing time together have taken the place of the “birthday party” and that is fine with me.

Centuries ago, God moved in such a profound way and sent His Holy Spirit upon us, imparting to the Church gifts that remain with us today. That first Pentecost was a first birthday party of sorts with people gathered to celebrate their common faith in Jesus Christ.

Of course, that party had none of the trappings of a child’s event at Chuck E. Cheese, but instead, presented us all with generous gifts that could be used for the glory of God instead of the stuff children discard after a few weeks.

Every year I think it is important to really celebrate what God has given to us, the Church, on the Feast of Pentecost. The generosity of God knows no limits and the Holy Spirit is alive. It’s just that the gifts from this celebration need to be used or the celebration will be hollow.

The gifts are free to us even though they are priceless. It would be poor stewardship to toss them in the garage with all those toys that time forgot.

Risky Faith

Posted on June 2, 2017 by - Everyday Stewardship

A Post By Chuck Frost

Take RisksI love to go see live music, there is nothing like the energy of hearing music being played in real time.  It isn’t studio polished or in perfect time.  Mistakes are made, but they add authenticity and color to the performance even if you don’t notice them – especially if you don’t notice them.

My preference is improvisational live music. I love not knowing what is coming next and whether or not exciting new sounds will be created on the spot.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. What I love most is the energy behind the risk-taking that is inherent to improvisational music.  Playing before a paying audience, those musicians take a huge risk and there is no guarantee the audience will appreciate or get what they are doing.  But the reward is high if they nail it.

Life is pretty colorless when you don’t take risks.

In one of Pope Francis’ recent morning homilies, he urged us to be risk-takers. Commenting on the stories of those who took a risk to get to Jesus, he noted that the men who made a hole in the roof to lower their paralytic friend to Jesus took a risk, the Canaanite woman whose daughter was possessed took a risk, the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment took a risk…the disciples who dropped everything for Jesus took a risk.

Improvisational musicians don’t just get on stage and play random notes without some foundation and preparation, however, and these Biblical examples didn’t put faith in Jesus and what he could do for them without some idea of who Jesus was and what he was about.

Pope Francis has consistently called us to the risk of going out into the peripheries, but it would be foolish to do that without preparing our souls.  But soul-nourishing only to stay in the well-rehearsed, choreographed safe zone will produce a colorless and lifeless Christianity. The Holy Father called it a view from the balcony.  And if that’s the only view we have, then we are missing out on the abundant life Jesus promised us.

You Have Been Commissioned

Posted on May 26, 2017 by - Everyday Stewardship

An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for the Feast of the Ascension

Go Therefore and Make Disciples of All Nations

I remember watching part of a college graduation address where the speaker said, “With this degree you are commissioned to go into the world and make a difference.” The imagery conjured up in my mind by the use of the word “commissioned” was pretty powerful.

I thought about the commissioning of military officers and the responsibility they took on for the lives of their subordinates but also the lives of those they protected. To me the word meant something very serious and solemn. It meant huge responsibility and expectation.

In the Bible, Jesus gives what we call the Great Commission:

“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you,” (Matt 28:19-20a).

The word commission makes this more than a suggestion or a hope. There is an expectation, a responsibility, and a mandate. Of course, did you wake up this morning thinking about how you would fulfill the Great Commission today?

Faith StorySharing the Faith is not just something we should do; it is something we must do. The key is that you don’t need to speak all the time to share. It will be through your life of stewardship that others will be able to see Jesus.

By giving of yourself, by always responding to the call, and by surrendering all to God, you will lead others to become disciples, to seek out the sacraments, and to observe His teachings. Yes, responding in full to the Great Commission, great things can happen.

Half Empty or Half Full?

Posted on May 18, 2017 by - Everyday Stewardship

By Steve Botsford

“I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing,” (John 15:5).

Running on EmptyThe idea of a glass being half empty or half full is a common proverbial phrase that is used to illustrate that a situation can be viewed as generally positive or negative. It can also be interpreted as a state of mind, or perception of one’s worldview. Either way, it’s an assessment of a moment in time.

In the Jackson Browne song “Running on Empty,” Browne describes a (hopefully) transitional season of life. He uses the metaphor of a gas tank to describe his place in life. In our own lives, we are constantly refilling and recharging. Be it gasoline, cell phone or laptop batteries, or grabbing a snack or meal, we need to replenish our source of energy.

The thing is, all these sources are temporary and must be constantly replenished. Life’s journey and meaning is found in the source of all things–Jesus Christ.

Jesus reminds us that we are connected, and when we are connected not only are we nourished but we “bear much fruit.” Connected and nourished, two essentials for the long run and for everyday stewards.

No longer are we half empty OR half full!

Steve Botsford is the Director of Religious Education at St. Ann Catholic Church in Marietta, GA. He holds an MBA from the University of Phoenix and a Master of Religious Education from Loyola University, New Orleans.

The Value of Your Stewardship

Posted on May 12, 2017 by - Everyday Stewardship

An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for the 5th Sunday of Easter

Body of ChristWhat do you think is the value of your stewardship?

Do you believe that through your actions both great and small that God can touch people, heal them, and change their lives? Too often we can mistakenly assume that what we do, say, or offer can have little effect in the grand scheme of life.

We are simply poor sinners in need of salvation so what could we do anyway?

Jesus speaks very powerfully to what can be done by those who believe in Him and follow Him. He says in John’s gospel, “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father.”

Greater ones than these? Think about all the miracles of Jesus recorded in sacred scripture. You and I can do works greater than those?

Theresa of Avila said, “Christ has no body now on earth but yours.” We are Christ to a world that needs Him. It is the Christ in you that responds to the Christ in me. If it were only you alone going about doing good works and deeds, than your stewardship would amount to little. But if you bear the name Christian, and you approach your discipleship seriously, you can truly do greater things.

If you understand your stewardship as a way that Jesus works in our world, then this way of life, cultivating and sharing your gifts at every turn, becomes more valuable than all the gold in the world.

Hard to be Humble

Posted on May 9, 2017 by - Everyday Stewardship

By Main Thing contributor Chuck Frost

Hard to be HumbleOne of the more humorous songs of my childhood was Mac Davis’ “Oh Lord It’s Hard To Be Humble”:

Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way.

I can’t wait to look in the mirror, cause I get better looking each day.

Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble, but I’m doing the best that I can.

We often misunderstand humility. We think humility is about understating or even downgrading our own gifts and abilities.

When I was younger, one of my pastors told me that he believed true humility was an honest assessment of what gifts you have and the willingness to step forward to use them when needed. It is also the restraint we show by not stepping forward when others among us are more gifted in a particular area.

Based on her study of the early desert monks, Roberta Bondi puts it this way: “Cultivating humility also means that we will begin to stop measuring ourselves continually against others…. Having humility will mean that we will have no particular desire to do better than others, and we will not care if someone else does better than we.” (To Love As God Loves, 1987)

Thinking of humility this way, we see that it connects to envy, pride, and even patience – and it’s quite a challenging virtue as Mr. Davis wryly sung.

But it’s okay not to be the best at something.

It’s okay if someone is more “successful” than we are or whose gifts get a bigger audience.

God has not called any of us to be the best or successful as those concepts are often defined by the world. God has called us to discover and use what he has given us. And no matter how small our gifts may seem in the eyes of the world or even our own eyes, we are asked to humbly step forward and offer them to the Lord.

Chuck Frost is Pastoral Associate at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in Roanoke, Virginia.

Sending a Message

Posted on May 4, 2017 by - Everyday Stewardship

By Steve Botsford

Send a MessageOne of the most important things we do is send messages. Emails. Texts. Facebook messages. And if we call someone and they don’t answer, we leave them a message.

We prepare little elevator speeches and messages hoping to pique someone’s interest enough to follow up with us for more information. And sometimes we may only have a minute or 140 characters to convey the best possible message.

Effective messaging is an art, and most messages we create are for our own interest and benefit.

As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace,” (1 Pt 4:10).

Effective stewardship means managing resources that are for the common good – the good of others. We have received a glorious gift that can benefit all people, the gift of faith. Today’s readings remind us of the eternal message, that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). This message is the foundation of our faith.

Now it’s easy to become sidetracked by programs, procedures and problem-solving. In our abundance of information and communication we can get lost in our own messages. Today, Paul and John help us focus on what the true message really is. To know the Father we must first know Jesus.

In the midst of preparing messages for our daily business, let’s not forget the Main Thing– we are disciples of Christ. All of our activities must lead others to know the One who is the Way to eternal life, which begins here on earth.

We are Jesus’ hands and feet, face and spokesperson. Our actions are Jesus’ actions. After all, whoever has seen us has seen the Father (John 14: 6b, 9c).

Jesus, help me to be ready to use our messages to communicate the good news found only in you.

Steve Botsford is a husband, father, catechist, educational consultant, blogger, and game designer.

Dinner With Strangers

Posted on April 25, 2017 by - Everyday Stewardship

This post was written by Main Thing contributor Chuck Frost.

My wife and I had a late work day last week, so I decided to swing by a drive-thru and grab a sandwich for dinner. In front of me was a car with roughly 20 bumper stickers on the back. Some of the stickers didn’t make sense to me, but most of them were related to video games that I am familiar with.

The young man in the car was a little unkempt and I imagined he probably spent a good amount of time behind the computer with headphones on. Admittedly my mind went to gamer stereotypes, which are mostly untrue, but still embedded in pop culture. (more…)