As a church, it’s our responsibility to remind our parishioners that summer shouldn’t just be about recharging our bodies, but it should also (and most importantly!) be about focusing on our spiritual life. Just as parish office hours may need to be adjusted during summer months, so, too, might the requirements of the faithful need some adjusting.
It is common thinking to believe that Christ’s Ascension into heaven somehow removes him from earth and that the Holy Spirit becomes some kind of substitution for his presence here. How then, are we to think of this event we celebrate? If Christ is now fully glorified and ascended into heaven, how can he still be here?
Through our stewardship, we allow our parish community to shine like a city on a hill for others to see and then be drawn toward Jesus Christ. It is about leading people to heaven. Our actions of stewardship do not point toward us but instead to the one who calls us to this life.
In some ways, it’s an elephant in the room. We may wish that every parish job and every church culture was perfectly attuned for human flourishing — both our own and those of our fellow parishioners. Sometimes, however, creating environments for other people’s flourishing means we neglect our own.
Despite criticism from many fronts, Pope Francis has made this vision of a Church moving “beyond the boundaries” the guiding principle of his ministry and this has certainly been a dominant theme in his papacy. Nothing less is expected of us. In the end, what’s at stake in all of this is the mission of the Church.
As Christians, we can find ourselves hiding behind our words. The world will only know whom it is we serve if we love like Jesus, we act like Jesus, and we serve others like Jesus. Our love should be an instrument of our evangelization. Our words must become true, not because we say them enough, but because they are true.
We all want answers as to why we are here and what we were made for. We need to know that we matter and that our talents can be put to good use. That is why it is so essential to set the tone when someone makes the leap into your parish community. And a great way to do this is with a welcome packet!
How does Jesus make all things new? Jesus tells us that all he has taught can be summed up in one commandment, “Love one another.” The love that Jesus commands is no warm feeling of affection expressing itself in hugs and kisses. Rather, he commands them to love one another as he has loved them — by dying on the cross. Jesus is the only hope of renewal for us individually, for the Church, and for the world.
We believe that worldly values, immorality, or evil itself can take us away from God’s love and protection. But there are few greater lies than this. The reality is that if we find ourselves far away from God, the only force that carried us away was our own choices.
We need to be intentional with our efforts to grow our church, and that includes gathering data to see if we can work with the trends we discover. We need to move out of the “hoping, dreaming, and wishing” mindset, and instead focus on who — and most importantly, who is not — coming to our parish.
In a world where we are constantly bombarded with so many voices calling for our attention, we can feel overwhelmed by the myriad of options. Amid this clamor, we don’t always recognize the voice of the Shepherd himself. Yet, that is the one voice that should draw our attention: how does the voice of Jesus sound to you?
The stewardship way of life demands of us a certain maturity of discipleship. Just as a child is not yet ready to be a parent, an immature disciple may not yet be ready to sacrifice regardless of the cost or understand the true value of his generosity. We are growing not only in maturity, but in the ability to trust in God and how to listen for the call as well.