How the Eucharist calls us to stewardship
FORT WORTH — The Holy Eucharist is God’s gift to us, and our grateful response is one of stewardship. Connecting the Eucharist to stewardship was the theme of the Diocesan Day of Stewardship March 18 at St. Andrew Parish in Fort Worth.
About 100 parishioners and priests from across the Diocese of Fort Worth gathered with Bishop Michael F. Olson at the event, first celebrating Mass and then meeting to discuss stewardship as a way of life.
In his message on stewardship, Bishop Olson said, “Jesus’ greatest gift to us is the Eucharist, the source and summit of Christian life.”
Most of us emphasize it as “summit” in celebrating the Holy Sacrament, but we could use more reflection on the Eucharist as “source.”
As an example of stewardship, Bishop Olson talked about his recent trip to India. He wanted to connect with the religious orders and families of the 22 priests from India serving in the diocese.
At one event, the archbishop asked him, “What do you think of our building?”
Bishop Olson answered, “It’s nice.”
The archbishop told him, “I’m glad you like it, because your people built it.”
Funds from the diocese were sent to India to help build the church.
“Mission comes from the Eucharist,” Bishop Olson said. “We are sent out at the end of Mass.”
The Church in India faces persecution, and some faithful may even face martyrdom, but they persevere in positively impacting the nation through their schools.
“What I’ve learned is that we have to be courageous and rely on the hope God gives us through the Eucharist,” Bishop Olson said. “We’re called to do what Jesus asks us to do. Whether we’re successful or not is up to Him. But if we’re faithful, it’s up to us.”
He encouraged Catholics to persevere in the secular society around them. In a toxic culture polarized by race and politics, the Church is called to bring unity that can only be found in Christ. And that good work is part of stewardship.
“Stewardship of our gifts is born of gratitude, as we are aware of how God has blessed us and continues to bless us,” Bishop Olson said.
“We become the gift”
Father Joseph Moreno, pastor of St. Jude Thaddeus in Burkburnett, Christ the King in Iowa Park, and St. Paul in Electra, talked about shifting to a Eucharistic lifestyle instead of a consumerist approach.
Fr. Moreno said that many people have a consumerist mentality when it comes to church.
“Mass is a transaction. I show up every or some Sundays,” he said. “I put some dollars in the basket or not, and you leave me alone the rest of the time.”
How do we cure this consumeristic cancer?
We foster stewardship as a way of life instead of a program.
The Holy Eucharist is a gift from Christ, and stewardship is our response to His gift.
When we hear the word “stewardship,” we tend to think about money, he said. But it’s not about treasure but about a Eucharist lifestyle, serving God with everything God has given us.
“We become the gift,” Fr. Moreno said.
The Lord’s gift of Himself is something to be received in gratitude, and His sacrifice is also a calling that we are to imitate ourselves.
The Eucharist also brings transformation.
When we approach Mass with a consumer perspective, focusing on the quality of the homily or the music, we miss the point.
“We come to Mass to give ourselves to God, and we receive Christ,” he said.
When we receive the Body of Christ in the Eucharist, God works in us to transform our hearts.
“Stewardship is about the proper use of what God has already given us,” he said. “Everything we have belongs to Him.”
Bringing people closer to Christ
Wendy Collins, director of stewardship and parish relations for the Advancement Foundation, said the event was designed to encourage those who attended to help their parishes focus on stewardship as a way of life, impacting their prayer, formation, hospitality, and service.
“The ultimate goal is to bring people closer to Christ,” Collins said.
Those who attended said they welcomed the opportunity to focus on stewardship.
Nicole Capps, a parishioner at St. Philip the Apostle in Flower Mound, said that a welcoming environment is important in helping others engage in stewardship.
“I believe if we don’t make people feel welcome in their own community, then they won’t know how to explore their own gifts to give back,” Capps said.
Veronica Wingen, a parishioner at St. Peter the Apostle in Fort Worth, said that she and others at her table discussed some of the gifts that come from the Eucharist: peace, which is a sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit, along with outreach, a moral compass, and personal sanctification.
Father Daniel Pattee, parochial vicar at St. Andrew, said that his response to the Eucharist is one of gratitude.
“My stewardship isn’t financial; it’s my whole life,” Fr. Pattee said.