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Many of us work for companies or dioceses or parishes that have a mission statement or a vision statement; sometimes these can be ‘holy hopes’ written by a committee and then forgotten, but sometimes they are the very core of an organisation and are ‘owned’ by all stakeholders.  The Beatitudes are Jesus’ mission statement, they reflect the very heart of Jesus.  So, as stewards, as followers of Jesus, part of his ‘committee’ if we find that image helpful, we too should try to live these eight statements as both our vision and our mission.  Ultimately, stewardship is a way of life lived gratefully for all that God has given to us; all the ways in which God has blessed our lives, for that is the meaning of beatitude. 

We live in a society where success appears to be the heart of all that is good.  The eight beatitudes offer us a counter-cultural approach, where humility and mourning and gentleness and peacefulness etc. are what is blessed.  These are gifts from God that we are called to steward; they lead us to a life lived in integrity and honesty.  What we hear and what we learn from Jesus’ identification of who is blessed is something for us to hold at the very heart of our discipleship.  Yet these beatitudes are paradoxical – the first, for example telling us ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit’, yet who among us would choose that?!  Poverty of spirit has a gift to offer us; it can teach us not to rely on ourselves, but to rely on God.  It invites us to be grateful to God for the blessings we receive in our poverty. 

An invitation might be to take eight days and pray each of these beatitudes in turn, listening to Jesus speak each one to us and seeing where the truth of where we are living each one is in our own lives.  We might also think of those identified in each beatitude (the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted because of righteousness).  These are the people who reflect God to us through the ways in which God has extravagantly blessed them.  In what ways am I called to reflect these blessings?  Praying these beatitudes may be a step to becoming and being a more faithful steward in response to the fact that we are all truly blessed by God.


            Teresa Keogh





Be a Good Steward of the Christmas Season

December is such a busy time of year, and a month that tempts us to lose sight of the profound spiritual importance of the Advent and Christmas seasons. The best way to stay focused on keeping Christ in Christmas is to be good stewards of his presence in our daily lives this Christmas season. Here are simple ways to exercise good stewardship of this sacred time of year.

  1. Give God a very special gift during the Christmas season: Let this gift be something personal that no one else needs to know about, and let it be a sacrifice. Perhaps your gift will be to commit to spending more time with God daily. Perhaps there is a habit you know you should give up. Why wait for a New Year’s resolution? Start now.
  1. Celebrate the season of Christmas in its entirety: Light a Christmas candle each night before dinner daily through the Christmas season to Sunday, January 12, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. If you have children, let them offer their own prayers to the Christ child.
  1. Set aside a special time after Christmas Day to read the Christmas story in the Gospel of Saint Luke 1:5-56 through 2:1-20 more reflectively: Consider reading this account with your family and discussing it together.
  1. Keep a crèche up in your home throughout the Christmas season: Consider having one set that is “kid-proof” which your children are allowed to handle. Kids love to make the Nativity story their own, and they especially love the angels!
  1. Plan a project to help someone this Christmas season: Identify someone with a genuine need, involve your whole family and see how happy you can make someone during the Christmas season. Participate in your parish Adopt-a-Family program or call Catholic Charities or another charity and find a family through their programs. Make sure your children take part in shopping for a family who needs extra help and make them aware of the needs in your community. 
  1. Take a group Christmas caroling to a nursing home or a children’s hospital: Get people together after the busyness of the days leading up to Christmas is over. Make it a festive time. Bring the gifts of your joyful smiles and voices to those who may need these gifts.
  1. Give a surprise gift of service to each member of your family: The idea of giving an unexpected gift of service to members of your family in the days following Christmas reveals your own love and concern for them. You might consider giving your spouse a day away, running an errand for your brother, or cleaning out a closet for your mother. Make it personal and meaningful.
  1. Continue to send Christmas cards and thank you notes that convey a spiritual message: This is an easy way to share your faith during the Christmas season. Don’t just sign your name! Include a personal message with each card. Set aside some time after Christmas Day to write thank you notes and help your children to write thank you notes for the gifts they receive. This is a wonderful habit for a lifetime, and a good way to foster a steward’s gratitude for all gifts.
  1. Write a Christmas letter to someone far away such as someone in the service, or perhaps someone working or ministering in a foreign country: It has been said that receiving a letter when you are far away from home is like opening a priceless gift on Christmas morning, no matter what day of the year. Many people are unable to travel home for the holidays, so it can be a very lonely time for them. Write a special Christmas letter to someone of your choice.
  1. Start the New Year in a special way. Attend Mass on January 1: New Year’s Day is the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. It falls on Wednesday in 2020. Try to get family to go with you. If you are alone this Christmas season or don’t have family living near you, invite a friend or a neighbor to join you.


The eleventh month is now upon us, drawing us closer to the end of the calendar year. It is a transition month, a month between autumn and winter, when the leaves get raked, and the crops have been harvested. We “fall back” from Daylight Savings Time and revert to Standard Time. Most of us prepare for rain, snow and winter storms. It is also a month that reminds us to be grateful which is so fundamental to Christian stewardship.

During the month of November we express our gratitude for the saints, witnesses to the Gospel who challenge us to find our own path to holiness. We are grateful for the lives of all who have gone before us to meet the Lord, especially those we know and hold dear. We thank our veterans who have offered their lives on our behalf. And of course, in the United States, there is Thanksgiving Day, a holiday that is all about gratitude.

The month of November is an ideal time of the year to focus our spiritual lives more intently on being grateful for the blessings of the Lord. Sacred scripture is a good place to start because it is filled with the themes of thanksgiving and gratitude. The psalmist sings: “Give thanks to God, bless his name” (Psalm 100:4). We can become more aware, too, of gratitude as it is expressed in the rhythm of the Eucharistic celebration. Other spiritual exercises, too, may help us to grow to be more grateful stewards of God’s love.

The month of November is an ideal time of the year to focus our spiritual lives more intently on being grateful for the blessings of the Lord.

Pray with gratitude. Set aside some time for prayer each day. If you are new to the habit of daily prayer, find 10 minutes in your daily schedule. Pray as a family as well. And begin with a prayer of gratitude.

Put gratitude into action. Do something in your parish or neighborhood to share your material blessings with those who might otherwise go hungry. Contribute to a food bank or help deliver food baskets.

Make gratitude a habit. Find ways to thank others for their generosity and kindness toward you every day. The late Catholic spiritual writer, Thomas Merton, once wrote that to be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything. Let us use the month of November as an opportunity to grow in stewardship which, simply put, means living a life of gratitude. And as the psalmist encourages us to do: “O give thanks to the Lord for he is good; for his love endures forever” (Psalm 107:1).


Try one of the following:

Give up complaining focus on gratitude.

Give up cynicism become an optimist.

Give up harsh judgments think kindly thoughts.

Give up worry trust in the Lord.

Give up discouragement become more hopeful.

Give up bitterness turn to forgiveness.

Give up resentment cultivate some humility.

Give up negativism be more positive.

Give up anger be more patient.

Give up pettiness become mature.

Give up gloom learn to smile.

Give up jealousy adopt a generous attitude.

Give up gossiping control your tongue.

Give up tension find more humor.

Give up giving up be persistent in prayer!


In the early 2000s, when the sex abuse scandal first shocked the Church in the United States, Cincinnati Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk (now retired), initiated a program he called “Grateful Believers.” He dedicated his weekly column in the archdiocesan newspaper to reminiscences about people and things for which he was grateful, and he invited all clergy and lay people in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati to call to mind similar experiences of gratitude.

Archbishop Pilarczyk’s insight was that if we focus only on the negative, on the sins and scandals, we risk losing sight of the fundamental beauty and goodness of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. Yes, some Church’s leaders have sinned. Yes, we are right to be embarrassed, angry and hurt. But is that all there is? No.

Think back to the experiences for which you are grateful:  For the gift of Jesus Christ freely given in the Eucharist and all the sacraments; for the Word of God generously shared in the scriptures; for the ministry of good priests, deacons and bishops; for the holy women and men in religious orders, and countless lay people, who have given their lives to proclaim the Gospel, to teach our children and to serve the poor and vulnerable among us. We should be grateful to them—now more than ever—because they did not give up on the wounded Church they served so faithfully.

Are you mad at the pope and the bishops for their failures to protect our children and punish those who committed horrible crimes? Fair enough. There is plenty to be mad about. But is that all there is? No.

There are more than a few reasons to be grateful for the ministry of recent popes, for the leadership of bishops past and present, and for the good priests who have served parishes throughout the United States so faithfully. Name a few of the people you are grateful for. Recall their kindness to you in times of trouble, or their ministry to the sick and elderly members of your family. Thank God for all that they shared with you in homilies or faith sharing sessions. Remember the people who cared unselfishly for the needs of God’s people, and say thank you.

Gratitude is the best cure for anger and depression. It lifts our spirits and calls attention to the blessings we have received—undeservedly and with no strings attached. When we say thank you to God or to another human being, we acknowledge that we are not autonomous, self-sufficient beings but members of God’s family called to love and serve one another.

Grateful believers are not naïve. They do not sweep bad news under the carpet or maintain that no evil has been done by sinful men and women in positions of authority in the Church. Grateful believers are thankful that painful truths are now being told; that Church leaders are cooperating with civil authorities and being accountable for, and transparent about, abuses dating back several generations. Grateful believers are sad and angry, but they refuse to let these emotions paralyze them or cause them to give up on the Church.  

Grateful believers know that the work of Christ must continue—now more than ever. The Gospel must be preached; the faith must be handed on to future generations; and the poor and vulnerable must be served. Whatever evil may have been committed by individual Church leaders, there is still no greater force for good in the United States than the Catholic Church. No institution or community does a better job of resettling refugees, of helping children and families break the cycle of poverty, of caring for the healthcare needs of the indigent poor, of inspiring young people to live lives of generous service, and much more.

Now more than ever, we should give thanks for the sacraments, for the intercession of Mary and all the saints, and for the good work being done every day by lay people, religious, deacons, priests and bishops. Now more than ever, we should be proud of our Church which in spite of its weakness and sin carries on the work of Jesus Christ here and now.

Is it too much to ask that each of us say “thank you” at least once a day for the gifts we have received in and through the Catholic Church? Surely gratitude is better than bitter resentment when it comes to a healthy spiritual life.

Thank you, Pope Francis, cardinals, archbishops and bishops, and all you holy priests and deacons, religious women and men, and lay people who serve the Church in our country. We are grateful believers who—in spite of everything—appreciate your ministry now more than ever.


            Dan Conway