As I write this article I’m anxiously waiting to learn how much money Visitation of Our Lady Parish made at its annual fair. The money is important. We owe $4-million on our gymnasium/auditorium/classroom building. However, because I’m anxious, I’m putting aside this article. I’m going to pray.
I’m back. So is my resolve to live what I preach to Visitation’s parishioners. In John 3:16, we are not told God so loves the world he gave it excellent stock tips. We’re told God so loves the world he gave us His only Son.
I preach approximately 250 homilies each year. Only one of them, the one during the third weekend of Stewardship renewal, is about money. All my homilies, though, deal with love.
I was married 30-years before my wife, Kacky, died and I became a priest. I learned bunches from Kacky. Love requires intimacy. Intimacy requires communication, and communication requires lots of talk. Love also requires a willingness to sacrifice, me for you. If wife and husband deeply communicate and regularly sacrifice, everything else falls into place.
When I began stewardship at Visitation, I applied Kacky’s lessons. I told the parishioners we must have an intimate relationship with God; we must talk with our God often. We must also be willing to sacrifice for each other the way He sacrificed for us. Talking with God is, of course, prayer. Sacrificing for each other is ministry.
I mention the words Good Steward in every homily I preach. I also constantly talk about love, prayer and ministry. Does that make me a head-in-the-clouds financial fool? I don’t think so. My last job before becoming a priest was as a Vice-president of a $3-billion dollar company.
During the last five years at Visitation, prayer commitments have increased more than a thousand percent. The number of our ministries has increased more than 150 percent. Collections too have more than doubled!
Marriage counselors tell us that one reason couples divorce is money. So, they argue one key to a healthy marriage is a good budget. I don’t believe it! As I stated before, the key to a healthy marriage is communication and sacrifice and a life of faith. We often hear that the key to good Stewardship is an emphasis on tithing. I don’t believe that either. The key to good stewardship is communication (time talking with God) and sacrifice (using our talents to minister). Trust me: the money (treasure) follows.
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