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July 2, 1993     The Message
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ii  / i !il i : !i!i! 1993 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana G Third in a series on stewardship-- What do I have to be thankful for? By JUSTIN CLEMENTS If you are a parent or a child  and you must be at least one of these! -- does this sound familiar: "Money doesn't grow on trees!" Or how about: "Do I look like I'm made of money?" Or what about these words written by Mark Twain who must have been talking with his own children: "Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first!" In the course of every parent-child relation- ship, there are times when neither one seems to have the same perception of the value of money. Perhaps this is because we often confuse the dif- ference between a gift and something that is earned. Have you ever thought or said something like this: "Nobody ever gave me anything." Or, "I work hard for everything I have." Or "I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth like some people." And, if we are really feeling sorry for ourselves, we might even say: "What do I have to be thankful for?" Let's open our mind for a few minutes and consider just a few of the things we have not earned. Let's start with the basics: first, there is our very life which is a gift given to us by our parents. Next, there are those fundamental ele- ments we need to stay alive on this planet: the air we breathe, the water we drink, the earth that provides the food we eat. And, by the way, the earth also produces the natural resources and raw materials we need to create the "things" that add comfort to our lives: our jobs, our homes. our many luxuries (sometimes confused with necessities). Is there more we have not earned? You bet! What about our intelligence, our abilities, our skills? What about the fact that we live in the United States of America? And. fi- nally and most importantly, what about our Catholic faith? All of these things are unearned gifts. And now. as the popular expression says, "Here's where the rubber meets the road." If you're reading these words, you most likely are a Christian -- a follower of Jesus Christ. If that is true, then consider this: we Christians say we believe that every- thing we have comes from God; God blesses us in so many marvelous ways. God, through the instrument of our par- ents, gives us life. God, the author of all creation, gives us the earth and all its resources for our use. In other words no matter how difficult our lives may be from time to time, we always have something to be thankful for. How do we react to all these gifts from God? Normally, when we receive a gift, we extend the usual human cour- tesy of thanking the giver. Even though God doesn't need our gratitude, we certainly need to express it. How do we show God our appreciation? Let's look for the answer to this question in the place we Christians usu- ally find good answers: Sacred Scripture. In the New Testa- ment, there is a clear, straightforward message about what is expected when the master gives unearned gifts to his ser- vants: he expects them to use what they have received wisely and well, and he expects them to return a portion to him to help build up his business. In other words, the mas- ter expects gratitude expressed through good stewardship. In this same vein, being a good Christian steward in- volves several responsibilities: the wise use of God's gifts and resources, taking care of ourselves and our environ- ment, using our talents and skills in a manner that is pleas- ing to God and consistent with the Gospel values, and gratefully returning a portion of our resources to God for His work in our world. What are those resources? Our Time. our Talents. and our Treasure. In future articles we will explore each of these three "T's." We will look at some of the ways we disciples of Jesus Christ can live a steward- ship way of life and the wonderfifl blessings this way of life can bring to us. Some synod =bservations Father Sy Loehrlein is Pastor of.St. Rupert Church, Red Brush, and a frequent cantrib' utor to the Message. By FATHER SY LOEHRLEIN : At the Synod Deanery Assemblies on Feb. 20 and 21, each deanery selected what its representatives thought were the most im- portant of the ten Primary Pastoral Issues. Five of the seven deaner- ies selected "Living the Faith" as the number one issue. The other two placed "Living the Faith" in second place. That means "Living the Faith" was singled out far above all other issues as being most important. So, how do we go about "Living the Faith?" The Bible tells us that we who have faith in Jesus are the Kingdom of God (Matthew 13). Jesus is the vine and we are his branches (John 15:1-8). We are members of a body,,and Jesus is our head(Ephesians 4:11-6). Jesus is the bridegroom and we are his bride (Rev- elation 21:1-4). These im- ages tell us that Jesus es- tablished a Church to be intimately united with Him. His obvious intent is that everything we do should be a cooperative venture between us and God. How do any two persons develop a co-operative venture? One of the basics in developing the venture would be communication between the partners. Communication between us and God is called prayer. We practice, and we grow in "Living the Faith" through prayer. If we want to grow in "Living the Faith". we must spend time alone with God. Jesus taught: "Whenever you pray, go to your room, close your door, and pray to your Fa- ther in private. Then. your Father, who sees what no man sees. will repay you" {Matthew 6:6). It is so good to spend at least 15 minutes a day at this task. But we are not just a bunch of individuals serv- ing God. Jesus made us to be a kingdom, a vine. members of a body. That means we must also pray like a kingdom, a vine, or like members of a body. That is. we must pray to- gether. Jesus also taught: "'If two of you join your vmces on earth to pray for anything whatever, it shall be granted you by mv Fa- ther in heaven. Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst" (Matthew 18:19- 20). In sum, we must pray alone. And we must also pray with others- It is so good also to spend at least 15 minutes praying with our family and/or our friends eacl day. The Spirit has much to tell us about "Living the Faith" in our up-coming Synod. But we will hear the Spirit only if we have done our home-work. Can you imagine an orchestra putting o. program un- s[ ing alone, the members have spefi' a tot of time practicing with': each other? N ' ow , ach Catholic of our diocese is a member of this orchestra not just the delegates to the Synod We all need each other. Especially we need ech other to "be ' I'iViI'g"he Faith" in preparing for he Synod. If we don't spend at least 15 minutes alne with God each day, anl if we don t spend at least the same amoun t of time py- ing with our families nd friends each da, can .we hope to prod!rach more than aitoiso with our Synod? LET THE SPIRIT SPEAK!