Lincoln’s Log 10-3-10

“We are an inviting faith-filled Catholic community made up of two unique parishes devoted to life-long learning and discipleship through prayer, service and sharing.”

This statement, from the St. Rose/St. Mary’s common mission statement shows how integral Stewardship is to our life as community.  Recently, Bishop Bob Morneau from Bear Creek wrote the following reflection on a theology of Stewardship.  Here are some of his thoughts on prayer, service, and sharing:

 

Stewardship of Prayer

Prayer is about our relationship with God.  Stewards nurture their relationship with God by having a prayer life. Whether that is two minutes or two hours a day, listening and responding to God is at the core of the disciple's life. At times the prayer will be that of thanksgiving. At other times the prayer will be that of praise or petition or forgiveness. Whether private or communal prayer, the purpose is to stay connected to God so as to do the divine will. This dimension of stewardship can be measured to some degree. Of the 168 hours per week, of the 144 daily ten-minutes slots, how much time do we use in prayer? And, of course, the most important prayer of all is the Eucharist in which we hear God's word and receive Jesus in the Eucharist. Stewards are eucharistic people.

 

Stewardship of Service

Ministry is about gifts and needs. We name and nurture the gifts God has given us; we place these gifts at the service of those in need. Ministries are many in number and find expression in the areas of worship, education, community, social justice, leadership, and evangelization. The Epistle of St. Peter reminds us: "As each one has received a gift, use it to serve another as good stewards of God's varied graces" (1 Peter 4:10). A theology of ministry and service emphasizes that it is not so much that we do things for others but rather Jesus is doing something for others through us. Being aware of the difference between "for" and "through" changes our whole manner of service. That is why prayer is so important: it keeps reminding us that all stewardship is ultimately the work of the Lord taking place through the actions of faithful disciples. Jesus came not to be served but to serve. Through baptism and confirmation we are called to a life of commitment to the wounded of the world. The Eucharist strengthens us in that mission and the Christian community hopefully supports us in our responsibilities.

 

Stewardship of Sharing

"The budget is a moral document" (Jim Wallis). How we earn and spend our money is both a highly personal issue as well as a social concern. Having access to someone's checkbook is also having access to that person's value system. "For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be." Matthew 6:21 Stewards are generous people. Again, they have a grateful heart realizing that all gifts come from the Lord. They feel an obligation to return a portion (be it 3%, 6%, 10%, 20%) to the Church and other charities. They refuse to be co-opted by a culture of greed and live a life of hoarding. A tough question has to be asked: can a person claim to be a disciple of the Lord if they are not sharing generously of their financial resources? A strange phenomenon happens in the stewardship world. The greater the generosity and the greater the sacrifice, the greater the joy. Joy, according to some authors, is impossible without generosity. And as one author states, joy is the infallible sign of God's presence.


Peace,

Lincoln

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Lincoln’s Log 9-26-10

“Who is a Christian steward?

One who receives God’s gifts gratefully,

Cherishes and tends them in a responsible and accountable manner,

Shares them in justice and love with all,

And returns them with increase to the Lord.”

 

Last week, and in the coming weeks, we are going to be hearing a lot about Stewardship in the Gospels.  You will be receiving a letter from me including a Stewardship Renewal card in the mail along with the Diocesan Stewardship prayer.  You probably noticed the large poster “Stewardship:  A Way of Life” as you entered the church.  Why all this focus on Stewardship?

 

The simple answer is that Stewardship is indeed a way of life.  Stewardship is simply one way of understanding our call as disciples of Jesus.  The principles of gratitude, responsibility, accountability, generosity, and sacrifice are essential elements of being a disciple of Jesus.

 

Stewardship is as simple as breathing.  Every breath we take is a gift from God.  Because it is a gift it can not be held, but must be released and returned to God.  Trying to hang on to the many gifts that God has given us is as foolish as trying to hold our breath…  and it would lead to death.

 

This Sunday’s Gospel (luke 16:19-31) teaches us that if we hang on to the gifts God has given us, as the rich man did, we are creating a great chasm between ourselves and God.  Rather than being grateful for all he had received and acting with justice and love (see the Bishops definition of a Christian Steward above), the rich man ignored Lazarus and God.

 

In the coming weeks, as we focus on stewardship as a way of life, may we learn the lesson of the rich man and Lazarus.

 

Peace,

 

Lincoln

Lincoln’s Log 9-12-10

I want to start this article by thinking all you who have already turned in your Parish Vitality Survey and urge those of you who have not yet turned them in to turn them in as soon as possible. It is a wonderful experience to read through the many stories and powerful moments that people have experienced as members of the St. Rose/St. Mary’s community. I am sure you will hear some of these stories in my future homilies and read about them in the Lincoln’s Log down the road. Also, be certain to attend the Parish Vitality gathering on Saturday, September 25 at 5pm at St. Rose or on Sunday, September 26 at 12 noon at St. Mary’s.

Our community, our diocese, our state, and our nation are going through difficult times. As I talk with people, I often get a sense of despair and hopelessness. People do not seem to be looking forward to the future as much as buckling down and trying to survive. At times like this, there is the temptation to turn inward and to care only for ourselves and to protect our own interests and agenda. It is important that we resist that temptation and continue to reach out to those around us who are in need. The Gospel always calls us beyond ourselves.

Our mission statement as a community calls us to dedicate ourselves to lifelong discipleship through prayer, service, and sharing. When times are tough, this is even more important. Reaching out doesn’t just help the person we reach out to. More importantly it heals ourselves. We are made to find ourselves by loving others. Prayer reflects our love for God. Service and sharing embody our love for others.

Many of the stories that have made our parish a Vital Parish are stories of reaching out. Let’s continue to reach out and reflect the image of the God of love who searches out the lost.

Peace,

Lincoln

Lincoln’s Log 9-5-10

Jesus teaching in this weekend’s Gospel sounds harsh. “Anyone who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.” It almost sounds like extortion. “If you don’t give me your money, you can’t be my friend.” But that isn’t who Jesus is. He isn’t making a demand. He is describing the reality of discipleship.

Being a disciple is an all or nothing affair. If we are to receive the gift of being Jesus disciple, we open ourselves totally to the reality that He is God. Jesus is the source of every blessing in our life. Everything we have, even our life itself, is His gift to us. When we accept this gift we are freed to give it away. Discipleship is accepting everything as a gift of God through Jesus, and then returning that gift, in love, to the one who gave it to us. If we try to hold on to the gift as our own possession, it starts to rot in our hands.

This famous prayer by the founder of the Jesuits is a wonderful summary of this teaching. Ignatius knew that everything he had was a gift from God and that the greatest thing he could do would be to return that gift to God, opening himself to receive the giver behind the gift. This week, make this prayer your own by praying in these or similar words:

Take, O Lord, and receive my entire liberty,
my memory, my understanding and my whole will.
All that I am and all that I possess You have given me.
I surrender it all to You to be disposed of according to Your will.
Give me only Your love and Your grace;
with these I will be rich enough,
and will desire nothing more.

– St. Ignatius Loyola (Jesuit) 16th century


Peace,

Lincoln A. Wood

Lincoln’s Log 8-29-10

“Remember not the things of the past, the things of long ago consider not; see, I am doing something new! … In the desert I will make a way, in the wastelands – rivers.” (Isaiah 43:18-19)

By now you have received the mailing about our Parish Vitality Initiative. If you haven’t received a survey yet, stop by the parish office and pick one up. I hope you have taken some time to reflect on the blessings you have received from our wonderful community and to look to the future with hope. I look forward to reading your stories and images of blessing and hope as your survey’s come in.

I also hope you took 10 minutes to reflect on the various areas of ministry in our community and rank our parish as to how we are ministering to one another as disciples. This data will help us to shape our ministry into the future. Mark your calendar for the Parish Vitality gathering on Saturday, September 25 following the 4pm liturgy at St. Rose or Sunday, September 26 following the 10:30am liturgy at St. Mary’s.

Several very practical and more immediate things have also been happening in the midst of ministry. The staff’s offices have been moved from the rectory to 140 Auto Street in the parish school/ministry center. The hours have changed as well. The office in Clintonville (140 Auto) will be open from 7:30am-3:30pm on weekdays. In Bear Creek, the St. Mary’s Parish Center offices will be open from 9am-1pm on Wednesdays (hopefully these hours can expand to 9am-4pm in the near future if we can find the right volunteers).

In the midst of all this change, I keep being reminded of Cardinal Newman’s saying: “To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.” The Spirit is moving in our midst. Let’s respond together!

Peace,
Lincoln

Lincoln’s Log 8-22-10

“Lord, will only a few people be saved?”

It seems like a logical question. There are two ways of answering the question. “Yes” or “No.” But Jesus doesn’t answer the question either way. Why? Because the question assumes a set of criteria that Jesus doesn’t accept.

If Jesus answers, “Yes, only a few people will be saved” what would happen? We would start looking around and trying to figure out who was going to make it and who wouldn’t. A lot of us might give up, figuring that salvation was only for the elite and the perfect. But Jesus teaches “some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

If, instead, Jesus answers, “No, many will be saved” what would happen? I think we would sit back and say to ourselves, “Well then, what is all the fuss about? I’m a pretty decent person. I haven’t murdered anyone so I must be OK.”

Jesus doesn’t answer the question directly because it sets up a standard of salvation and salvation isn’t about requirements. Salvation is a gift and a response to that gift. Jesus says, “People will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God.” Therefore it must be easy, right? But he also says, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.” So it must be tough, right?

We all want to know who is going to heaven, don’t we. How hard is it? What are the requirements? Who meets the standards? But Jesus refuses to answer that kind of question. Look into your heart and as you accept the gift God has given you, you will strive to enter by the narrow gate.

Peace,

Lincoln