STEWARDSHIP IN THE BLEAK MID-WINTER
The support of our parish by stewardship-level giving is a challenge throughout the year, but particularly so during the long stretch of New England winter. Obviously, a faithful Catholic commits no sin by making a prudential judgment on a bad-weather Sunday against trying to get to church on account of the risk. In such an instance one can always send one’s guardian angel to Church at the time the Mass is being offered and then pray at home during the Mass, uniting heart and mind to the sacrifice of the altar. You can thereby “keep Sunday” even if a winter storm is preventing you from physically being in church.
At the same time, one is never dispensed from keeping up with one’s church support. Ideally, the parish church’s stewardship should experience no significant shortfall in the midst of winter. Starting this Sunday I am going to try to add another block to our Stewardship Column which lists some of the parish’s recent expenses. It helps for us all to be aware of the actual costs of maintaining our parish.
This week I am listing three items: 1) The snowremoval cost for the storm of January 20th, $6,800.00; 2) A repair to our boiler in January, $983.00; 3) The Monthly Invoice from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston for our insurances and pay-roll taxes, $12,261.00 each month.
The reaction to comparing these expense numbers against our weekly income should not be “Oh, this is hopeless!”. The reaction should rather be a stimulus to doing your part.
In one of the readings from the Divine Office in the Time after Epiphany, St. Irenaeus sets the gifts of the Christian faithful, of themselves and their “first-fruits”, in the context of the liberty of the New Law of Christ. He says:
With God there is nothing that is purposeless, nothing that is without meaning or illconsidered. Thus, under the old law they consecrated a tithe [10%] of their possessions, whereas those that have received their liberty, set aside all they have for the Lord’s use, and it is because they hope to receive greater blessings that they cheerfully and freely surrender more than a minimum. The poor widow cast the whole of her livelihood into the temple treasury.
We must therefore, make an offering to God and show ourselves in everything grateful to Him who made us, in the purity of our thoughts, the sincerity of our faith, the firmness of our hope and our burning charity, as we offer Him the first-fruits of the creatures that are His. This is the pure offering that the Church alone makes to her Creator, presenting her gift to Him gratefully from His creation. (A Reading from the Treatise of St. Irenaeus ‘Against the Heresies’, Saturday, Week II, Divine Office, A.D. 1970)