The saints have in common their love of the Lord and their willingness to serve Him with the gifts He gave them. We can look to them for examples as we learn to live lives of Christian Stewardship, giving back to God our time, our talents and our financial treasure.
September 5 – Stewardship Lessons from Mother Teresa
August 21 – Pius X (1835-1914), Pope
“I was born poor, I have lived in poverty, and I wish to die poor,” wrote St. Pius X in his will. A humble man, this twentieth century pope was sometimes embarrassed by the pomp of the papal court. He was ordained in 1853 and served as parish priest, chancellor of his diocese, spiritual director of a seminary, and then bishop. Eventually he was named Cardinal and Patriarch of Venice, and in 1903 was elected Pope. St. Pius X saw it as his task “to defend the Catholic faith and to restore all things in Christ” and is remembered for his encyclical, Pascendi, which condemned modernism. He was very interested in liturgical reform and urged laity to participate more actively in Mass. He also encouraged the early and frequent reception of Holy Communion. A gentle, sensitive, pastoral man, St. Pius X was regarded as a saint even in his lifetime. May his example remind us that great things happen when we put our lives at the service of God.
August 20 – Bernard (1090-1153), Abbot & Doctor
Commentators agree that the very gifted St. Bernard would have been named the “Man of the Century” if Time magazine had been published in the 1100s. At 16, he entered a Cistern monastery accompanied by 30 friends and relations, including five brothers and two uncles. His zeal and enthusiasm helped revitalize the order. Within four years, he was named abbot of a new monastery at Clairvaux, and before he died, 68 additional monasteries had been founded. St. Bernard was also an accomplished preacher, a skillful arbiter and peacemaker, and a passionate and articulate writer. “Love is a great thing,” he said, “so long as it continually returns to its fountainhead, flows back to its source, always drawing from there the water which constantly replenishes it. Of all the movements, sensations, and feelings of the soul, love is the only one in which the creature can respond to the Creator and make some sort of similar return however unequal though it be.” It is precisely this love that longs to give back to the Beloved that is the catalyst – and the reward – for good stewardship.
August 19 – John Eudes (1601-1680), Priest
St. John Eudes lived in France and was active in a wide range of ministries. He selflessly cared for the sick during the plague, was renowned as a preacher at parish missions, worked for reform within the Church by starting seminaries for the education of priests, and fostered devotion to the Sacred Heart and the Heart of Mary. He also founded two religious communities, one of which was devoted to the care of women caught up in prostitution. This latter was the result of a woman who challenged him to translate his good intentions into action. “Where are you off to now?” she asked him. “To some church, I suppose, where you’ll gave at the images and think yourself pious. And all the time what is really wanted of you is a decent house for these poor creatures.” Good stewards know that faith is a gift and that God is well pleased when, like St. John Eudes, they put that gift to work to make life better for others.
August 12 – Jane Frances de Chantal (1572-1641), religious
St. Jane Frances de Chantal suffered many losses in her life. Her mother died when she was just 18 months old, three of her six children died in infancy, and her husband died after only seven years of marriage. After her husband’s death, her spiritual director, St. Francis de Sales, helped her organize a religious community for women called the Congregation of the Visitation. This order sought to help the poor and the sick and took its name from the visit of the Virgin Mary to her cousin, Elizabeth. St. Jane Frances directed the order until her death. Some saints are martyred for the faith; St. Jane Frances spoke instead of a “martyrdom of love” which lasts “from the moment we commit ourselves unreservedly to God, until our last breath. I am speaking,” she said, “of great-souled individuals who keep nothing back for themselves, but instead are faithful in love.” Lord, you chose St. Jane Frances to serve you both in marriage and in religious life. By her prayers help us to be faithful in our vocation. Amen.
These reflections are from the book “Steward Saints for Every Day,” Sharon Hueckel, copyright 1999, published by the National Catholic Stewardship Council.