September 19, 2010

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today our Archdiocese observes its 10th Annual Stewardship Awareness Sunday.  Stewardship awareness should happen every Sunday—and every day of the week—but this annual reminder is an excellent opportunity for me to once again say thank you to each of you for your generous stewardship of all God’s gifts!

Stewardship Awareness Sunday is also a time for each of us to remember that everything we have is a gift from God—our minds and hearts, our skills and talents and all our material possessions all comes as free gifts from a generous and loving God.  On this day we are reminded in a special way that we own nothing.  God owns everything, and He shares His gifts with us so that we can share them with others.

Once we accept that everything truly belongs to God, there are two appropriate responses:

The first is to be filled with gratitude for all the blessings God shares with us so generously.

The second is to recognize that we have a responsibility to use our gifts wisely and well in the way that God wants.

Gratitude and responsibility are fundamental characteristics of a Christian steward. Both demand that we be people of prayer.

When we pray, especially in the Eucharist, we give God thanks and praise. We acknowledge His goodness to us, and we express our profound gratitude for all His abundant blessings.

When we pray, we should seek God’s will for the development and use of all His gifts to us. We can only know how God wants us to use our gifts if we turn to Him every day in prayer and ask Him.   

That’s why the theme for this 10th annual Stewardship Sunday is Stewardship: Start with Prayer. Earlier this year I met with more than 300 pastors and stewardship leaders from all regions of our Archdiocese and I asked them to set aside the year 2010 as a time when we all reflect prayerfully on what stewardship means to us individually and as a Church.

Today I am asking you, and every Catholic in our Archdiocese, to join me in reflecting prayerfully on all God’s blessings and on His will for how we develop and share them with others.

Let’s start with prayer.  I encourage you to begin every day with this simple prayer:  Thank you, Father, for all your blessings. And then pray: Lord, what do you want me to do with all the gifts you have given me? Listen to God’s answer. He speaks to us—not necessarily in words—in the stillness of our hearts.

I believe that prayer will lead us all to greater participation in our parishes and a stronger desire to “pay back” God’s goodness by sharing our gifts with our Church and our world.

As I mention in my article in this week’s St. Louis Review, we can never really pay God back for all His goodness to us, but it’s my experience that when we embrace stewardship wholeheartedly through a life of prayer and active participation in our Church’s mission, we find great joy.  Our lives change for the better.  We feel less stress and much more peace because we have given everything back to God and allowed Him to take charge of everything – exactly as He should.

This is my hope and prayer for you on this Stewardship Awareness Sunday.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Archbishop Robert J. Carlson

Archbishop of St. Louis