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Mt Carmel Catholic Church


The Stewardship of Prayer

In its earliest days, one discipline defined the activity of the Apostolic Church more than any other. They prayed together. The opening chapter of The Acts of the Apostles notes that immediately after their Lord’s Ascension, the followers of Christ entered the city of Jerusa­lem and made their way "to the upper room where they were staying.” The group included the Apostles, "together with some women, Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” "All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer,” the author of the book, St. Luke, recorded.

At a time of great anticipation and uncertainty, they prayed. Following the Resurrection and the Ascension, they prayed. On the eve of Pentecost, they prayed. At the dawn of the Church, awaiting the coming Holy Spirit, they prayed. Grateful to be called to serve the risen Christ, the Apostolic faithful offered prayers of thanks and prayed for guidance and direction. They gathered together, worshiped and celebrated. They built the kingdom, and they prayed.

First century Christians faced persecution at a level few will ever experience. Though they lived in a far more turbulent time, we wisely model their humility plus their reliance on the One who listened to their prayers and answered. Like the Apostles, a glance to the past shapes a solid reminder of God’s call and points to present and future opportunities for service and ministry. As we look to what may lie ahead, our need for God’s grace and love encourage a celebration of the Spirit’s presence and the Lord’s empowering strength and purpose.

Prayer remains an essential component of spiritual growth and maturity. As thankful individuals and families—contributing members of this local Parish, we too rejoice, and we celebrate. In the Spirit of faith, we also recognize our need of the merciful presence of the Lord. He listens to us and responds to our requests, just as he answered the Apostles, other saints of the church, and the missionaries who helped found the Church in southern Louisiana centuries ago.

The Stewardship of Ministry

The Apostle John, the beloved disciple, penned three fairly short epistles to the First Century faithful, "the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you.” St. John reminded his readers that God had forgiven their sins because of the gracious sacrifice of his son Jesus. "He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.” The ap­propriate response to such a generous gift is one of gratitude and obedience. "The way we may be sure that we know him is to keep his commandments. Whoever keeps his word, the love of God is truly perfected in him. This is the way we may know that we are in union with him: whoever claims to abide in him ought to live just as he lived.” Jesus, though the King of Glory, came to us with a clarity of purpose—to serve, not to be served. Just as he shared with his disciples, as his servants that purpose is rightly ours too.

The heart of the Lord’s instruction in the Gospel rests in the centrality of a healthy attitude. Knowing it was he who gave his life for us, isn’t it right and reasonable for us to offer ourselves completely to Jesus? A truly thankful heart beats within the grateful servant of God who can never do enough for the One to whom he or she owes everything. When we give back from our time, our talents, and of ourselves, we are refashioned more and more into the likeness of Christ.

Within our parish, there are ample opportunities for service. Some of that work requires us to work in the fields, and some of that work is done after we return and come inside to the table, but all of it can be performed to benefit others to the glory of God. "Born in the spirit of faith,” we extend a legacy of sacrificial service and meaningful ministry when we do.

The Stewardship of Finance

The Jewish feasts of the Old Testament were meaningful reminders of God’s blessing—of forgiveness, atonement, harvest, deliverance and more. In a very real way, every time we gather to celebrate Mass and participate in the Eucharist, we celebrate just as meaningfully. When we worship together, we remember our Lord’s atonement and the forgiveness purchased for us, our deliverance from sin and death, and the fruitful promise of an always grow­ing, purposeful Catholic Church.

We have much for which we are rightly thankful, and we are mindful that these things—our health, our homes, our relationships, our call, all of our earthly treasures—are gifts from God’s hands and are entrusted to us with his blessing, that we might live as his own and honor Christ by sharing. We honor our Lord when we give.

Five elements of spiritual giving—the Five Giving Principles—help us "live in a manner worthy of God’s call” as his servants, those "born in the spirit of faith.” The five include the following:

· Giving is planned. It is intentional and involves decisions made thoughtfully, in advance.

· Giving is proportionate, a select percentage of a person's income, no matter how substantial or how modest.

· Giving is sacrificial. Modeled on the example of Jesus, it summons our best—not after expenses, savings or investments, but first, right off the top.

· Giving is a free expression from the heart, neither coerced nor conditional.

· Giving is an act of prayer, offered in thanksgiving from a heart of gratitude.

Every single gift is blessed by God and produces much fruit, meeting needs and reaching all those who benefit from your ministry and your concern. In your meaningful and gracious act of giving, you truly share in improving their quality of life. Blessed through your generosity, your sup­port enables others to experience God’s blessings as well.