A Summary of the U.S. Bishops' Pastoral Letter
A Disciple's Response
In the early 1990s, the United States Catholic Bishops collectively prayed and reflected on the hallmarks of Christian discipleship. With many solid biblical foundations, the bishops concluded that a disciple of Jesus is truly a thankful, responsible and generous caretaker of God's many blessings. In short, Jesus' disciples practice authentic stewardship.
While the New Testament does not provide a total portrait of the Christian steward all in one place, elements of this image abound in its pages. Based on several parables and the many apostolic instructions, Jesus' disciples understood they were to share their gifts with others.
Guided by Scripture, we believe that the Christian steward is a person whose prayer leads to a constant awareness that God is the creator of all blessings in life's spiritual and material. Jesus presented the ultimate gift to God the gift of his life and we, too, are called to follow in Jesus' footsteps by:
- Receiving God's gifts gratefully
- Cultivating them responsibly
- Sharing them lovingly in justice with others
- Returning them with increase to the Lord
God has entrusted to Catholics the gifts of material creation, individual vocation, and the Church. Gratefully caring for these gifts leads to these tangible examples of stewardship in our daily lives:
- Stewardship of Creation: Respecting life, protecting the environment and developing our world through noble human labor
- Stewardship of Vocation: Faithfully carrying out our unique individual roles in God's plan
- Stewardship of the Church: Prayerfully sharing our time, talent and treasure to fulfill the mission of the parish, diocese and universal Church
Stewardship as a way of life has astonishing implications for our relationships and daily lives. We can experience life-shaping changes of mind and heart as we commit ourselves to the Lord. Recognizing God as the origin of life, we are grateful for the gifts we have received and are eager to use them to show our love for God and one another.
The journey of discipleship is one of intense joy, fulfillment and peace. As Mary the mother of Jesus lived her ministry in a spirit of fidelity and service, we can find the same favor with God by living as authentic stewards of our world, our vocation and our Church