By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — For four nights this month, Bishop Robert Gruss spoke about stewardship — what it is and what it is not — during a parish renewal at St. Anthony Parish. Bishop Gruss, a former priest of the Diocese of Davenport, is bishop of the Diocese of Rapid City, S.D.
Bishop Gruss’ topic for March 12 was “Dominion Is Not What You Think!” The evening was based on the biblical foundations of stewardship. “We want to ask the Lord to renew us over these next four nights,” he said as he began his first talk. “If we encounter the Lord, and ask for his help, we grow in a deeper understanding of his love,” the bishop noted. It is up to each person to be inspired by the Holy Spirit and to accept the invitation to be who that individual is meant to be.
Stewardship, he said, is “not about money. Period. That is a false notion.” Stewardship is not about the concept of time, talent and treasure. It is not a program. Stewardship is “a way of life. It restores our true identity to live our most authentic selves.”
He encouraged Catholics to read “Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response” by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Stewardship is a way of living with the Holy Spirit. Without that relationship, “we are not living as we are called to be. Our true identity will be in need of restoration.” The bishop noted that restoration takes time. He, himself, he said, has not been fully restored. Sin involves a lack of trust, a rejection of God’s love. “We lose our identity.”
Catholics need to be engaged in stewardship as a way of life —vibrant and intentional. He sees from the pulpit the need for restoration. “I have a view from up here of how people do not sing or respond. They are bored to death. They are not alive in the Holy Spirit. We have to rock and roll.”
He spoke of a mission to be faithful and in dominion. What is dominion like? It is the image and likeness of God. It has nothing to do with being dominant or destructive. “We are an icon of Christ. We are not perfect, but we are created in the image and likeness of Christ. We must have great confidence in God’s love for us so that we can be our true selves,” Bishop Gruss said.
He encouraged everyone to take time to pray with the Lord. “We watch too much TV, versus time for prayer. I am here to challenge you and make the cause that Jesus desires more for us. We need to open a relationship with Jesus. I can be confident that he will bring us to heaven. You can’t get there on your own.”
On March 13 he spoke about “What Are Your ‘Isms’ These Days?” which focused on challenges of faithful stewardship. Being a Christian isn’t simply being a good person and doing the right thing. “That diminishes what Christianity is all about. It’s good to do those things, but falls short of what we are about.” In addition to going to church, “you need an intimate, personal relationship with Jesus.”
The topic for the March 14 renewal “A Parish Without Volunteers?” focused on lively stewardship. “I believe in a Catholic parish there should be no volunteers,” Bishop Gruss said. “People say to me, ‘you are nuts.’” What is the definition of a volunteer? “It’s choosing to do something — or not. We can do what we want, when we want. … Discipleship is full time, 24/7, with Christ. It’s a way of life.” People will want to give of their time and talent and gifts out of desire to be true disciples.
On March 15 he spoke on “Comfort or Greatness?” — the spirituality of stewardship. “All along we have been hearing what stops us from being disciples to Jesus.” Bishop Gruss noted that Pope Benedict XVI said, “The world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.” Bishop Gruss identified three parts to the spirituality of stewardship: gratitude, generosity and trust.
Concluding his four-day renewal, Bishop Gruss said Catholics, created in the image and likeness of Christ, must become mission-oriented. That is what stewardship is about.