Blind Obedience

In December, our thoughts are drawn to the event in Bethlehem that occurred over 2,000 years ago. We think about a virgin named Mary and how she gave birth to a child and laid him not in a warm incubator in a spotless maternity ward, but in a trough used for hay in a barn with no heat.

Christmas in the stableWe know this is the promised Redeemer, because we’ve been taught and because as believers we have faith that the story, while perhaps not newspaper reporter accurate, is true. But we’ve had years to figure this out. His first visitors were less informed, but were obedient to God’s word, and this is our lesson.

We recall and are humbled by who the Father chose to be his Son’s first visitors. Simple sheep herders, probably with their dogs and of course the new-born lambs that could not be left behind should wolves appear. They came because the angels told them to go—blind obedience to something they could not have understood.

Later, this stable-born Child and his Mother were visited by three kings who on another mission of blind obedience were seeking a royal child—the “king of the Jews.” Instead, on their knees they paid homage to a boy child born in a barn to parents who were obviously poor. And afterwards, refused to tell King Herod anything. Once again, obedient to a dream, they left for home by another path.

Can we be challenged by the shepherds and kings to say “yes” to God’s plan even though we do not understand fully the result of our obedience? At the Stewardship Foundation, we commit once again to be obedient to our charter in the coming year. Considering the state of the markets this month, it will take diligence and optimism. We are up to the task!

On behalf of staff and board, we pray that 2019 is a happy and rewarding year for you and your families. Peace and blessings from The Stewardship Foundation.

Stewardship is Our Journey

At the core of The Stewardship Foundation’s core beliefs is the biblical story of the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) where Christ teaches that to those who are entrusted with much, whether it be money, assets or non-financial riches, much is expected.

As stewards of our clients’ investment choices, we often reflect on our mission and how well we communicate this to our friends, family, and the clients who entrust us with their financial future everyday.

all saintsAs Peter preached to the early Christians, and what is still our personal challenge today, “Above all, let your love for one another be intense, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace. Whoever preaches, let it be with the words of God; whoever serves, let it be with the strength that God supplies, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet 4:8-11)

Yes, our vocation is to be “good stewards” of other people’s money, and we certainly try hard to do that with strength and without complaining, though since October we’ve been tempted to throw darts at a photo of the Merrill Lynch bull.

According the U.S. Bishop’s Pastoral Letter on Stewardship, under Obstacles to Stewardship, we read…

At times, we can find it far too easy to ignore spiritual realities and to deny religion a role in shaping human and social values. As Catholics who have entered into the mainstream of American society and experienced its advantages, many of us also have been adversely influenced by this secular culture. We know what it is to struggle against selfishness and greed, and we realize that it is harder for many today to accept the challenge of being a Christian steward. It is essential, therefore, that we make a special effort to understand the true meaning of stewardship and live accordingly.

As Christmas approaches, let us be reminded to review our roles of Christian Stewardship, and as the Bishops suggest, look to Mary as the ideal steward, living her life in a spirit of fidelity and service.

Valentine’s Day Explained

You may have read the story about how Valentine’s Day got its name. But did you believe everything you read? Popular lore centers on a priest from Rome in the 3rd century in the time of Emperor Claudius II. One story is that Claudius II had banned marriage because he believed that married men made poor soldiers, so a priest named Valentine performed the Sacrament of Marriage in secret. Needless to say, the Emperor was told about it. He threw Valentine in jail where, as the story goes, Valentine fell in love with the jailer’s daughter, and just before he was executed on February 14, AD 270, sent her a love letter signed “from your Valentine.”

doveAnother story is that Valentine’s Day was celebrated as a festival to celebrate the beginning of Spring. In those days, it was customary for the local boys to draw the name of a local girl from a box to be his girlfriend for the festival. Some of the “instant matches” went on to be lifelong marriages.

According to the Catholic Church, there are three St. Valentines, all sharing February 14th as a feast day. The 1st Valentine was a priest and physician in Rome who comforted the martyrs during the persecution of Emperor Claudius II. This is likely the same Valentine jailed by the Emperor (without the modern twist of fiction about being in love with the jailer’s daughter).

There was also a 2nd St. Valentine, and he too suffered persecution under Emperor Claudius II. This Valentine was the Bishop of Interamna (now Terni) located about 60 miles outside Rome.

The 3rd St. Valentine was also a martyr but in Africa; he with several others was murdered for their faith in God. The point is—all 3 were named Valentine and all 3 gave their lives for love of the Lord and His Church.

After the history of the martyrs, fast-forward to the English poet Chaucer who wrote regarding the coming of Spring, “For this was on St. Valentine’s day when every bird comes forth to choose his mate.” So from these fables, stories, poems, and a few fabrications, February 14 was dedicated to lovers and prompted the sending of letters, the giving of gifts, and all types of signs of affection, one sweetheart to the other, and eventually to everyone in grades 1 through high school during annual valentine card exchange.

In all of this, there’s a Christian message about love of the Lord—a sacrificial love—whereas Christ gave the ultimate gift of salvation. We humans give far less of a sacrifice than either Jesus or the three Valentines by openly and freely expressing our love for family, friends, and spouses.

As Scripture tells us when the scholars of the law tested Him with the question, “Which commandment is the greatest?”, Jesus answered, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind…and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:36-39) Can there be too many valentines? We think not.

On behalf of the Stewardship Foundation, it is our great pleasure to wish the clients and mission-oriented non-profits, and all our “neighbors” a blessed, heart-warming Valentine’s Day 2018. Always know that we are here to serve your charitable giving and gift planning needs, and please refer us to a friend, non-profit, or family member that you think might benefit from our services.