By: Fr. Ryan Connors, Dean of Men | Professor of Moral Theology
Today’s Gospel perplexes us. We meet the dishonest steward, a cheat of sorts. Yet, today he receives the Lord’s praise. Needless to say, Christ does not praise the man’s sin. He doesn’t single him out for his dishonesty. Rather, the Lord commends his shrewdness. The Lord urges us to imitate the man’s awareness of his problem and his willingness to act. The Lord says: “For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.”
The message for us is simple: are we, those enlightened by the Gospel, willing to act? Do we recognize our situation and act accordingly? Or, do we exist in a kind of haze? Do we go through life unwilling to change course even when it’s necessary?
The Church identifies three practices necessary for the life of every believer. Those who adopt these three practices demonstrate a certain shrewdness in their spiritual lives:
1. Spiritual reading. The old adage holds true: you cannot love what you do not know. The practice of spiritual reading good books about our Catholic faith is indispensable in the life of every 21st century believer. If our religious education stops in high school, we have a problem. No Catholic should be satisfied with a mediocre understanding of the faith. Like the dishonest steward, we need to recognize our situation and be willing to act. If our situation includes ignorance of the truths of Catholic faith, we should do something about it. The Catechism of the Catholic Church should be in the house of every 21st century Catholic.
Some years ago Cardinal Francis Arinze from Nigeria spoke here in Boston. In those days he was in charge of interreligious dialogue for the Holy See. Someone asked him how we here in Boston could advance dialogue with other religions. First, he said you have to know your own faith. He said: “If you don’t have a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, sell your shoes to buy one.”
2. The rosary. Many people today desire a deeper life of prayer. They want to realize the presence of God. If like the dishonest steward you recognize your situation and want to make a change, the Church’s advice through the ages is simple: pray the rosary. To pray the rosary is nothing else than to contemplate with Mary the events of our Lord’s life. In the rosary, we enter the rhythm of Jesus’s life, seen through the eyes of faith—which are Mary’s eyes. We look at Him with her.
There was a view for a while that the rosary was old-fashioned. That’s just crazy. The recommendations of popes and saints to pray the rosary even every day we could stack up high. In the rosary we meditate on the life of Christ with Mary who knows and loves Him best. Devotion to Our Lady—tender love of the Blessed Virgin Mary, manifest in regular contact with her in the rosary—is not an option for Catholic life.
3. Confession. The fastest way to grow in the spiritual life is a more regular reception of the Sacrament of Penance. Many people today feel burdened by sin. They feel trapped in the events of their past. They desire the grace to face the future with confident hope. If like the dishonest steward, you recognize your situation, act on it. In Confession, and as far as we know, nowhere else, grave sins are forgiven, and God infuses us with His grace to live differently. If you want to grow in faith and love of God, spiritual reading, praying the rosary and receiving the grace of the Sacrament of Penance are indispensable in our Christian life.
Here at Saint John’s, we form priests who desire so much to help their people grow in love of their Catholic faith. We remain grateful for your prayers for all of them. And pray too that God may send more men to lay down their lives as shepherds after the heart of Christ.
Forming Disciples. Proclaiming Jesus Christ.
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