We continue the 52-week plan to grow in Catholic Manhood by becoming a better Catholic Son and Catholic Father. 

This week, we start reflecting upon the sixth major habit: Major Habit 6 – Perform Works of Mercy which can be broken down into three smaller habits:

  • Habit 20 – Be an excellent steward of Time, Talent and Treasure
  • Habit 21 – Perform the Corporal Works of Mercy
  • Habit 22 – Perform the Spiritual Works of Mercy

We turn our attention to Habit 20.  

Habit 20 – Be an excellent steward of God’s gifts to support yourself and the Church

Be an excellent steward of God’s gifts to support yourself and the Church so you diligently develop and use the time, talent and treasure God has bestowed upon you to build your worldly vocation and to take on the special and heroic mission God has for you to build His Church.

What is the vocation of a man?

Vocation (from Latin, meaning, “to call”) is the work that God has called each individual man to do.  Every Catholic man is called to do the work of drawing closer to God and growing in holiness and happiness on his path towards the eternal Beatitude of Heaven (Catechism of the Catholic Church: paragraphs, 1, 1024, 1700 [CCC 1, 1024, 1700]).  

Through his baptism, every Catholic man is called to be a priest, prophet, and king (CCC 783-785) who works as a spiritual father to bring many to Jesus Christ and His Holy Catholic Church (CCC 871-872, 898-900; Mt 28:16-20); a man’s spiritual fatherhood is exercised through his individual vocation in marriage (CCC 1603, 1605), Holy Orders, religious life, or as a lay single man.  A Catholic man who is a biological father is explicitly called to evangelize, catechize and lead his children to live as faithful Catholics (CCC 2225-2226).

Each Catholic man of the laity is also called to the vocation of work in the world (CCC 2427-2428) as directed by God (CCC 898-899) to support himself and those entrusted to him and need his care (e.g. wife, children, family, etc.) by providing for their material needs (CCC 2228). 

What is a steward?

A Catholic “steward” is responsible for the proper and profitable management of the vocation to which he is entrusted, including spiritual and physical things for the carrying out of God’s will (CCC 306) to build His Holy Catholic Church. 

Jesus frequently calls on men to be good stewards who are accountable to Him for their productive management of the gifts God has given them: see for example, the parables of the Talents (Mt 25:14-30), the Dishonest Steward (Lk 16:1-13) and the Faithful Servant (Mt 12:35-48).

A Catholic man is “a steward of the Lord’s goods” (CCC 952) who is personally responsible to do the work that God has called him to do (CCC 1914).  The “goods”, or gifts, God has given every man can be considered in terms of time, talent and treasure.

How can a man become a better steward of his Time?

Every man is given a limited amount of time by God to be alive on earth (CCC 1007) during which he will either pursue Heaven (CCC 1023-1029) or by default, end up in Hell (CCC 1033-1035). 

Since a man knows neither the day nor the hour of his death, every Catholic man must always diligently strive to use the precious time God has given him (CCC 2258, 2280) to prepare for his death and Judgment (CCC 1021-1022), which may come at any time (CCC 1036). Jesus repeatedly instructs men to be in a constant state of preparedness (Mt 24:42-44, Mt 25:1-13; Mk 13:33-37; Lk 12:35-40, 21:29-33).

Here are some ways a man can become a better steward of his time:

Practice time stewardship – Fulfilling a man’s vocation requires a man to be a good steward of time by not using time foolishly (Mt 12:13-21; Lk 12:13-21). Grow in the Virtue of Diligence  to manage one’s time to fulfill one’s responsibilities to God and neighbor, including the worship of God, duties to one’s spouse, children, family and neighbors, a man’s worldly vocation, civic responsibilities, and the special calling God gives each man to build His Holy Catholic Church. 

Practice the Presence of God – A man cannot change his past and Jesus instructs men to not worry about the future but to focus on the present day (Mt 6:34), for the Kingdom of God is at hand Mk 1:15; CCC 2612).

Doing God’s will (CCC 2822-2825) requires a man to be vigilant in prayer (CCC 2826) and a man should constantly practice to use each moment to remain in God’s Presence so he can do His will; the man who knows and does God’s will can be assured he is a good steward of God’s gifts.

Follow a routine to sanctify time – To remain in God’s presence and use the gift of time better, a man must strive to make each moment sacred by centering his life upon the Sabbath and the Liturgy: for more, see Habit 10 – Center your life on the Liturgy. 

How can a man become a better steward of his Talents?

Talents may be considered to be virtues, skills and gifts which are uniquely given to every man which he must develop through work (CCC 546, 1880, 1936, 2427, 2429). Jesus reveals that different men receive different talents (CCC 1936) and each will be accountable to provide God a return on the talents he has been given; those who fail will face damnation (Mt 25:14-30). 

Consistent with God’s plan (CCC 306), God builds upon human talents by giving a man special gifts (or charisms) through the Holy Spirit for building up His Church (CCC 791, 951) which are to be accepted and cultivated by each man (CCC 800-801).

Here are some ways a man can become a better steward of his talents:

Relentlessly seek to grow in Virtue Virtues  are good habits (CCC 1803) which battle against the evil habits of  Vices (CCC 1865); Virtues are talents which a man cultivates through stewardship to allow him to  carry out his vocation. Called to Jesus to perfection (Mt 5:48; CCC 2028), the pursuit of Virtue never ends in a man’s life. For more on growing in Virtue, see Habit 19 – Study and Practice the Cardinal Virtues. 

Seek the Gifts of the Holy Spirit to build talents – Human virtues (the Cardinal Virtues of Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance) can be super-naturalized through the Gifts of the Holy Spirit which allow a man to accomplish the holy work of building the Kingdom of God. For more, see Habit 6 – Seek and receive the Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Spirit.

Build worldly skills – Worldly skills are talents which help a man accomplish the work in the world God has called a man to accomplish to provide for his family, serve society (CCC 1880) and build the Church. Skills can be categorized in various ways including basic or advance education, vocational training or professional or technical work, etc. 

Jesus built the worldly skill as a carpenter which He used to build a Church using many practical examples throughout His Gospel (yoke, plough, house built upon rock, Parable of the Builder, etc.).

How can a man become a better steward of his Treasure?

Treasure is something of value that can be stored up like material goods (money, land, possessions, resources, animals, etc.) but can also be understood as things that are not material (holiness, family, friendships, experiences, etc.). Wealth, a word often used as a synonym for treasure, comes from old English words which mean “happiness” or “well-being.”

Jesus commands His disciples to not rely upon “treasures on earth”, material things which degrade, but to rely instead on “treasures in Heaven” which are eternal (Mt 6:19-21) and are accumulated through holiness. 

Jesus warns that men can become slaves to mammon (an Aramaic word which means “wealth”) and cannot serve both mammon and God (Mt 6:24). Riches damage a man’s ability to hear Jesus (Mt 13:22) and can lead a man to become covetous (Lk 12:15) and evil (Mt 12:35). Reliance on possessions is foolish, turns a man away from God (Lk 12:13-21), and leads to destruction, for the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Tm 6:6-10). 

Judas, the son of perdition (Jn 17:12; meaning, “destruction, waste”) and a devil (Jn 6:70-71), was consumed by the Vice of Greed and was a thief (Jn 12:6) who betrayed Jesus for money (Mt 26:15); money does not make Judas happy and he hangs himself (Mt 27:5). 

Here are some ways a man can become a better steward of his treasure:

Examine your conscience for materialism – Many struggle with the desire for material “treasures”, especially in the modern consumer culture. Do a thorough inventory of your material possessions, desires and spending and ask God to reveal sinful materialism for which you are guilty. If you have committed sins, receive the Sacrament of Penance. 

Ask God to deliver you from materialism – As in all things, God hears and answers prayers (Mt 7:7-12); if you desire to be delivered from materialism, ask God to help you. 

Make a plan to use your treasures to serve God – Spend time considering the many treasures through which God has blessed you, including material and non-material treasures. With gratitude, ask God to guide you to be an excellent steward of the treasures He has blessed you with and show you how to use the treasures to serve His will. 

Practice generosity – To become less attached to material things, give more of your material things away to those in need by practicing the Virtue of Generosity to battle the Vice of Greed.  God recognizes and rewards those who support His Church (Mk 12:13-17, 41-44). One of the binding precepts of the Church obligates every Catholic to “assist in the material needs of the Church” (CCC 2042).

God expects His men to help the poor (Mt 25:31-46; Mk 10:17-31) and will present every Catholic man with many opportunities to help those in need (Lk 10:25-37): never miss an opportunity to offer help to someone in need (Lk 3:11, 6:38; CCC 952, 2407). God promises to reward those who are generous to the needy and punish those who are not (Mt 25:34, 41; CCC 2443).

Be frugal and respectful of what God has given – Jesus highlights the sinfulness of wastefulness with the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Lk 15:11-32); “prodigal” comes from a Latin word which means “wasteful.” Catholic men are called to be frugal and respectful to the gifts God has entrusted to their care (CCC 307, 373, 2415-2418, 2455-2457).

This week’s questions

Here are some questions to meditate upon: 

How might I use the time God has given me to draw closer to and better serve Him?

What are some ways I can grow my talents and use my talents in new ways to build Christ’s Holy Catholic Church?

What treasures do I have which could be used to help the poor and needy?

This week’s commitments

Making a habit a reality requires commitment to concrete action. Here are this week’s challenges:

1) After entering into prayer, ask God how He wants you to use your time, talent and treasure to serve Him more and write down what God reveals. 

2) Take one concrete act to be a better steward of your time, talent and treasure. 

Don’t forget to pray with the ECM Daily Gospel Devotional each day.

Consider listening to the EveryCatholicMan.com Gospel Devotional Podcast to be better prepared for Sunday Mass.

Daily Prayer

During the week, pray this short prayer, or one like it, to become an excellent steward of God’s gifts:

Lord Jesus Christ, help me to desire to be a better steward of the gifts of time, talent and treasure You have given me and guide me to specific ways to better use my time, talent and treasure to serve You. Amen.