by Lesle Knop
I can say with certainty that traveling on I-70 eastward toward St. Louis is a trial for a person seeking inner peace.
Even at 10 o’clock at night en route to a conference, I recently felt that I was driving during a rush hour commute.
The final destination of the trip was worth the (slow) trek, however: the biennial Region IX International Catholic Stewardship Conference, which was offered this year in Columbia, Missouri. This year’s conference theme was “To Be in Your Presence and Minister to You.”
The first keynote address, delivered by Father Rickey Valleroy, built on this theme. His talk, “Stewardship, the Heart of Eucharistic Spirituality,” provided a lesson on stewardship from a Catholic perspective.
“How do you want to respond to your baptism?” he asked. “What do we truly believe?”
If the word “Eucharist” means “thanksgiving,” then how are we preparing ourselves to show our gratitude? When we enter the church and bless ourselves with holy water, making the sign of the cross, we are praying even before Mass begins.
During his talk, Father Valleroy, a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, reminded us of the seven precepts of the church:
• To keep holy the day of the Lord’s resurrection: to worship God by participating in Mass every Sunday; to avoid those activities that would hinder renewal of body and soul
• To lead a sacramental life: to receive holy Communion frequently and the sacrament of reconciliation regularly
• To study Catholic teaching: to prepare for confirmation, to be confirmed and advance the cause of Christ
• To observe the marriage laws of the church: to give religious training (by example and word) to one’s children
• To strengthen and support the church: first one’s own parish and diocese, and then the worldwide church
• To do penance: including abstaining from meat and fasting from food on appointed days
• To join in the missionary spirit and apostolate of the church
As a Christian steward, do you remember and follow these precepts about our faith?
Father Valleroy described the “three C’s of our faith”: community, communion and compassion. He defined compassion as Christ’s invitation to “come enter my passion.” When was the last time you showed compassion?
At the conclusion of his talk, he asked, “Do our lives reflect what we celebrate?” I will ponder this question the next time I am stuck in traffic, searching for inner peace, which Father Valleroy reminded me is an unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment marked by frequent attacks of smiling.
I say this with assurance, as I am a seasoned commuter traveling about an hour across three counties to and from the chancery each workday: It helps to be a frequent smiler.