I know the Church calls us to make special sacrifices during Lent, but how does that relate to how I handle my money?
The season of Lent is truly a gift from the Church. It’s a time we are asked to take a step back and consider what is truly important in our lives. And that’s how money comes into play during this season.
The Scriptures are clear that God is the creator of all that exists — and that everything in the universe ultimately belongs to him (Deuteronomy 10:14). And the Catechism describes our role as stewards of providence (No. 2404). A steward is a manager or caretaker.
Lent offers a great opportunity to renew our understanding of what it means to be a steward of providence. This call is transforming, as we recognize that the resources we have aren’t mine, his or hers. They are the Lord’s, and he calls us to use them in ways pleasing to him.
With the influence of the consumer society all around us, it’s easy to get these roles mixed up. Lent helps bring this call to stewardship back into focus. We fulfill that call by growing in holiness. I remember being on a retreat once where the retreat master pointed out that, for most of us, one of the capital sins will be our predominant fault. The priest reminded us that the way to overcome our predominant fault was to grow in its opposing virtue. That’s where the disciplines the Church proposes to us during Lent come in.
Lent is a time to live out our faith and our call to be stewards of providence more deeply, more intensely. What steps can you take to develop a more Godly attitude toward money and possessions? Let’s consider two. First, this is a time to grow in generosity. Make an effort to increase your charitable giving, and watch how it positively impacts your relationship with the Lord and with those around you. Second, deny yourself some of your regular pleasures. This certainly includes fasting and abstaining on the days assigned by the Church, but can also be done in other simple ways. Periodically avoid using salt or pepper at a meal. Don’t use cream or sugar in your next cup of coffee or tea. These little disciplines help us grow in detachment from material things and, with the right attitude, help us grow closer to the Lord.
When we grow as stewards of providence, we do our part to transform society from a culture of consumerism to culture of stewardship. God love you.
Phil Lenahan is president of
Veritas Financial Ministries