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Eucherius echoes Psalm 49

“I have seen men raised to the highest point of worldly honor and riches. Fortune seemed to be in their pay, throwing everything to them without their having the trouble of asking or seeking. Their prosperity in all things outdid their very desires. But in a moment they disappeared. Their vast possessions were fled, and the masters themselves were no more.”

Psalm 49
Hear this, all you peoples; listen, all who live in this world, both low and high, rich and poor alike: My mouth will speak words of wisdom; the utterance from my heart will give understanding. I will turn my ear to a proverb; with the harp I will expound my riddle:

Why should I fear when evil days come, when wicked deceivers surround me-those who trust in their wealth and boast of their great riches? No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him-the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough-that he should live on forever and not see decay.
For all can see that wise men die; the foolish and the senseless alike perish and leave their wealth to others. Their tombs will remain their houses forever, their dwellings for endless generations, though they had named lands after themselves. But man, despite his riches, does not endure; he is like the beasts that perish.

This is the fate of those who trust in themselves, and of their followers, who approve their sayings. Selah

Like sheep they are destined for the grave, and death will feed on them. The upright will rule over them in the morning; their forms will decay in the grave, far from their princely mansions.

But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself. Selah

Do not be overawed when a man grows rich, when the splendor of his house increases; for he will take nothing with him when he dies, his splendor will not descend with him. Though while he lived he counted himself blessed—and men praise you when you prosper-he will join the generation of his fathers, who will never see the light of life. A man who has riches without understanding is like the beasts that perish.

Eucherius (c. 380-449) Bishop of Lyon in Voices of the Saints by Bert Ghezzi (New York: Doubleday) 199.

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Cassiodorus: Why and how monks give

“We always enjoy being generous.”

“We do not wish to be generous at the expense of others.”

Cassiodorus (490-585) historian, statesman, and monk, in The Letters of Cassiodorus trans. Thomas Hodgkin (London: Henry Frowde, 1886) 175, 180.

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Stanley Stuber: His yoke is light

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Mt. 11:28-30

“The strange paradox is that as we accept the heavy yoke of Christ, all our burdens become lighter. As we accept a complete stewardship and give ourselves and all that we have to the Kingdom cause, we become rich. At the very heart of Christian stewardship is the act of service, even at great cost. But the wonderful thing is that Christian service does something to us as well as to the people whom we serve. Stewardship is an act of Christian love.”

Stanley I. Stuber in the Illumination quote in the NIV Stewardship Study Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009) 1250.

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Benedict XVI: Almsgiving in Lent

“For this year’s Lenten Message, I wish to spend some time reflecting on the practice of almsgiving, which represents a specific way to assist those in need and, at the same time, an exercise in self-denial to free us from attachment to worldly goods. The force of attraction to material riches and just how categorical our decision must be not to make of them an idol, Jesus confirms in a resolute way: “You cannot serve God and mammon” (Luke 16:13). Almsgiving helps us to overcome this constant temptation, teaching us to respond to our neighbor’s needs and to share with others whatever we possess through divine goodness.

According to the teaching of the Gospel, we are not owners but rather administrators of the goods we possess: these, then, are not to be considered as our exclusive possession, but means through which the Lord calls each one of us to act as a steward of His providence for our neighbor.”

Pope Benedict XVI Message for Lent 2008 from the Vatican 30 October 2007.

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Offertory Prayer: Receive our gifts and with them ourselves!

“O God, who needest not to be enriched with any gifts that we may bring, yet who lovest the cheerful giver, receive these our offerings which we present before thee, and with them ourselves, our souls and our bodies, a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to thee. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.”

Presbyterian Church USA, The Book of Common Worship (Philadelphia: Board of Christian Education of the PCUSA, 1946) 346.

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A Desert Father: Are you giving cheerfully or given to cavilling?

Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7

An old man said, “There are monks who do good works, and the evil one sends them scruples about quite little things, to cause them to lose the fruit of the good they have done. When I happened to be living in Oxyrhynchus near a priest who gave alms to many, a widow came to ask him for some wheat. He said to her, “Bring a sack and I will measure some out for you.” She brought it, and measuring the sack with his hand, he said, “It is a big sack.” Now this filled the widow with shame. I said to him, “Abba, have you sold the wheat?” He said, “No, I gave it to her in charity.” I said to him, “If you gave it all to her in alms, why did you cavil at the amount and fill her with shame?”

The Wisdom of the Desert Fathers: Systematic Sayings from the Anonymous Series of the Apophthegmata Patrum trans. Benedicta Ward S.L.G. (Oxford: SLG Press, 1986), no. 150.

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Charles R. Lane: Are you trusting something other than our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?

Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. Luke 18:25

“This passage from the New Testament, and many, many others stress the threat that money and possessions pose to one’s relationship with Jesus. The point of these passages is not that money in itself is evil. Rather, the point is that wealth has a way of luring us to trust in it. Wealth has a way of convincing us to stake our future on our accumulation of it. Wealth has a way of tricking us into thinking that without it we are nothing. When we fall into this trap, we have started trusting in something other than our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Charles R. Lane in Ask, Thank, Tell: Improving Stewardship Ministry in Your Congregation (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 2006) 39.

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Barsanuphius and John of Gaza: Attachment

“Question: Since every food contains a natural sweetness, it this spiritually harmful to the person who eats it?

Reply: God our Master created this sweetness in each food, and there is no harm in eating of this with thanksgiving. However, one should always guard against attachment; for this is what is harmful to the soul.”

St. Barsanuphius and St. John of Gaza Letters from the Desert: A Selection of Questions and Responses trans. John Chryssavigis (Crestwood, NJ: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2003) 193-194.

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A Prayer from Isaac of Stella

“The heart, dear friends, that covets the sight of God as in a mirror must keep itself free from worldly cares, from harmful, unnecessary and even necessary ones. It must keep itself ever alert through reading, meditation and prayer. Blessed are the pure of heart; they shall see God. May He grant that we so do. Amen.”

Isaac of Stella (c. 1100-1169) in Sermons on the Christian Year volume 1, trans. Hugh McCaffery (Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications, 1979) 209.

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Christine Vladimiroff: What are you doing to maintain both journeys?

“Monastic spirituality teaches us that we are on a journey. The journey is inward to seek God in prayer and silence. Taken alone, we can romanticize this aspect of our life. We can desire to pitch our tent on Mount Tabor and sit with God. We can use the monastery, the Mount, as a nest. But to be monastic there is a parallel journey—the journey outward. We live in community to grow in sensitivity to the needs of others. The only competition allowed is to outstrip each other in showing love and respect. The monastery is then a center to come out of and to invite others into. The key is always to maintain both journeys—inward and outward.”

Christine Vladimiroff OSB in The Monastic Way, ed. by Hannah Ward and Jennifer Wild (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007) 183.

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