Volume 1 - Issue 3  



May 24, 2010

Man's Darkened Reason
Financial reform and individual responsibility

With the Financial Reform bill passing the senate it seems appropriate to frame the debate with a diagnosis of causal relationships for the financial crisis that go beyond the merely technical. Major banks and financial services companies on Wall Street must understand their relationship to the broader community. Their decisions strategically and tactically, or quarterly and even transaction by transaction must be rationalized from a perspective of a broader goal of what is in the best interest of their employees and society as a whole, not just their individual shareholders.

The important and appropriate move in corporate America to emphasize the duty of management and the corporate board to the shareholder has led to several unintended consequences. This movement in the corporate sphere extended beyond an emphasis of a duty to the shareholder to an exclusive mantra fails to include the appropriate duties of the corporation to their workers and to society as a whole. The lexicon of corporate America almost completely eliminated the discussion of duty to anyone other than the shareholder. This is a gross generalization, but in large corporations this clearly seems to have been the case, particularly on Wall Street where there was no discussion of responsibility to the society in which the Wall Street firms operated and employees were merely viewed as consumable items.

Corporate boards and management have an immediate and direct duty towards their shareholder. Their duty to society is participatory and in general is not determinative of society’s welfare by their corporation’s individual actions or collectively by their industry. Benedict XVI in Caritas in Veritate refers to man's darkened reason that clouded the ability of the individual to see their responsibility to their coworkers and to the broader society or the common good of the polis. Their reason was darkened by their own selfishness and greed. The reasonable man would understand that they have a clear obligation to the society in which they live as well as to their coworker when they are given positions of responsibility. The canard of "the sole duty to the shareholder" serves as a helpful excuse as to why they can look to their own self-interest and greed yet still fulfill a duty to a higher purpose than themselves. Other estimable duties are discussed such as to the environment, to which every major corporation at the very least pays lip service. Yet in the hierarchy of goods the polis in which they exist and operate must be at the top of those goods to which they owe a duty ... read the full article

As featured in the June 2010, Homiletic and Pastoral Review
Razing the Bastions, Yet Again

In his 1952 Razing the Bastions (Schleifung der Bastionen) Hans Urs von Balthasar challenged the Church to replace any posturing of fear with a more world-friendly embrace. In what proved to be a much disputed work, von Balthasar argued that the Church must leave the security of Catholic isolation and move into a more confident involvement with anti-Catholic worldviews and biases. Sensing the call to be more actively engaged with Protestants as well as non-believers in institutions of learning, in the marketplace, in laboratories and in all ranges of (legitimate) research, as well

as in every aspect of society and culture, the Church left the “Catholic ghetto”, making the middle of the 20th century a unique opportunity to “take every thought captive in obedience to Christ” (2 Cor 10:5). This of course meant risking a sense of surety for the entry into—but hopeful conversion of—those places of modernity where the Church was then still leery to tread.

The call foreshadowed by von Balthasar was vindicated by future Popes and (in part) realized with the Second Vatican Council’s aggiornamento (updating). Paul VI’s first encyclical, Ecclesiam Suam (1964), for example, presented God the Father’s love for sinful man as the fundamental dialogue (a term which appears 81 times in the English edition) in which God makes himself accessible and therefore vulnerable in the sending of his Son. Willing to enter into the “messiness” of human life, God thus invites all to a dialogue of mutual understanding and charity. God longs to bring all things into himself through his Church and, stripping himself of all glory, draws near to wherever the imperfect find themselves. Toward the end of this encyclical, Pope Paul VI called on all Catholics to continue this mission by being as catechetically learned and articulate as possible, by assuming the good will of those with whom they aim to evangelize, and by being sensitive to the needs and histories of others. Above all, charity must mark this exchange and here the Holy Father warned:
It would indeed be a disgrace if our dialogue were marked by arrogance, the use of bared words or offensive bitterness. What gives it its authority is the fact that it affirms the truth, shares with others the gifts of charity, is itself an example of virtue, avoids peremptory language, makes no demands. It is peaceful, has no use for extreme methods, is patient under contradiction and inclines towards generosity ...

read the full article

Good Steward Newsletter – May 2010
Reflecting on God's Gifts With Gratitude and Joy

"Here lies the fundamental challenge that we face: to show the

Church's capacity to promote and form disciples and missionaries who respond to the calling received and to communicate everywhere, in an outpouring of gratitude and joy, the gift of the encounter with Jesus Christ. We have no other treasure but that. We have no other happiness, no other priority, but to be instruments of the Spirit of God, as Church, so that Jesus Christ may be known, followed, loved, adored, announced, and communicated to all, despite difficulties and resistances. This is the best service - his service! - that the Church has to offer people and nations."
(Concluding document, Fifth General Conference of the Latin American and Caribbean Episcopal Conferences, Aparecida, Brazil, 2007, #14)

Bishop Jaime Soto quotes this powerful passage from the 2007 Aparecida Conference as he begins his vision statement for the Diocese of Sacramento. "We have always been a missionary people called to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God." He continues, "Our diocese's mission statement affirms this -- challenging us to be disciples who spread the Gospel by our prayer, our personal witness, our sacramental life, and all the ministries provided by our parishes, schools and other diocesan services."

What a powerful vision -- to be disciples and missionaries who respond to the encounter with our Lord Jesus Christ with gratitude and joy!

Many of us first read words like these in the U.S. bishops' pastoral letter, Stewardship: A Disciple's Response. Here the connection between discipleship and stewardship was clearly made: The encounter with Jesus compels us to follow him. And in following him, we learn to be grateful, accountable, generous and willing to give back to the Lord with increase. We learn to serve him with gratitude and joy -- not counting the cost to ourselves.

Bishop Soto continues with a brief, but powerful, summary of his vision for the diocese he has been called to serve: "As we give thanks to God for the gifts he continues to give our local Church, we are called to meet head-on the challenges and opportunities of our time ...

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(podcast) A Good Steward Receives God’s Gifts Gratefully

“A Good Steward Receives God’s Gifts Gratefully” is the second of our five-part Spanish-language podcast series introducing the concept of Christian Stewardship to the Latino community. The podcast again features a conversational interview with O’Meara

Ferguson Executive Consultant Koren Ruiz, and begins by discussing an exercise called “Inventory of Gratitude” – creating a list of the many ways in which God has blessed each of us in various areas of our lives. Recognizing how God has been generous in our lives will help us to develop an attitude of gratitude, which is a critical step in becoming a better steward of God’s gifts.
The discussion later emphasizes that we are only trustees, and not owners in this world. What we are given comes with a divine expectation that we will use whatever we have for God’s good purposes. Our time, talent and treasure are gifts from God, entrusted to us for a relatively brief time. Because of this, one of our first tasks in becoming better stewards of our gifts is developing an “attitude of gratitude” – acknowledging everything we have received from God, and then discerning how we can best manage and share those gifts according to God’s will.


O LORD, our Lord, how awesome is your name through all the earth!

Upcoming Podcasts:

  A Steward Cultivates God’s Gifts Responsibly
  A Christian Steward Shares God’s Gifts Lovingly
  A Christian Steward Returns God’s Gifts with Increase

“Un buen corresponsable recibe los dones de Dios con actitud de agradecimiento” es el título del segundo podcast en español (de una serie de cinco) para introducir el concepto de Corresponsabilidad Cristiana a la comunidad Latina. Este espacio informativo presenta de nueva cuenta una entrevista interactiva con el Asesor Financiero de O’Meara Ferguson Koren Ruiz, el cual comienza invitando a los audio escuchas a realizar un ejercicio llamado “Inventario de Gratitud” – crear una lista de las muchas maneras en que Dios nos ha bendecido en diferentes áreas de nuestras vidas. Reconocer como Dios ha sido generoso con nosotros nos ayudará a desarrollar una actitud de agradecimiento. De esa manera logaremos tomar un paso fundamental para llegar a ser mejores corresponsables de los dones de Dios.
Más adelante la discusión enfatiza que solamente se nos haya confiado este mundo y que no seamos los dueños de él. Todo aquello que se nos da, viene con la esperanza divina de que usaremos todo lo que tenemos para hacer la voluntad de Dios. Nuestro tiempo, talento y tesoro son dones que Dios nos ha confiado por solo un corto tiempo. Por lo tanto, uno de nuestras primeras tareas para llegar a ser un mejor corresponsable de nuestros dones es desarrollar una “Actitud de Agradecimiento” – estar verdaderamente conscientes de todo lo que hemos recibido de Dios, para así discernir como podemos administrar y compartir esos dones de acuerdo a la voluntad de Dios en nuestras vidas.
Salmo 8:
Oh Señor, soberano nuestro, ¡qué imponente es tu nombre en toda la tierra!

Próximos Podcasts:

  Un corresponsable cultiva responsablemente los dones que recibe de Dios
  Un corresponsable comparte los dones de Dios con amor
  Un corresponsabble cristiano regresa los dones de Dios en mayor proporción

Listen to the podcast

Veni Sancte Spiritus
  Come, Holy Spirit,
send forth the heavenly
radiance of your light.
  Come, father of the poor,
come giver of gifts,
come, light of the heart.
  Greatest comforter,
sweet guest of the soul,
sweet consolation.
  In labor, rest,
in heat, temperance,
in tears, solace.
  O most blessed light,
fill the inmost heart
of your faithful.
  Without your divine will,
there is nothing in man,
nothing is harmless.
  Wash that which is unclean,
water that which is dry,
heal that which is wounded.
  Bend that which is inflexible,
warm that which is chilled,
make right that which is wrong.
  Give to your faithful,
who rely on you,
the sevenfold gifts.
  Give reward to virtue,
give salvation at our passing on,
give eternal joy.
Amen. Alleluia.
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