Bishop's Column

Greatness of Soul

This summer, Pope Francis invited Albanian and Italian schoolchildren to spend some time with him at the Vatican. He prepared a speech, but true to form, he abandoned the prepared text when he met with the children. Instead, he spoke from his heart. He welcomed the children, as would a grandfather. He told them that, "the principle element of school is to learn to be magnanimous." Being magnanimous, he said to the children, means "having a big heart, a great spirit, great ideals and the desire to do great things to respond to that which God asks of us."

Pope Francis explained to the children that magnanimity, which means "greatness of soul," is the "virtue… that makes us always look to the horizon." Pope Francis told the children that we become great-souled by "doing daily things well, all of the daily acts, obligations, encounters with people; doing everyday small things with a big heart open to God and to others."

We’re made with a deep desire to have great souls. And the virtue of "doing the daily things well," is at the root of faithful stewardship. As Christ’s disciples, we strive to live out the virtue of magnanimity when we commit to becoming faithful stewards of all that God has given us.

It is in the conscientious cultivation of the virtue of magnanimity, our willingness to, as St. Thomas Aquinas described, "stretch forth the mind to great things," that we may witness the overflowing of God’s grace in our lives.

We begin to live lives of magnanimity by following Christ’s direction to "put out into the deep" in our prayer lives. Eventually, our deep relationship with the Lord permeates our relationships with others and our relationship with the possessions that God has entrusted to us.

When we experience the endless bounty of God’s goodness and mercy in our lives, we desire to share God’s gifts with our neighbors. We share ourselves in the gift of our presence and in the gift of our financial resources. For example, our desire to respond to God’s plan for our lives should be reflected in our own financial and estate plans.

To this end, we’re blessed with the resources of the Catholic Foundation of the Diocese of Lincoln. The staff of the Catholic Foundation is available as a free, confidential resource to any Catholic. They work collaboratively with families and their professional advisors to simplify estate and financial planning-- which can be a daunting process. Throughout the autumn, the Catholic Foundation will hold informational seminars, "A Better Plan," across the diocese. These seminars will help explain the power of incorporating a generous response to God into your estate plan.

Responding to God’s invitation to magnanimity in our financial lives can be a source of great joy, and of great security.

As a priest and bishop, I have been blessed to be the shepherd of people of magnanimity. This is certainly true of the faithful in Southern Nebraska. Together, let us become great stewards, and let us ask God that we might become "great-souled."

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