Recently, I was privileged to be part of the leadership team for the One Call Institute, a process of formation for young pastoral musicians and their adult advocates. The Institute is held on the campus of St. John’s Abbey and University in Collegeville, MN. Our days were framed by moments of prayer and punctuated by bells that ring on the quarter hour. Twice during the week that we were at St. John’s, the bells tolled at unusual times and for extended periods, announcing the death of a monk (a bell tolls once for each year of the monk’s professed life at the abbey). The rhythm of the bells announced the hour, called us to prayer and meals, and reminded us that all time belongs to God. Maybe that is why something one of the monks said during a talk on spirituality seemed to strike so powerfully. Brother David-Paul simply and profoundly urged us: “Each of us has been given much,” he said. “My challenge to you is this: don’t squander it.” Throughout the week, other team members pondered Brother David-Paul’s wisdom, in presentations and also in conversation with one another. We have been given much, and must not squander what we have been given.
Put more positively, Brother David-Paul was encouraging us to live as good stewards of our lives and gifts. None of us knows when our final day on earth will be, and every day we are alive is a gift, as are our faith, talents, relationships, creation — all we “have and are and will be.” (SDR, 3) I could offer many thoughts (and have done so in the past) about the way we steward our time, talents, material and financial resources, and so on. But today, it seems better to simply invite us all to reflect on Brother David-Paul’s challenge: You have been given much. Don’t squander it. How will you grow as a good steward of all you are, have, and will be?