Wealth and Possessions
Sin, Blessing or The Natural Results of the Laws of God
The Young and the Old Talk about wealth
Question from The Young - Therese
In the course of researching the thought of man being worth only what he produced, I was struck by a question that has been in the back of my mind for years. How does a person come to understand what is truly a surplus possession? I asked this of my roommate while munching on candy as I was reading. She came, grabbed a candy, and said "this is!", popped into her mouth and gave a great smile... But seriously, this seems to be a valid question. We are supposed to be poor in spirit. We are also to provide for the poor materially if we have the means. We are to live materially as befitting our position. Yet, what does that say practically to Americans?
Living in a very materialistic society where the idols of wealth are erected in every heart, is it really possible to have possessions as "befitting our social position"? Further, opportunities to wealth are tremendous for the talented. (Here I am not considering the position of inherited wealth, but of planned wealth.) When one is considering a career, what are the Gospel considerations that must be taken into account when mapping it out? Good things are not evil. It is attachment of heart for their own sake that can be bad for a person, and worse yet when the thing is so desired even though it might be detrimental to another. Rich people are a necessary part of the social ladder, though. It is they who can encourage the fine arts, give employment to many, etc.
From Unity - the Old
The answer to this question is in parts. 1. Wealth Follows Christianity. 2. Cells in the Body of Christ. 3. Degrees of Wealth Create a Society. 4. The Wealth of a few creates wealth in many. 5. The Poor are necessary. 6. Having possessions is not sinful. 7 Loving money is the root of all evil. 8. Money as power is evil.
1. Wealth Follows Christianity
When I was in Damascus I asked why does this Moslem Government tolerate Christians and Jews when in 1922 they tried to wipe them out and made being Christians and Jews against the law? The answer surprised me. "The Moslem Government realized that the wealth of the country was produced by the Christian and Jewish work ethic, whereas Moslems have no such work ethic and let "Allah will take care of us." Christ said to do what he commanded us to do, and not to worry about what we eat or drink (lilies of the field) and it has been so. Everywhere the Christians went wealth followed - first in Constantinople, which became the richest place in the world, then in Europe, which became the richest place in the world, then in South America, which became the richest place in the world, then in North America, which became the richest place in the world. Each time, however, that the society started loving the wealth more than the laws of God, the wealth went away. The laws of God make us obedient to our parents. We work hard in our studies. We help each other become better. We work hard in our jobs. We are thrifty in our spending. We take care to help our family and friends. We treat our possessions as gifts of God and do not destroy them. We avoid crime and live in safety.
When we do not follow God's laws, we disobey our parents, pursue vices, neglect study, do not take care of our possessions, and spend money on vice. We become lazy, and envy others to the point of vice. The results of this in time is a failed society as in the case of Constantinople, Eastern Europe, Russia, South America and soon North America and Europe. A good example in the 20th Century is Africa, which was progressing under Christian Control, but when they became independent they cast off all Christian teaching and have become the worst case of poverty, starvation, oppression, lack of education, etc. in the history of the world.
2. Cells in the Body of Christ
When we consider people like, Francis of Assisi, St. Bernard, St. Antony of the Desert, and even St. Magdalena, who gave up great wealth to live the lives of the very very poor, should we consider being wealthy as sinful. The answer is absolutely "NO!" The body of Christ, the Church, is made up of many parts and each part has its use in the creation of a perfect society. If everyone became hermits in the Desert, no one would be able to teach the gospel. If everyone gave away all wealth to beg, the beggar would have no one to beg to. Truth is that some are the hands, some are the feet, some are the mouth, and some are the heart. Where I lack in wealth, someone else helps me. Where I lack in prayer, someone else prays for me. Where someone lacks in understanding I help them. All are needed - even the wealthy.
3. Degrees of Wealth Create a Society
Now everyone cannot obtain the same degree of wealth, sometimes because of the lack of talent, sometimes from the lack of help, and sometimes from sickness or catastrophe. Some extreme wealth is luck but most is a combination of hard work and great talent. However, this is very important to a society because not all can be owners. Some have to be workers. Not all can be sellers. Some have to be buyers. The extreme wealthy have created all the great monuments to mans genius. However, without the poor, who would build these monuments, dig the ditches, cut the rocks, chop the trees. In California and Texas we see good examples of the spoiled needing help to create a proper society. In order to survive they had to bring in the very poor to do the work that the spoiled would not do. As a result in time, the Mexicans will become the wealthy (hard work) and the lazy will become the poor. But in any period of time the poor are needed to do the work of the uneducated. The extreme wealthy create the basics for a good society. The middle wealthy create the infrastructure, and the poor do the work.
4. The Wealth of a few creates wealth in many
Consider a group of people who migrate to some Island. Let is say 100 people. One third are women, one third are children, and one third are men. The most logical and liked person will see what has to be done to survive and make a plan. The fact that he is liked, believed, and easy to get along with makes him the leader. Later someone else comes up with a better way to live and they follow him. In the world there are those who lead and those who follow. They follow because they are better off as followers than going on their own. As society grows the wealthy must use the wealth to create jobs and what wealth really buys dreams. People cannot just sit and look at gold, so they put it to use creating their own dreams and this creates jobs for the many. The great artists who want to spend a year designing and building a great chair cannot do so without someone to buy it. The artist is happy for his creation, the rich enjoys the chair, and history sees the greatness of his genius.
5. The Poor are necessary
As said above the poor are necessary for the work in any society. But as I told a man just before the elections in Mexico when Fox became president. When the poor are happy the society is good. The mistake of socialists is they want a society without poor, which cannot happen. They also want a society without the wealthy, which cannot happen. But when the poor are happy in their lot, the society is good. This happens when the society realizes the importance of the poor and no society can exist without them. The bad societies oppress the poor and look down on them. The good societies take care of the poor so that they do not lack basics needs. Some people like being poor because it comes with less responsibility and even less work, at least mentally.
6. Having possessions is not sinful
Possessions are the fruits of hard work and should be taken care of as gifts of God. Using them for the comfort of our family and friends is not sinful. Using them for our station in life is not sinful. Using them for the creation of more wealth is not sinful. Using them for creating more spare time is not sinful. Using them for pride is sinful. Using them to create a false image of ourselves is sinful.
7. Loving money is the root of all evil
Loving money for the sake of money is sinful. Some people just love money. They think that having money makes them somebody. They do not use the money. They just have the money. They carry large amount of money around with them to fell powerful, but will not even spend a dime to give a tip to a waitress. They will out-fumble everyone to not pay a bill. They pay their bills only when they have to, but not at all if they can get away with it. Family members suffer from the lack of simple basics so that he can hang onto his money. He will sit in the cold at night and think about the money he is saving for not turning on the heat. He offers no help to anyone for anything, not his own children or even his father and mother.
8. Money as power is evil
As in the past with Kings and Emperors, and in this century with Dictators and the Money Changers, money as power is the greatest of all evils. It is used to buy loyalty, and oppress its enemies. It creates poverty to create more wealth for the Powerful. It takes down governments and creates new ones for no other reason than to have control over the governments. It creates artificial inflations and depressions to gain in the rise and fall of stocks or the money market. In the process many counties and peoples loose all their wealth as the rich and powerful gave both ways. Buying arms and armies they create wars and push one country against another just
Why should we pursue wealth? The biggest reason is so that we become helpers to others and not a burden to others. I live in Fatima in a simple way but I depend on no one for my food, or shelter and have enough left over to help others. This is why we should pursue wealth - so that we help and are not in need of help.
From the Young:
You give very general rules. But I again ask my question. How does one individually determine surplus with which to give to the poor. If you are wealthy or poor, what is the determining factor for giving? For example, the widow's mite. She gave her all. We normally can't do that. But we just shouldn't sit on all our money either. Or give it all away.
How much does a millionaire give? Or the person below poverty line statistically but rich in more things than his general neighborhood?
Have to run.
From the Old:
You are right. I did not answer this question but it is very subjective.
First one must pursue wealth for good reasons, but not over pursue if it becomes sinful. First we must pursue wealth so that we do not become a burden on our family or society. We must try to become wealthy enough so that no one has to help us, and if we had help on the way to pay it back.
Second we must pursue more wealth than we need so that we can become a giver to others of the excess we have. We must allow for our own old age so that even then we are not a burden to others. If we use our talents to make money in a moral way we help others, the Church, our family, the future of our children, and most of all, we stand without need of others, at least financially.
Third, our possessions should be according to our state in life. If we are the owner of a large business and must have wealthy people over we need whatsoever it takes to generate more wealth because we know we will use it for the greater good of man and glory of God. I believe quality in goods is a glory to God because it shows the talents of good craftsmen which can only be made with a great deal of time and therefore money.
Forth, let your money burn your hands until God tells you what to do with it. Always give what can help people become independent of you. Imprudent alms can make people dependent on the alms and in the end destroy the character of the person. Alms is like any other good business decision, the most good for the least money.
Fifth, money should not make us gluttons in time, goods, food, drink or power.
Sixth, the pursuit of wealth should not interfere with the time needed to love husband or wife, children, God, Church, or anyone else. The use of talents, hard work, wise choices and thriftiness will produce wealth without making it a full time job to the sacrifice of family, Church, God and friends.
In summery, we should pursue wealth to be a giver and not a receiver but not so much as to cause the suffering of those around us. In the end it is God who tells us how much to give.
On a remote 750-acre site near the Everglades, Ave Maria University, the nation's first new Roman Catholic university in four decades, is about to rise from the fields of peppers and tomatoes that stretch to the horizon.
The founder of Ave Maria, Tom Monaghan, is better known as the founder of Domino's Pizza. He has grand plans for the university: majors as varied as theology and hotel management; a Division I football team; three golf courses, including one for donors only; and a new town, Ave Maria, with a commercial center joining the campus.
But his mission is as much religious as educational.
"For 25 years, I've felt the need for a school with more spirituality," said Mr. Monaghan, who has committed $200 million to the university. "The reason God created us was to earn heaven, so we could be with him, and my goal is to help more people get to heaven. You can't follow the rules of God unless you know what they are and why they are. At some Catholic universities, students graduate with their religious faith more shaky than when they arrive."
Ave Maria will be far more conservative than most of the nation's 235 Catholic colleges and universities. While it will be independent of the church, as the major Catholic universities are, it will have no coed dorms and no gay-support groups. Although attending Mass will not be required, Mr. Monaghan says he expects most students to go regularly.
"Ave Maria is for students whose faith is central to their lives," he said. "Maybe 10 percent of Catholics would be interested in it. Seventy-five percent of Catholics don't practice their faith right now. I hope we can do something about that."
Nonetheless, Mr. Monaghan's vision has attracted support from many prominent Catholic conservatives, including William J. Bennett, President Ronald Reagan's education secretary, who has agreed to teach or speak at Ave Maria.
"I'm a Catholic; I'm a great admirer of Tom Monaghan; and a good case can be made for a traditional, strongly proud Catholic university," Dr. Bennett said. "There's a lot of Catholic universities that you wouldn't know were Catholic."
Ave Maria's administrators are conservative Catholics: Father Joseph D. Fessio, the chancellor, was at the center of a dispute last year at the University of San Francisco, a Jesuit institution he attacked for policies like hiring openly gay administrators and letting students perform "The Vagina Monologues" during Lent.
Just how closely Catholic universities must hew to the teachings of the church has been a vexing issue for decades, heating up with the pope's 1990 statement on Catholic higher education, "Ex Corde Ecclesiae," a Latin phrase meaning "From the Heart of the Church" that appears on Ave Maria's logo.
Highly regarded institutions like Georgetown, Notre Dame and Boston College balance their quest for first-rate scholarship from a diverse faculty and a diverse student body against their commitment to a strong religious identity. About a third of the students at Catholic colleges are not Catholics