…if the citizens themselves devote their life to matters of trade, the way will be opened to many vices. Since the foremost tendency of tradesmen is to make money, greed is awakened in the hearts of the citizens through the pursuit of trade. The result is that everything in the city will become venal; good faith will be destroyed and the way opened to all kinds of trickery; each one will work only for his own profit, despising the public good; the cultivation of virtue will fail since honour, virtue’s reward, will be bestowed upon the rich. Thus, in such a city, civic life will necessarily be corrupted.
Our age is marked by increased globalization and commercialization. Today those things of the “life without,” money, power and status for example, are even more pervasive in all parts of our globe. Francis provides us with a succinct reminder of what should be our forma vitae: the life of the Spirit. Our task then is to constantly recall that our life should be the Gospel of Christ and not the propaganda of the world. When distracted by the trappings of the worldly life, we need to redirect our view to the Spirit.
It’s not easy to determine the best ways to act with kindness and mercy. Of course St. Basil the Great, of the fourth century, saw less grey area. He put it quite simply: “The bread which you do not use is the bread of the hungry; the garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of him who is naked; the shoes that you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot; the money that you keep locked away is the money of the poor; the acts of charity that you do not perform are so many injustices that you commit.”
The follower of Christ doesn’t arm herself, in other words, but rather empties herself. That is what the Son of Man dared to do.
To empty ourselves takes all our hearts, all our minds, all our strength, all our souls, all our love. To empty ourselves is to weep for the unborn, and for the ones who were never conceived. It is to weep for the child who never was, and the mother who aborts; for the bully and the bullyer, the soldier and the conscientious objector, the homeless person and the wealthy person. It means to let go–completely–of the delusion that intelligence, willpower, force, or money will win the day.
To empty ourselves is a scandal. To empty ourselves is Christ.
Heather King, “Self Emptying”
Joy is never found in possessing. Sex, power, fame and money are not enough to still the longing within us. Only God is enough. God can’t pour love into a vessel that is already full. When your emotions and desires are moderate it is easier to reach a state of harmony within yourself and with others.
~ Gerry Straub, “Moderation”
When we are enslaved by obsessive desires, we are not free to pray. When our interest in power, money and material things is greater than our longing for God, we are still far from authentic prayer. The deeper we journey into prayer the less interested we are in thoughts rooted in worldly desires and sensory perceptions.
~ Gerry Straub, “Where Love is”
Our obsession with money kills culture. It is the Ultimate Abstraction, a demon that seeks to devour every authentic act of human experience. Anything simply done has the capacity to be done not for itself, but for money.
If authenticity is marketed, sold and negated into fashion, culture is impossible. If the authentic actions of a community are deemed “trends” and manipulated to serve the pockets of the powers, they are stripped of their human value and cannot become all that we envy when we fly to poorer countries and take pictures of their dances, their markets, their food and their joy. What’s needed is a belief in things that can’t be sold.
~Marc Barnes, Money, Death of Culture