Finances in Light of the Call for a Poor Church

Crisis recently featured a stimulating discussion on finances centered on Dave Ramsey’s principles of financial planning. The first piece by Richard Becker, “Of Dave Ramsey, Babies, and Birth Control,” contrasted Ramsey’s approach to finances with Catholic openness to life. The response by Stephen Herreid, “Dave Ramsey—Our Favorite Catechist,” countered by arguing that Ramsey’s principles are all the more important for Catholic families in order to plan wisely for their support.

I had begun writing a response to these pieces in light of Christ’s teaching on wealth in the Gospels, but as I was writing Pope Francis issued Evangelii Gaudium. Immediately after his election, he had already called for “a Church which is poor and for the poor!” (a line renewed in §198). Now he has provided us with much more insight into what that means. The question of wealth, and also its effects on the spiritual life, is really at the heart of the Apostolic Exhortation, as Francis lays out at the beginning:

The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. This is a very real danger for believers too (§2).

For the laity, the question is intimately bound up with the concern over Ramsey’s financial principles: what should Catholics do about the difficulty, which is real, of having a large family within our economic context? Is the family dying out, losing its voice, along with God in the world, drowned out by our own selfish concerns?

My initial response, after reading the two previous articles on Ramsey, was to turn to the Gospel. Matthew 6 alone provides an entire catechesis on the subject:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…. No one can serve two masters…. You cannot serve God and wealth. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear…. But strive [or seek] first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Luke 6:20 goes further, proclaiming: “Blessed are you who are poor;” and after: “woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation” (v.24). There is one overarching theme that emerges from Jesus’s teaching on wealth: seek first the Kingdom and do not allow the anxieties of the world to pull you away from it. Pull together all of your resources to purchase the pearl of great price (Matt 13:45). If you don’t and set your sights on earthly things, you will be like the rich young man and have a difficult road to Heaven (Matt 19:16-30). Storing up earthly wealth does not provide genuine stability in our fragile lives (Luke 12:13). We need to be wise stewards (Matt 25:14-30), but for the Kingdom of God, not for the kingdom of this world. Jesus’s words do not simply apply to a chosen few, but apply to all who would follow him (though the religious life is a more radical way to respond).

In Evangelii Gaudium Francis takes these Gospel principles and applies them to our situation today. Francis first lays out the problems of economics as part of the challenges of today’s world (§§52-60), and later turns to the social dimensions of evangelization (§§176-216). The first section speaks of a problem in direct opposition to the Gospel’s teaching on trust in providence: “The hearts of many people are gripped by fear and desperation, even in the so-called rich countries” (§52). Francis also illuminates another way in which wealth opposes the Gospel and family values:

One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies. The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption (§55).

Questions of financial planning have to be seen in light of the cultural issues that Francis describes. He teaches that the acceptance of God, rather, relativizes money and places concern for the human person at the center (§57).

Francis begins the second section, dealing with social issues, by emphasizing seeking the kingdom: “The Gospel is about the kingdom of God (cf. Lk 4:43); it is about loving God who reigns in our world. To the extent that he reigns within us, the life of society will be a setting for universal fraternity, justice, peace and dignity” (§180). How can the kingdom reign in us through our finances? Francis addresses this through need to live in solidarity with the poor to reform economic systems, but he also speaks of changing our way of life: “I am interested only in helping those who are in thrall to an individualistic, indifferent and self-centered mentality to be freed from those unworthy chains and to attain a way of living and thinking which is more humane, noble and fruitful, and which will bring dignity to their presence on this earth” (§208). Pope Francis does not push this point beyond calling for a “poor Church,” but to genuinely have solidarity with the poor and not to be bound by materialism, it is necessary for Christians to embrace poverty, in some form, themselves.

In order to become a “poor Church for the poor,” I recommend what I think is the best book on Catholic “financial planning” in recent time: Happy Are You Poor: The Simple Life and Spiritual Freedom by Fr. Thomas Dubay. Dubay describes the message of his book as follows: “This book is radical. It is not in the least exaggerated, however. Its contents are simple enough for a schoolboy to grasp, and yet most adults go to their graves without a real feel for. The message is austere, but at the same time it bears tidings of great joy.” Dubay presents the best guidance I have seen on following Jesus’s teaching on the universal call to evangelical poverty. Read this book and seriously consider reordering your finances and way of life around the Gospel!

Returning specifically to the question of financial planning, my own response to the difficulty of raising a large family stems from the mentoring of my pastor, now deceased, at Holy Name of Jesus Church in Harrisburg, PA. Fr. Daniel Mahoney had no mandatory tuition at our parochial school and continually faced pressure at the end of each fiscal year to make up significant shortfalls. Every single year God would provide what was needed at the last minute. Fr. Mahoney would regularly give his last cent to help those in need, but would always have enough to face whatever pressing need arose for himself and the parish. He would often tell me: “Money is meant to be spent,” followed by “God has plenty of it and He will not be outdone in generosity!” I have found that anytime I have risked something for the good of the faith or my family, God has always provided.

To make things more concrete, here are four points to guide finances from a Catholic perspective, which may help to implement the Gospel’s teaching on finances.

  • Do not be afraid. I think there is no bigger shame than when Catholics, including parishes and schools, refrain from doing the work of God, because of fear of finances. Follow God’s will without fear and He will support you.
  • Live simply. I think that we should pursue nothing extravagant and luxurious, even if we do happen to be wealthy. Pope Francis makes this clear when speaking of “spiritual worldliness” found in “seeking not the Lord’s glory but human glory and personal well-being” (93). Living simply also enables one to put one’s wealth more at the service of others.
  • Tithe (literally tenth) and give alms. Our money, and every good thing that we have, comes from God and ultimately belongs to Him. We need to use our resources to serve the Church and we owe the Church and her ministers their due support. Alms consist in assisting the poor and those in need, above and beyond the tithe. If you don’t have money to tithe and give alms, it’s all the more important to do so, to completely dedicate our finances to God and place them within His care.
  • Exercise wise stewardship. To throw prudence out the window would not be wise, except in those cases where God specifically asks us to do so. To make unnecessary purchases, especially in racking up debt, does not follow right reason and should not be supported by presuming God will help us financially when we deliberately make poor choices. Dave Ramsey may help here, especially for those that need help in straightening out financial difficulties. However, Ramsey’s principles should be implemented in light of our faith and placed within the right context. To seek financial security at the expense of family life is to subvert priorities.

The Gospel and the ministry of Pope Francis invite us to “create a prophetic, counter-cultural resistance to the self-centered hedonism of paganism,” a paganism that is beginning to dominate our culture more and more (§193). Evangelical poverty, putting our finances at the service of God and others, is a crucial way to withstand this paganism. Pope Francis issues this invitation to follow Christ: “God asks everything of us, yet at the same time he offers everything to us” (§12). This is another way of saying: “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all else will be added unto you.”

R. Jared Staudt

By

R. Jared Staudt works in the Office of Evangelization and Family Life Ministries of the Archdiocese of Denver. He earned his BA and MA in Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN and his PhD in Systematic Theology from Ave Maria University in Florida. Staudt served previously as a director of religious education in two parishes, taught at the Augustine Institute and the University of Mary, and served as co-editor of the theological journal Nova et Vetera. He and his wife Anne have six children and he is a Benedictine oblate.

  • James Patton

    It would be interesting to view the finances of the man that preaches this.

    • hombre111

      You mean, Pope Francis?

      • James Patton

        Do you think he is poor?

        • TheodoreSeeber

          Materially, yes. As a rule, the Pope, for all the trappings of his office, owns little to nothing himself. Spiritually, Pope Francis is quite wealthy.

          • James Patton

            ” for all the trappings of his office, owns little to nothing himself. ”

            I have heard this from many Fortune 500 executives that have nothing for themselves but it is the trappings of the companies…

            You just figure how much the roof over your head cost you per day and then figure Pope Francis, there will be an incredible difference…:)

            • TheodoreSeeber

              “I have heard this from many Fortune 500 executives that have nothing for themselves but it is the trappings of the companies…”

              Their own IRS filings show the difference. In the case of the Pope however, it’s quite true. His material wealth was stripped away in the loss of the Papal States during the Italian Revolution in the 1800s.

              And in the case of Pope Francis specifically- he’s even rejected most of the trappings of the office. Many luxury car companies donate cars to the Vatican for the advertising alone- Pope Francis drives about in used compact cars instead. Even the Papal Apartments, expanded in Pope Benedict’s day to a whole 6 rooms, was rejected by Pope Francis because it had only one entrance and was “isolated” from people- he’d rather live with the servants than that. Many of the clothes that have been worn by Popes, he’s rejected in favor of a simple white cassock.

              Even in Buenos Aries, he’d donate to the poor- and not just his entire salary as archbishop, but also his time, going out in the streets feeding the homeless.

              So no, you can’t criticize the Pope for failing to practice what he preaches- I’d love to have his heart for the poor, and practice what he preaches.

              • James Patton

                Choice of wealth isn’t a luxury for those that are poor.

                • TheodoreSeeber

                  True. So how much more should it be that those of us who are rich (and I certainly include myself in that) should have a duty to provide for the poor?

                • musicacre

                  Those that had a choice? Are they any less holy? Do you know the lives of the saints at all? Just take Francis of Assisi for one; he was offered wealth, to continue to work for his family business, but he “chose ” poverty. Not because he was bored with wealth and thought it would be cool to be poor. No one humanly speaking deliberately likes to go with out bare essentials!

                  • Clare

                    musicacre- There’s also the Franciscan story of one of the friars taking too much pride in their choosing poverty, was bragging and “talking smack” about the rich. St. Francis jumped all over him about that! St. Francis told him to be grateful to the rich as they are his benefactors!

    • one comment

      I have a question… Is it a sin to be rich? If “yes” then there is no other discussion with you. If the answer is “no” then what is Jesus really trying to tell us about poverty and wealth?

      • James Patton

        That is a different discussion. I am only looking at the hypocrisy at those that preach poverty all the while not living by said teaching.

        • Ford Oxaal

          St. Francis de Sales tells us that when Christ said to go out and sell all you have and give to the poor and follow me, he was not speaking generally — he was not telling, e.g., the father of ten kids to abandon them or sell them into slavery, don a brown robe, and follow him. The hypocrisy you want to find is not there. And we know from the gospels that wealth is not in and of itself sinful. It is not wrong, e.g., that the Vatican has a great art collection. To the contrary, it is incumbent on the Vatican to support the arts and bear culture down through the centuries.

          • James Patton

            When I tell you that I love you — I am not telling you that I love you, e.g., this poster of great means isn’t to abandon his love for others but to actually hate you to provide that love to those that actually matter to me.

            If you don’t understand this post it is because I mirrored your own to show you how ridiculous it was…

            Love

            James…:D

            • Ford Oxaal

              Maybe I am not as clever as you, but I am interested in truth — so spell it out for me if you really have anything truthful to say. I take it you are not a Christian, is that right? So tell us your philosophy on material poverty.

              • James Patton

                My philosophy on material poverty is very simple. Equivalent exchange: In order to obtain something new, a person must pay with something of the same value. Now, I am not going to tell you that you must abide by this, it is for me to live my life according to this philosophy and not be the hypocrite. I have met many Pauline Catholics and Christians but very few that actually are able to distinguish between what is written about Jesus and what is contributed by others…:D

                • Adam__Baum

                  “In order to obtain something new, a person must pay with something of the same value.”

                  It doesn’t work that way. Value is not arbitrary constant, it is something unique to an individual.

                  • James Patton

                    “It doesn’t work that way.”…” because they want something they value more than what they possess”…

                    That is how greed works, Adam, not equivalent exchange.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      If you realized what profound ignorance that response betrayed you wouldn’t have penned it.

                      Every day you buy things with money you value less than the thing you are buying, so apparently you are greedy and you have been since the day in first grade when you swapped peanut butter and grape jelly for peanut butter and strawberry.

                    • James Patton

                      “Every day you buy things with money you value less than the thing you are buying,”

                      Fascinating Adam! That may be how you conduct your financial affairs but that certainly isn’t how I accumulated wealth. I suspect it is your time that is the low value commodity that you convert to wealth, which is why so many people are poor in America today.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      Everything you’ve bought, bartered or swapped for is something you valued more than you gave up. I can’t help that you are so ignorant about economics, but that’s how it works for EVERYBODY, and it’s not unseemly or dishonest.

                    • James Patton

                      This just demonstrates that you are greedy and that makes getting weather easier for people like me. Thank you for the many, many bountiful years of helping me gain wealth. It if wasn’t for people like yourself, I really don’t know how I could have survived…:)

                    • Adam__Baum

                      Weather?

                      No, you are the one that’s greedy, and ignorant. Perhaps if you’d change your attitude, stop thinking you were better than everybody else and hurling accusations because somebody’s trying to disabuse of your superstitions, you might be in a better position to get what you really, really want-mo’ money.

                      I’m not a rich man, I manage my desires and I don’t envy those who do well or assume they are getting ahead at my expense. If I die tomorrow, I know my toys will be treated as junk by my heirs.

                    • James Patton

                      “I’m not a rich man,”

                      I had already established this early on in the discussion with you. Your understanding of wealth is incorrigible but entertaining.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      Your lack of understanding of wealth isn’t entertaining, it’s frightening.

                    • musicacre

                      I don’t usually name-call but you must be prodigiously stupid!

                    • musicacre

                      Actually that’s the monetary system of the whole world; you want a special coffee let’s say at a specialty coffee-shop and you want the coffee more than the $3.50 it costs . You are willing to part with the $3.50 to obtain what means more to you at that moment than $3.50….get it? That’s what Adam was talking about. The person selling the coffee is willing to part with some coffee so they can have what means more to them… the $3.50!!!!

              • Adam__Baum

                There’s a difference between clever and disputatious, Ford.

        • one comment

          He who eats food is not a hypocrite to speak of the misuse of food (such as gluttony). There are many evils of many good things God gives us when they are misused against God’s Good intention. I would ask again, what is Jesus really trying to tell us about poverty and wealth? Is Jesus really saying that money is a sin or is He saying the misuse (love/trust) of money is the sin and especially if we abuse the poor and have no compassion for the poor??

          • James Patton

            What Jesus says about wealth is different than what St. Paul (Saul) and other contributors to the bible claim. That again is a different discussion…;)

            • one comment

              I would have to disagree… there is no contradiction, they are all inspired by the Holy Spirit, Spiritually all on the same page.

              • James Patton

                Again, this is not relevant to the discussion at hand and do not wish to argue about this, at this time

        • Clare

          James Patton- Yes, I agree with you. When Prof. Staudt wrote, ” Follow God’s will without fear and He will support you,” I shook my head in disbelief. So…those families who lose everything they have in typhoons, starving families in third world countries are what…God’s rejects?? The author mentions prudence but it’s important to remember that prudence is a *cardinal* virtue; it can only be developed by accepting life on life’s terms.
          The author quotes the Bible. As an asst. professor of theology, he also ought to be familar with this: “Assist your neighbor according to your ability, but take heed to yourself lest you fall.” ~ Sirach 29:20.
          Prof. Staudt may have the knowledge but he needs to spiritually mature a little bit. It’s not faith; it’s immaturity and pride to assume God will provide just because he’s a good Catholic when there are so, so many other good Catholics who are doing the best they can, are frugal and are still impoverished.
          Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord!

          • James Patton

            Oh that was eloquently received and appreciated, one comment.

          • musicacre

            “He (God) will support you…” doesn’t mean He’s doling out cash. Maybe there are other ways to be supported.

            • Adam__Baum

              Didn’t you know, the Good Lord is an ATM.

      • TheodoreSeeber

        St. Katherine Drexel was rich. Her share of the trust entitled her to a $1000/day income, back in the late 19th and early 20th century. $365,000 a year, all in interest payments.

        She choose instead to live on $1,825/year, and give away the remaining $363,175. Many native american tribes today have schools thanks to her, and she founded a convent.

        That is my answer.

        • one comment

          So her wealth was not a sin but a blessing to many others. Would her wealth have been a sin if she had instead given $1,825/yr away and kept the $363,175 to herself or maybe leaving it to her family?? Would that have been a misuse of her wealth?? These are important questions…. what is Jesus really trying to tell us??

          • TheodoreSeeber

            She took the holy orders- so she had no heirs, other than the convent she founded, which still maintains that trust to this day.

            Charity does indeed begin at home, Fr. Michael J. McGivney teaches us; but Charity, not Prudence, is the cardinal virtue of the order I belong to. That means generosity, which in more modern times Matthew Kelly teaches us is one of the four signs of a dynamic Catholic, a first world Catholic who is in touch with his religion and his faith (the other three signs are prayer, study, and evangelization).

            I like to say a good Catholic never has a savings above basic planning for retirement or capital investment. ALL excess funds are given to those in need; with the trust in God and in *other people’s faith* that if one falls into need because of it, one’s basic needs shall be provided for. Invest in people, not banks, in tangibles, not currency.

            How’s that for mixing the two biggest poverty abatement lay ministries in the United States? I took those teachings from Catholic Workers and Knights of Columbus.

            • one comment

              Thank you for your answer. I have to say I do not believe all “excess funds” above our basic needs for retirement, etc. are wrong to keep or sinful (if we do not give them away). And of course your “basic needs” may differ quite significantly from my “basic needs”. I also believe if the rich man had been willing in his heart to give away all that he had and follow Jesus, Jesus would not have asked him to do so. But God knows our hearts and just how much we cling to this world. And God knows how to pull us up by the roots out of this world, so to speak, and transplant us into Himself and He will do just that if we do as you say; prayer, evangelize, study, and give… may I so humbly but most importantly add Love.

              God Loves a generous giver, one who Loves to give, and without Love (and true compassion for the poor) our giving amounts to nothing. So in giving away ourselves we are prepared to leave all to follow Him, including family and even life itself may be required of us. Some give up much more than money, they lose family for following Christ, they lose Love and are rejected even by their own community and Church. And then some give their lives or are so persecuted to the point of ill health and death. It seems to me money is the easier of all to give away for others. But we are talking about poverty.

              • TheodoreSeeber

                We are talking about a challenge to accept voluntary poverty, to support those who are worse off than us.

                I say that we have a positive duty to deny ourselves security, in exchange for taking care of the poor, and if we did so, there would be no need for the government to do so.

                What is sinful is to put pennies first and people second.

                • Adam__Baum

                  “I say that we have a positive duty to deny ourselves security”

                  Cancel all your insurance, if you really believe that.

                  • me

                    Yes, why have insurance? It’s a superfluous item. Instead give the money away. If your house catches fire, the Lord will provide you with another one.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      Theodore wants us to be the maidens who didn’t conserve their oil.

                  • TheodoreSeeber

                    I only have the insurance that is required by law in the first place.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      Newsflash: If you aren’t carrying sufficient life insurance to protect your family in the event of death, you aren’t pious, but irresponsible.

                    • TheodoreSeeber

                      I have sufficient to pay off the mortgage, which would allow my wife’s business to support my family. I don’t carry extra.

                    • me

                      Only auto insurance then? I think you can get away with all the other ones. Maybe a home owner insurance if you’re paying your mortgage, but why own a house, it’s kind of a superfluous item as well.

                    • TheodoreSeeber

                      Auto, home owner, and mortgage insurance. Owning a house provides me with land that I use to grow veggies for the SVDP.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      Mortgage insurance is not required (and is highly inadvisable, due to its relative expense), so you don’t only have what is legally required, you do carry extra and you really don’t believe in denying yourself security.

                    • TheodoreSeeber

                      For somebody of my credit score, it’s required.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      I suppose a low credit score is a sign of virtue with you. Again, newsflash, I’m sure you think paying your bills on time is knuckling under to usurers, but to me, its the result of one of two things: a personal catastrophe, or an unwillingness to properly order priorities.

                      Tell me again how I shouldn’t pay my debts in order to say “see me, I’m so charitable”.

                      Get off the internet and pay your bills is another answer.

                    • TheodoreSeeber

                      “I suppose a low credit score is a sign of virtue with you.”

                      Yes, but you’re wrong on why I have a low credit score.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      There are only two reasons can’t or won’t. If you can’t, you have no business incurring more debt, if you won’t you are thief.
                      Spare me the explanation. In all candor, I don’t have time for false piety.

                    • TheodoreSeeber

                      The third reason- fraud.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      Ok, so you are dishonest.

                    • TheodoreSeeber

                      No, victim of.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      Based on your commentary here, most likely you were a signatory to a contract you did not understand, because you are too arrogant to have engaged a competent advisor or attorney.

                      That is not fraud, it’s stupidity, and to be clear, yours.

                    • TheodoreSeeber

                      Nope, fraud in the contract, but since those people are allowed to change the terms of the contract after signing, nothing I could do. I will not pay a single penny on it, and nor will I pay a high-priced lawyer to defend something that would be thrown out of court should they ever bother to take it to court.

                      Yep, stupidity on my part trusting anybody in another state, especially Florida.

                • one comment

                  You speak of “duty” but our duty is not a duty at all because we are free. We are not foreigners but citizens, sons and daughters of Heaven, no longer bound by the “duties” of this world. You misrepresent your relationship with Christ. Also we do not “deny” ourselves anything as we are His, ALL of us and ALL we have, not what we choose to “deny” ourselves. Some of this world would like to chain us to “duty” and “exchange” and “security” but we are the hands and feet and eyes and ears of Christ. Free! Free! from the chains of worldly affairs, slave only to our Christ Who now rules in us. You need a right understanding of your place in Heaven and your relationship with the One True God. Then you will understand just what Jesus Christ has given you and requires of you. It really is all in Scripture, really. The Lord showed me Matthew 17:24-27 last night which explains a lot, but God gives us Himself, His Church, the depths of His Word, and all of His Word in prayer and talking and listening to Him, to receive and understand the depths of His Love and in turn we will Love others, even as He does…. pretty amazing!!

                  Would Jesus choose for you to give up all your worldly belongings and follow Him… or would He want you to give up your life itself… or perhaps be rejected and forsaken by family and friends… because you are His and He is yours and He gave up all for sinners and we are His sons and daughters of Heaven, free to give up all too, what a privilege to be united with Christ in life, suffering and death!!

                  • TheodoreSeeber

                    Charity is a tax imposed on us from Heaven, and he who refuses the duty to pay it is not a good citizen of either Heaven or Earth.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      It is, charity is about more than money, and the government isn’t Heaven’s agent.

                    • TheodoreSeeber

                      Absolutely- but I can’t help but think if we were all a bit more like St. Katherine Drexel and a bit less like Ludwig Von Mises, the government would be outspent by private charity.

                    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                      St Paul thought otherwise: “For he is the minister of God to thee for good.” (Rom 13:4)

                    • one comment

                      You know very well this scripture speaks of GOOD authority (minister) NOT evil authority!!

                    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                      It is worth recalling that St Paul’s words, like St Peter’s, “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him &c” (1 Pet 2:14) were written during the reign of Nero.

                      The doctrine of “dominion by grace” was the heresy of Wycliffe and Hus and the later Anabaptists and is subversive of all authority, ecclesiastical or civil.

                    • one comment

                      Our “duty” is to first Love God with all of our heart, mind and soul and then others likewise. All else is fulfilled in this. Not by “human rules” but by the Love of God do we care for our Mothers and Fathers, the poor, the sick, the lost, the sinner… even giving away all we have if God so desires it from us (and maybe to our Father and Mother, or brother or sister, or the homeless man on the street… do you see?). From God flows Charity. Be united with Christ.

                      Matthew 7:5 So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?”

                      6 He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:

                      “‘These people honor me with their lips,
                      but their hearts are far from me.
                      7 They worship me in vain;
                      their teachings are merely human rules.’

                      8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”

                      9 And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ 11 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)— 12 then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. 13 Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”

        • Adam__Baum

          That’s not an answer.

          • musicacre

            Giving examples is good; it is instructive of how another human found courage and meaning through that experience of giving what they had. I would give an example of a more recent person who was wealthy (Texas oilman) and gave some of it -his fortune- away to his children when his wife died, and joined a monastery (here in Canada) and donated the rest there! He lived as a priest and taught as a poor and holy monk for the next 40 years after that!

          • TheodoreSeeber

            It is if you follow her example.

            • Adam__Baum

              So have you?

              • TheodoreSeeber

                I try. I’m far more generous than is likely good for my family. Not just to the church, but in several other areas as well.

                My point is more on radical voluntary poverty, but that is kind of the point of the gospel- other people’s problems ARE our problems.

                • Adam__Baum

                  “I’m far more generous than is likely good for my family.”

                  You do realize that that’s a false generosity, right? There is an order of claims and directing payments to a party which has an inferior claim (knowingly and willingly) is misappropriation, if not theft.

                  • TheodoreSeeber

                    What do you mean by “false generosity”? I know of no such term anywhere in scripture or in the papal encyclicals on economics. I know a few libertarians who claim such a term, but they’re all atheists and I don’t take my lessons on generosity from atheists.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      Imperiling your family, to congratulate yourself on your charitability is false charity. I’m sorry you are monomaniacal, but you can’t read Peter to pay Paul, and if you misdirect moneys to the deteriment of your family as you’ve described, it’s not charity, it’s theft.

                    • TheodoreSeeber

                      Depriving my child of one more set of legos (out of the hundreds we have purchased) to feed a poor family is not theft.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      Except once again, that’s not what you wrote:

                      I’m far more generous than is likely good for my family.”

                      “Depriving my child of one more set of legos (out of the hundreds we have purchased) to feed a poor family is not theft.”

                      No reasonable person would consider those two statements logically complementary, consistent or coherent.

                    • TheodoreSeeber

                      For the maximum good of my family, I’d not be depriving my child of anything. If all I considered was his individual good, then clearly 100% of my income should be spent investing in his future, with none left over for the wider community.

                      I don’t do that. I spend on the wider community as well, and consider it a good object lesson in anti-materialism for my family.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      Your words. not mine.

                      “I’m far more generous than is likely good for my family.”
                      The result is spin.

      • hombre111

        I go back to St. John Chrysostom, who said that wealth is no sin as long as it is shared. But when you have 400 individuals who own more wealth than the bottom 150 million people in America, there is a lot of sharing that needs to be done.

        • Adam__Baum

          Because you practice the idolatry of money. You measure and value everything as money. In many cases, fortunes are the residue of what was already shared and that most wealth can be chopped up the way you think it can be. You are such an ignorant man.

          • hombre111

            After years living among starving people in a slum in South America, I have only one measure: How does this help the weakest of the weak? How does it hurt him?

            • Adam__Baum

              “How does this help the weakest of the weak? How does it hurt him?”

              How would you know? You have no particular education or experience in economics, no demonstrated aptitude, and the history of economics is the history of the road to hell being paved with good intentions, because there are no solutions, just tradeoffs. Today, creditors are artificially being favored over savers, and that should be what the Pope means by people being ruled by finance, not served by it.

              You have a curious definition of “weakest of the weak”. I guarantee you some of those folks will waltz through the “pearly gates” ahead of people who want for nothing, those who willingly engage in sin or countenance it. I’ll bet those folks in South America, trapped by inept and corrupt demogogues like Hugo Chavez will be comforted, but you worry about them, rather than your homosexual ex-priest buddies.

              • hombre111

                ????

                • Adam__Baum

                  ???

            • me

              Hmmmm South America? That explains a lot. Are you a fan of Liberation Theology?

      • Michael Paterson-Seymour

        In Populorum Progressio, Pope Paul VI quotes St Ambrose: “You are not making a gift of what is yours to the poor man, but you are giving him back what is his. You have been appropriating things that are meant to be for the common use of everyone. The earth belongs to everyone, not to the rich” [De Nabute, c. 12, n. 53: PL 14. 747] The pope adds, “No one may appropriate surplus goods solely for his own private use when others lack the bare necessities of life. In short, ‘as the Fathers of the Church and other eminent theologians tell us, the right of private property may never be exercised to the detriment of the common good.’ When ‘private gain and basic community needs conflict with one another,’ it is for the public authorities ‘to seek a solution to these questions, with the active involvement of individual citizens and social groups.’ The quotations are from his letter to the 52nd Social Week at Brest, in L’homme et la révolution urbaine, Lyon: Chronique sociale (1965), 8-9.

        • Adam__Baum

          The converse is the common good can’t obliterate private property, which is the greater danger.

          • Michael Paterson-Seymour

            Adam_Baum writes, “the common good can’t obliterate private property.”

            No, but it can qualify it. Thus, to take one example, the Church teaches that “If certain landed estates impede the general prosperity because they are extensive, unused or poorly used, or because they bring hardship to peoples or are detrimental to the interests of the country, the common good sometimes demands their expropriation.” (Populorum Progressio 24)

            • Adam__Baum

              “If certain landed estates impede the general prosperity because they are extensive, unused or poorly used, or because they bring hardship to peoples or are detrimental to the interests of the country, the common good sometimes demands their expropriation.”

              It’s interesting how that phrase is used to turn private property rights into Swiss cheese.

              Apparently, that defines most Western Governments, who have presided over the secularization of their respective societies and have ledgers full of debt which attests to poor use and hardship to peoples (including those who haven’t even been born).

              • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                That a power may be abused is no argument against its existence.

                One recalls Tocqueville, speaking of the Revolution: “Not only did it consecrate private property, it universalized it. It saw that a still greater number of citizens participated in it. It is thanks to this, gentlemen, that today we need not fear the deadly consequences of socialist ideas which are spread throughout the land. It is because the French Revolution peopled the land of France with ten million property-owners [dix millions de propriétaires] that we can, without danger, allow these doctrines to appear before us.”

                This is the distributism for which Chesterton and Belloc argued.

                • Adam__Baum

                  That a power may be abused is no argument against its existence.

                  Right, just the powers you do not like.

        • me

          Wasn’t Paul VI the pope of the Second Vatican Council? That explains a lot. “The right of private property may never be exercised to the detriment of the common good”. The more I get to know Paul VI and the Second Vatican Council, the more I dislike both.

          • Michael Paterson-Seymour

            He was, but St Ambrose was Archbishop of Milan some sixteen centuries earlier and was one of the “Four Great Doctors”of the Western Church, the others being his pupil St Augustine, St Jerome and Pope Gregory the Great.

  • Marcelus

    excellent article!! thank you

  • hombre111

    Wonderful. Congratulations.

  • I would really like to see this whole issue addressed for a culture such as the U.S., where government has stepped in, usurped and dominates much that Catholic charity once provided freely in the name of Christ:
    – hospital care for the poor and home medical care for the home-bound,
    – care for unwanted or abandoned children,
    – true education in affordable Catholic schools
    – that are not constantly competing with public and private schools on their secular terms, adapting their credentials and values,
    – etc.

    Now, it seems, Catholic dollars offered in charity to fund works that are good and are of life, get mixed with those governed by satan who would fund his works, intentions and plans in the culture of death. Our hopes of helping the poor as they deserve – and not merely further enabling a dependent “entitlement society”- clash.

    Such issues demand of Catholic institutions – it seems to me – the courage to refuse to accept government funding, certification, credentials, titles and approval, and work for God and God alone. Mother Teresa had it right – I think she never accepted government money that came with “strings attached.” Such strings have very heavy chains attached to them.

    • John O’Neill

      I recall from the New Testament that Jesus said that the poor will be with us always; I do not recall reading him say that the Church’s only reason for existing is to provide material goods for everybody.

      • Adam__Baum

        “The Church – I repeat once again – is not a relief organization, an
        enterprise or an NGO, but a community of people, animated by the Holy
        Spirit, who have lived and are living the wonder of the encounter with
        Jesus Christ and want to share this experience of deep joy, the message
        of salvation that the Lord gave us. It is the Holy Spirit who guides the
        Church in this path.”

        Guess Who

        • michaelaw1

          The Church is not a “relief organization” ?

          Where has this guy been, Mars, perhaps, for the past several centuries ?

          • Adam__Baum

            Jorge Mario Bergoglio has been in South America, until earlier this year.

            • michaelaw1

              Very cute. But very pedestrian.

            • John O’Neill

              So far I have learned that Francis is an avid soccer fan, he believes in the redistribution of wealth and he wants all borders removed in Europe and USA. I have not learned much about the deep spirituality of the Holy Catholic Church. It makes me appreciate the deep spirituality and pastoral work of Benedict XVI. Francis seems to want to be the pope that the NY Times would have chosen.

      • michaelaw1

        “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

      • michaelaw1

        People don’t CARE what Jesus did or said. And we are the better and worse for it.

        The optics are, what the Catholic Church is…TODAY, on the planet Earth, 2013.

        Please join us in Reality.

  • Marcelus
  • John Uebersax

    I think perhaps there is a bigger shame (and one, in fact, that has helped produce the trashed American economy): American Christians in general and Catholics in particular have failed to show the moral courage and leadership to keep the country out of endless war.

  • R. Jared Staudt

    Here is an interesting piece by the Washington Post that uses statistical charts to substantiate some of Pope Francis’s economic claims:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/11/26/pope-francis-has-a-few-thoughts-about-the-global-economy-we-added-these-13-charts/

    • me
      • Adam__Baum

        Never confuse corporate executives with capitalists.

    • michaelaw1

      It’s unfortunate that the Washington Post, doesn’t provide statistics on the murders in totalitarian, Socialist governments.

      The voice of these deaths, speak more in volumes, of what Socialism accomplishes, than these fake “statistics”, probably provided by the Vatican.

    • Adam__Baum

      Mr. Staudt, those charts, or any charts do nothing of the kind. Charts do not substantiate any economic claims, they are merely a graphical portrayal of some numerical data.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    I was with you clear up until this sentence:
    “The Gospel and the ministry of Pope Francis invite us to “create a prophetic, counter-cultural resistance to the self-centered hedonism of paganism,” a paganism that is beginning to dominate our culture more and more (§193). ”

    It says nowhere in the document that paganism is beginning to dominate our culture more and more. I’d charge that the self-centered hedonism of paganism, at least in the United States, has dominated our culture entirely for at least the last 50 years, and quite possibly before that. Both of the dominant political cultures certainly are about hedonism, the only question has been material or sexual.

    People my age have *NO IDEA* how to live simply- because we’ve never had to. Even the poorest of the poor in my circle of acquaintances are online, tied in, have at least one TV set and one car.

    • michaelaw1

      It’s called “The New Poverty”.

  • MyKCMom

    Have you listened to the show? Reading this article it seems like it comes from the headline culture – someone who thinks they have an understanding of something just because they read 2 articles, but haven’t done the real research themselves. Oh I opened the Bible and found a verse – Really? How Protestant of you. The Bible is full of financial verses, and we could tit for tat, but ironically Ramsey bases most of his plan on the Bible. Also, Ramsey’s goal is to get people free – free from overspending, free from debt, free from being a slave to the master so that Christians can give to the church…. How uncatholic of him (sarcasm). Catholics have enough problems with the Evangelical crowd, something Satan delights in, because we have way more in common than most think. The last thing we need to do is start acting like protestant protesters in ignorance…. Really, I’m appalled. Maybe we should start looking at our Pope’s call to unity and stop fighting pseudo devils for what gain? How Catholic of us (sarcasm again).

    • TheodoreSeeber

      If Paul, in the prisons of Rome, was free, in what way are you chained by material wealth?

  • michaelaw1

    The Catholic Church, has surely entered another Dark Age, with this Socialist, so called,
    Liberation Philosophy.

    I say PUT THE SQUEEZE on “charity”, on the local churches and the myriad of local programs, it has ongoing, and SQUEEZE em until they change back !

    Local Catholic Churches are “tarred with the same brush”, and that’s TOO BAD !

    Get ’em where it hurt$ !

    • TheodoreSeeber

      Because, of course, the best way to encourage private charity is to cut off private charity?

      Far better a church of and for the poor, than a government of welfare. Far better a government of welfare, than denying the primacy of the human life in our morality.

      • michaelaw1

        Unfortunately, since most of us, live on the planet Earth, and In the REAL WORLD, ‘primacy of human life in morality’, WALKS,

        And everything else Talks !

        • TheodoreSeeber

          I am autistic, so I do not understand your idiom. Far too often, it is money that talks- and human life takes a back seat to profit, including in the United States, the richest country on the earth, where we kill some 700,000 people a year in the name of material wealth through the sins of abortion and euthanasia.

          • michaelaw1

            It’s Socialism and the destruction of Capitalism, is what Pope Francis, and his fake Catholic priests, want.

            You see with Socialism, there will be No Catholic church, as well.

            Ask those who lived under the Soviet Union’s boot, which is better.

            • Marcelus

              Michael do you consider yourself Catholic? Or even Christian?? I think you may be posting in the wrong forum.?

              • michaelaw1

                Oh I see, I’m the…”Devil” or “Evil Incarnate” ?

                How original you are. This is right out of RULES FOR RADICALS.

                The lengths a person, will go NOT to answer a question, is astounding.

                Your intellectual depth is showing.

                • Marcelus

                  No you are not the devil. Cmon. You are just mixing up a lot of stuff, confused barely. That’s ok. And what is the question you mentinn?

                  • michaelaw1

                    Eeeeeeeeeeesh, conversing with you is like root canal.

                    Very boorish behavior.

                    Just go your own special way.

            • Marcelus

              Next conclave I’m getting my Cardinal to vote for you swear.

            • TheodoreSeeber

              If you’ll notice, in this latest Apostolic Exhortation, Pope Francis also spoke against socialism and a permanent welfare state.

          • Adam__Baum

            “we kill some 700,000 people a year in the name of material wealth through the sins of abortion”.

            Uh, most abortions are matters of embarrassment or inconvenience. If they were matters of material wealth, the death industry wouldn’t be built on explicit and implicit subsidies.

            • TheodoreSeeber

              They are matters of material wealth- which is precisely why the welfare industry has explicit and implicit subsidies for it to encourage it. Kill off the poor, welfare becomes cheaper.

              • Adam__Baum

                No. Our local abortuary isn’t busily killing “the poor” in near the numbers you think. There’s plenty of professional, college educated women seeking its services.

                The welfare state requires dependency to survive. That’s why it encourages young single women to become pregnant without benefit of matrimony and has elevated “single moms” to a position of honor.

                The people who will be terminated for cost will be you and me. We aren’t pliable and won’t become reliable voters, so the IPAB will be busy looking for ways to hurry us along.

                This will be accomplished with the acquiesce of the weak minded statists who will enthusiastically support the state when it denies benefits to the elderly in order to direct medicine “where it can do the most good”, with a crude utilitarian calculation designed to benefit politicians.

                It’s already started.

                http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/seniors-hurt-obamacare-article-1.1504414

                • me

                  Obama will take care of you from cradle to grave. Have you seen The Life of Julia little video? Utterly disgusting.

                  • Adam__Baum

                    I kind of thought Julia was the female alter ego of Obama.

                • TheodoreSeeber

                  Planned Parenthood tells single mothers in high school that they’re going to end up homeless in a cardboard box if they don’t abort. But you’re also right on the Euthanasia.

                  • Adam__Baum

                    That’s a matter of fraud in the inducement not a matter of “material wealth” in the manner that you described, that despicable organization is engaging in a pursuit of rent-seeking, they are not attempting to minimize the cost of welfare.

                    I understand you have a problem, but if you can’t follow your own argument, then stop arguing for its own sake.

                    • TheodoreSeeber

                      Fraud it is- but the decision to abort is made on fears about material wealth.

                      Rent seeking is another atheistic materialist term that I reject.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      “Rent seeking is another atheistic materialist term that I reject.”
                      Then call it what you want. They seek to draw a dishonest living off the government. A sewer by any other name smells as odious.

                      Theodore, if your wife ever hits you in frustration, be advised
                      it’s your fault. If she divorces you, it’s your fault.
                      Autism isn’t an excuse for your continual exhibition of lying and mental disorder. It might be the wrong diagnosis. You need Fr. Amorth or his successor.

                    • TheodoreSeeber

                      “They seek to draw a dishonest living off the government. ”

                      Nobody draws a living off the government at all. They get income from fraud in the MARKET. The government is just a special form of this fraud, which is endemic in any free market.

                      I’m sure the entire world is my fault already- and I suspect capitalists of being far more demon possessed than I am.

    • Marcelus

      Its liberation theology, not philosofy…

      • michaelaw1

        Thank you Marcelus…get to excited, just thinking of what Francis did here.

        • Marcelus

          No problem. But please do not think this has anything to do with socialism ! Nothing further from the pope:s message. Bless you

          • michaelaw1

            Oh is it really ? Well, I’ll bite.

            I guess Francis met with this so called ‘Priest’ and alleged philosopher, in September, and it was just a…coincidence, huh ?

            Pope meets with liberation theology pioneer
            Joshua J. McElwee | Sep. 25, 2013

            http://ncronline.org/news/theology/pope-meets-liberation-theology-pioneer

            “If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s a duck!”

            Please.

            • Marcelus

              Well for al that matters how also met Putin. No blood on his ha.D’s. Does that. make him KGB? Read read read please before you jump to conclusions. Learn what he did I .my country Argentina facing the spiteful left wing gvnt. And then lete know what you think. Learn how he kept Jesuits at bay back in the 70 s

              • michaelaw1

                When you want to answer the question, let us know.

  • Paul Tran

    I have a problem with defining the “poor” as there are the spiritually poor as well as the materialistically poor , and there are also those who make a living out of playing at being poor.
    In today’s (liberal) society, being “poor” can be a postion of empowerment where it is used to extort a living from society and a means to be idle. I have seen too many folks who claim to be impoverished yet no matter how much help is given they never better themselves. Strangely, some of these so-called poor people have nothing but scorn for the very society that feeds them.

    • Clare

      This includes Catholics who want large families, can’t afford it but create them anyway and call it “God’s will”. Meanwhile, people like me who are in poverty (I own neither a car nor T.V, get free wif-fi through the generosity of my roommate; I’m staying in her living room, paying for it through doing the housework) are paying for their spiritualized irresponsibility and imprudence through my hard earned income (when I did have income).

      • Adam__Baum

        I doubt that there are real practicing Catholics that are on the dole in any substantial numbers. Indeed if the statistics are to be believed, more on avoiding conception, because it’s their will.

        Most of the people who have “large families, can’t afford it but create them anyway” (whether it’s one or ten) are usually the irreligious products of irreligious households, who often become pregnant without a father (let alone a marriage license).

        This is not speculation, I used to work as a Medicaid/Medicare auditor, and did several engagements, where we had full access to the medical records, because that’s how you substantiate there was a compensable pregnancy and in reading thousands of cases that were randomly selected, never once read medical or caseworker notes that indicated that the patient became pregnant by a husband due to the belief that they were required to reproduce for religious reasons.

        • Clare

          Adam- I defer to your knowledge and experience in this matter. My point is that Catholics, too, are capable of living in fantasyland and having a sense of “entitlement”. In fact, there have been a few posts here at Crisis from parents of big broods who said they are receiving aid and have expressed an attitude of entitlement of having everybody else pay for their “Catholic lifestyle”. Heck, I’m trying to find a job to support myself, can’t afford to support them too! But, again, I defer to your knowledge and experience as far as statistics and cases go.

          • Adam__Baum

            I’m not saying it never happens, and I do remember the posts that your refer to-but we know unwed teenagers are almost certain to be on public assistance at some time.

        • Kathe

          Oh please. I’ve never had a doctor ask me *why* I got pregnant, never. They aren’t interested, and most women would evade if pressed as it’s irrelevant to prenatal care in the vast majority of cases (barring exceptional circumstances). Such a thing is not recorded in medical notes because it’s simply not discussed frankly in that context. You cannot presume to know.

          • Adam__Baum

            Oh please. Who said a doctor asked you why you got pregnant? I didn’t.

            You really shouldn’t make absolute statements about things that you do not know anything about.

            You most likely didn’t find out you were pregnant by the unexpected absence of menses in high school, and then claimed to the doctor, “but I did it standing up” or showed up in the ER with a septic abortion, claiming that your last period was ongoing for the past three weeks, or at the age of 13 or 14 and evading your doctor in a way that triggered inquiries to determine if you were impregnated in a way that requires mandatory reporting, so your experience is radically different than the typical MA recipient.

            I’ll repeat to you something that was told to me, by the director of bioinformatics at a large MCO “you need to get out of your suburban bubble”. We recovered a cool million plus on that audit.

            Your experience isn’t relevant to the inquiries that routinely occur in MA populations, where physical abuse, rape, substance abuse, inadequate nutrition and at-risk pregnancies are common. Even if not explicitly asked, medical notes do provide such information, if only tangentially, since age is recorded. I reviewed plenty of notes where the patient was under the legal age to marry, and plenty more where the inquiries revealed aspects of their life.

            Secondly, MA recipients often have social workers, who take copious notes which are virtual dossiers on the individual’s life. These notes, if they are available, accompany a clinician’s notes.

            My favorite one was related to a 16 y.o. single female who refused grief counseling after a sponaneous abortion, because she fully intended to become pregnant the following year.

      • 12Maria34

        My grandparents were very poor. My grandma was a housewife and my grandpa was just a private soldier. They raise 11 children, 9 of whom have degrees and two did not because they choose to marry early. From the stories, when things get tough my grandma would always say, let us pray the rosary and God will provide. My grandfather was strict disciplinarian and emphasize education and hard work on the children. Some of the children have double degrees and my father was one of the designer of hydroelectric plant in the Philippines. Some of the grandchildren have double, triple degrees and post graduate degrees and most went to Catholic schools. When things get tougher in our generation, we looked at our grandparents for inspiration and most of all, we pray. Our great devotion to our Lady was instilled in us by my grandmother who ONLY had first grade education and my grandfather was epitome of hard work who had ONLY reached third grade education. As a Catholic, suffering is part of us and we lift it up to God, trusting that He is in control. To be poor materially is not comparable to spiritual poverty. Since you wrote you are getting free Wi-Fi, it means that you have a computer. You are not poor in my vocabulary.

        • Clare

          12Maria34- I’m confused. You addressed your post to me but what does your post have to do with mine? I’m not complaining about large families. I’m complaining about Catholic parents who have large families, can’t afford it, have them anyway so go on aid while continuing to make babies and call it “God’s will”. My laptop I bought when I had a job. I bought it on sale a few years ago for three hundred dollars. I was forced to quit my job when my car broke down as a car is required for what I did. This means I have zero income coming in, do not have enough for rent so my roommate is letting me stay provided that I do the housework. Yes, I am poor.
          Times are different now, by the way. Some of these Online job applications can take up to two hours to fill out, can’t always get a reservation at the library, which only allows 20 minutes at a time. A laptop for job searching is a necessity!
          If you have family/loved ones in the Philippines, I hope everyone is safe!

          • 12Maria34

            “You addressed your post to me but what does your post have to do with mine?” — I just showed you a real life example of a big poor family that did not in anyway asked government assistance but relied heavily in God’s providence combined with hard work.

            “I’m complaining about Catholic parents who have large families, can’t afford it, have them anyway so go on aid while continuing to make babies and call it “God’s will”.” — substantiate your claim as to how many Catholic large families with facts are on the welfare program and compare that to those families who just make having big family to get welfare.

            ” I was forced to quit my job when my car broke down as a car is required for what I did.” — you do not quit a job because you do not have a car. Request to be reassigned. If you are a good employee, good managers will consider your situation. I had to go to work riding a bus before for 2hrs one way. I always thought that I need to pay bills and not to be a burden to others. I work regardless of how I get there. You choose not work because of not having a car? My father had to WALK an hr to be in school. My nieces go to Catholic school riding a bus for 45 minutes. We believe in Catholic virtue and in Catholic education.

            “Yes, I am poor.” — you are AMERICAN poor. You do not know what real poverty is. You choose to be in ZERO income. You made a choice. It is not an option for me to not have a car as a hindrance to making a living.

            “Times are different now, by the way. Some of these Online job applications can take up to two hours to fill out, can’t always get a reservation at the library, which only allows 20 minutes at a time. A laptop for job searching is a necessity!” — be creative. One of the things I have great admiration for Americans is their ability to adopt and respond to the changing times. When I was fired from work, I did whatever work to survive but I did not think I am poor because I saw and live in it what it is to be poor. Some people have a hard time looking for work because they are picky on the job description and the amount they are going to be paid. I just grab whatever pays the bill for the moment and rethink my situation when I actually have a work.

            “If you have family/loved ones in the Philippines, I hope everyone is safe!” — thank you, all are safe as they are not in the region where is happened.
            Clare, the only thing I can assure you … I DO have a hard time on this but try to trust God. I do not know what are your faith background is but I can assure you that none of the Catholic big family I know are on welfare, neither here in US nor Philippines. Also, before I had to walk to go to work (30 to 45 min) and I was crying praying the rosary because it was so cold. I have to work and pay bills and pay my rent to a friend. I was sleeping in the sofa.
            What is poor? How to define it? Are we poor because we do not have an apartment or a car or a wi-fi? Are we poor when we start asking help? Are we poor when we are already in the streets? Are we poor according to the standards of others’ properties or material wealth? Are we poor according to the perception of others or according to our definition of poor? When we think of poor, is it just material goods?
            Material goods come and go but WHO we are in relationship with our Blessed Lord is our wealth.
            God’s blessings of peace and joy!

            • Clare

              12Maria34- This is my last post to you. You don’t even know what kind of job I had and you’re telling me that my reason for having to quit was insufficient? Seriously?? I was an in-home service provider, no way to be reassigned. A car *is* required for this work. It’s in the contract, office needs copy of auto insurance to be put in my file. I appreciate what you’re trying to get me to understand–perspective and attitude and yes, point well taken. 🙂 I don’t appreciate your assumptions, however. I’ve applied for jobs that I qualify for, even applied to McDonald’s. I’m not a spoiled child, am ok with humble work if it pays the bills. I’ve gone without a car before, took the bus and, yes, walked quite a ways to get to my job at that time. I’m fine with it. It’s pride, though, to assume God will rain down manna from heaven when things get tough financially just because somebody’s a good Catholic. Nobody’s that special. There are a lot of good Catholics who are impoverished. The Bible says that the rain and sun fall on both the righteous and the wicked. No one’s exempt from life being life.
              As Adam Baum pointed out as he worked for Medicaid, no, not too many Catholic families are on aid. I love large families, just want parents to understand that, if they can’t afford it, learn to control themselves in the bedroom. Temperance is also a virtue.
              I’m glad everyone you know in the Philippines is ok, will continue to pray for the Philippines.
              Peace and joy to you too, Maria! 🙂

              • 12Maria34

                Dear Clare,

                God’s blessings of peace and joy!

                “This is my last post to you. You don’t even know what kind of job I had and you’re telling me that my reason for having to quit was insufficient? Seriously?? I was an in-home service provider, no way to be reassigned. A car *is* required for this work.” — my assumption was you were a person working either in the field like construction or sales. I wrote what I wrote because it was a fact for me that car is not needed to find a job. Aside from this, I know of a lot of people who looks for work without a car. It was a factual reality for me. My first job in America was taking care of
                old people (home companion) and was paid $50 for 24 hrs ($2.08/hr) in 1991. I had to tell the agency that I did not have
                car. The agency was giving more money to those who have cars as the patients wanted to get out of the house. The care taker for those kind of patients were paid 2x more. I accepted the job because it was free food and I have a roof. I was sleeping in the sofa. Then, friends told me to get a license as CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) or HHA (Home Health Aid) to get more money so that I can buy a car. I finished and got both licenses but I got a job as telephone operator. It was less money, $5/hr. I was making $40/day and this time, I have to pay for food and more money for rent as I was going to my friend’s apartment daily instead of just weekend. The worst part is that I went home early because I finished work early, no incoming calls, thus, even less money. My strategy was to have an American company on my
                resume. As you can see I cannot and could not complain that I am poor because I knew there were people who really have nothing.

                “I appreciate what you’re trying to get me to understand–perspective and attitude and yes, point well taken. :)” — You are most welcome. I am glad you saw the other side of the coin.

                “I don’t appreciate your assumptions, however. ” — in experiments or problems, you have to assume to have a starting point. Otherwise, you do not get anywhere. In solving problems we have to assume to see if our idea is correct. if not, we have to
                try again. Thomas Edison who invented the Fluorescent lamp once said: ” I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” — he assumed that it will work.

                “It’s pride, though, to assume God will rain down manna from heaven when things get tough financially just because
                somebody’s a good Catholic.” — as far as I know, good Catholics do not in any way assume that God will rain down manna
                because they are good. As far as I know, good Catholics are tolerant of suffering (the Catholic church has full of history on this – the lives of the Saints. You can try reading St Francis of Assisi) Also, as far as I know only GOD is good. The rest, we just aspire to be good.

                “Nobody’s that special.” — No Clare! You are special! God gave His only Son so that we may have eternal life. It is up to us to accept or reject His love.

                “There are a lot of good Catholics who are impoverished.” — Very true. Just look at Latin America and Philippines, materially impoverished.

                “The Bible says that the rain and sun fall on both the righteous and the wicked.” — This is true, Matthew 5:45. My question is, will you do the right thing or not? We Catholics believe in eternal
                life, thus, we aspire to do good. God loved us, thus, His love falls on us but how we accept His love is another story. What side are you?

                My niece is one of the top 5 in the graduating class. One night she was crying. She said she was not good in sciences. Before praying the rosary, I told everyone that maybe we can start praying it in Latin. Everyone was cool. It was their first time to read in Latin. At the end of the rosary, I told my niece that science is just like Latin. We do not know it but we try to give our best. She smiled.

                In suffering and in pain, sometimes, we blame others for our situation or try to justify the situation. Sometimes, we have to think and pause, are we part of the problem or are we part of the solution?

                I truly believe in St Augustine’s words: Our Heart is Restless Until It Rests In Thee. — our life’s journey is more beautiful if our being is centered on God.

                I would like to apologized for this long posting. I part and wishing you a joyful journey.

                God’s blessings of peace and joy!
                Maria

            • Adam__Baum

              “”Yes, I am poor.” — you are AMERICAN poor.”

              “What is poor? How to define it? Are we poor because we do not have an apartment or a car or a wi-fi? Are we poor when we start asking help? Are we poor when we are already in the streets? Are we poor according to the standards of others’ properties or material wealth? Are we poor according to the perception of others or according to our definition of poor? When we think of poor, is it just material goods?”

              Maria, I beg you to please, please keep posting here.
              You have a deep understanding of poverty, that its more than material want or lack of money and your perspective is sorely needed here.

              • 12Maria34

                Dear Adam,

                God’s blessings of peace and joy!

                Thank you so very much for your kind words. I will try to post. I am not really good in writing. I just responded to Clare because we Catholics have different perspective of poverty. I strongly believe that the church must address the poverty of the soul in order to address properly the material poverty.

                Usually, I like Church articles here at Crisis magazine. I do not even understand how I found this article and spotted Clare’s posting.

                God’s blessings of peace and joy!
                Maria

    • me

      Not only scorn, but the feeling of entitlement they have is truly disgusting. It’s like, “you owe me that”. So if there are rich people who are slaves of their wealth, in fact there are poor people who are also slaves of their laziness, indolence and their arrogance and feel of entitlement, as if the whole world is to blame for their condition. The vices abound everywhere.

      • Marcelus

        No offense, but : Are you honestly so entitled to judge ???why do you feel that way??

        Do you suppose, only suppose the Lord would not confort or give generously to any of your 2 kinds kind of poor?

        What you do not need , you give, what you need , you share.

        • me

          I feel that way because I’ve seen people writing that very stuff here. Oh by the way, it’s not the Lord who gives generously to both kinds of poor; unless you call the government God.

          • Marcelus

            I said would! It is potential! Just imagine… see it this way: would the Lord make the difference you make?

        • Adam__Baum

          People shouldn’t be judged. Behaviors are quite a different matter.

          Why should I pay so some people can copulate with abandon and not be expected to marry or provide for their children?

          By the way, nobody “gives” through government, it is taken.

      • Paul

        St. John Chrysostom might agree with aforementioned impoverished folks that you do indeed owe them that: “Those who have something more than necessity demands and spend it on themselves instead of distributing it to their needy fellow servants, they will be meted out terrible punishments. For what they possess is not personal property; it belongs to their fellow servants.”

    • Adam__Baum

      There is a difference between the authentically poor, the frail, the sick, the elderly, widows and orphans and those who have just been hit with unpredictable disaster and the people that frequent my local grocery store, wearing all the bling, chatting incessantly on the latest smartphone, buying prepared food (luxuries and extravagances) and loading them into a nice car, after whipping out the ACCESS (food stamps) card.

  • Adam__Baum

    Being as this author was reared in my adopted Parish, I take special note.

    If this was a “thought piece”, it would be fine. We should all be reminded that, in my late grandmother’s words “casket’s don’t come with pockets”.

    Unfortunately, though, it is apparently outside the scope of the author’s expertise, so it’s mostly a series of vague generalities that often reveal the paucity of his understanding. For the life of me, I don’t get how how theologians who lack any understanding or experience with monetary matters, take it upon themselves to comment on filthy lucre, without, in this and many other cases, so much as any thought about soliciting the opinion or review of people who understand finance. I wouldn’t dream of lecturing people on systematic theology or eschatology.

    What exactly does ” I think that we should pursue nothing extravagant and luxurious,” mean?

    The simplest home today makes the best home of one hundred years ago look like a slum. We flick switches to get light that rivals the brightest summer day. We don’t use candles or gas or oil lamps. We flick switches to prepare or heat food without the bother of chopping wood or mining coal (or burning dung, as is still done in parts of the world). I have an all wheel drive car, not a horse or a mule. Water, electricity, heating and cooling, are all dispensed with no more effort than the flick of a switch, and we can know obtain switches that act on voice commands or smartphone applications. His essay was prepared on a computer that has more processing power than the computers that guided the last moon shot.

    Yet in much of the world these things are unknown. Is every technological marvel or modern contrivance a luxury or extravagance?

    The great irony is that Holy Name of Jesus Parish is just an hour West of places like Intercourse, Paradise, BIrd-in-Hand, Ronks and what is known as Amish Country.

    For centuries the Amish have attempted to resist modern technology, but have made concessions. What they find acceptable, and what they find unacceptable is largely arbitrary. They had to be threatened into placing warning lights and reflective devices on their plain black buggies, because there were too many incidents of drivers coming up on a buggy in the fog or on one of the gentle hills and too many dead from it. Yet they really can’t exclude technology, because when they become seriously ill, they need an “English” physician and the prohibitions as electricity are falling, because there’s less agriculture and so the Amish have attempted to survive by turning to cottage industries, but in order to produce craft items efficiently, they need volts.

    Are we to treat wealth the way some Protestants treat alcohol, in spite of the fact that Christ consumed and even turned water into wine?

    The point is that “luxury” and “extravagance” are things that are fraught with all sorts of definitional issues, and what is a luxury for one person, might be a necessity for another. Then again, I consider the life of an academic to be one of luxury or extravagance, with all the autonomy that life entails. If the author was really serious, he might join some order of Brothers or Monks that take a vow of poverty.

    • redfish

      Realizing that you can’t take your material wealth to your grave is a start, I think, but people also need to question how much value it brings to their daily life. I’m Jewish, not Catholic, and — if you’re not practicing a more liberal version of the faith — you’re expected to abstain from using technology on the Sabbath. Driving is disallowed, so is using electricity, and so is writing. These are categorized as “work” and the Sabbath is for rest, but the real point is they’re distractions from the holiness of the day. Even more restrictions exist on Yom Kippur, of course, when you abstain from food and bathing. Its a day of atonement, which is meant to help bring you closer to God.

      So, of course, Jewish faith doesn’t ask people to live an Amish life or a monastic one, but is meant to encourage people to appreciate life without material things. You might spend time with family, you might think and reflect, you might enjoy walking and seeing nature instead of taking your car for granted as a means for getting around.

      I’m not clear what the author has in mind when he speaks of being poor, but I think that is a good spirit in which to pursue it. I would obviously hope he is not calling on the Church to sell St. Peters Basilica to demonstrate its commitment to poverty and to the principle of not being extravagant.

      • Adam__Baum

        Interesting perspective. I suppose it would be a first start if we could get people to stop using the Sabbath as a day to shop.

        • me

          Our Sabbath of course is Sunday. Well, it used to be a day to spend with family, go to Mass, the shops were closed, nobody worked on Sundays, etc. This is not true anymore, unfortunately I guess.

    • Isaac S.

      I took several classes with the author as an undergrad, and I remember him being one of the students who would eagerly pontificate on a wide range of subjects without necessarily having any knowledge thereof. To be fair to the author, though, he is writing with about the same level of specificity as our Holy Father. Pope Francis lived most of his live in a corrupt kleptocracy and most of his writings indicate that he has extrapolated his views of Argentina’s particular economic issues to capitalism as a whole.

      • Adam__Baum

        I think you might be hitting on something. If one has spent their life in a corrupt cesspool like Argentina, one might be jaded.

        Perhaps he will produce a magnum opus on the dangers of Autocracy or Totalitarianism, being as he’s got plenty of experience dealing with the Kirchners, who quite frankly are all too common in Central and South America.

      • me

        Yup, totally agree, his living in Argentina may have tainted his feelings and thoughts. I speak from experience, as I come from that part of the world. You kind of grow up a bit cynical.

        Another thing we have to remember is that Pope Francis is not a scholar and a theologian like Pope Benedict. So his writings will definitely reflect that.

        • Adam__Baum

          Popes are infallible, not omniscient.

    • C.S.

      Whoa, what do you mean by this? “I consider the life of an academic to be one of luxury or extravagance, with all the autonomy that life entails.” I am the wife of an academic; together we are struggling to raise five children on his one salary. We are the kind of people these articles pertain to. We are financially at the breaking point. I’m not sure, practically speaking, how we would manage to avoid debt if we had another child. Something would have to give, and perhaps turning to public assistance would be entailed, or dare I say we’d be forced to eat into savings, which we are loath to do. There is no margin on a median income for a family of seven. So even though some out there frown on NFP use, it is quite the challenge to make ends meet.

      I’m puzzled by the assertion that an academic leads an exceptionally comfortable life.

      • me

        Have you heard of “natural family planning”? It’s approved by the Church you know…

        • Kathe

          What a nasty retort. She mentions NFP in her post, anyways. It isn’t magic, and it isn’t especially accurate for many women when breastfeeding or getting irregular sleep, as is likely for a woman with 5 young children. You can’t really think you’re helping the NFP cause with such a comment, can you? It seems like just an excuse to look down on someone who is overwhelmed and worried. Shame.

          • me

            Well, I can certainly relate to her troubles. Anyhow, if you have 5 young children to care to, and don’t have enough sleep, etc etc etc, I guess you’re not very much interested in sex anyway. No sex, no kids. Easy way to plan the size of your family.

        • C.S.

          Actually, yes, otherwise we might well have seven children by now. I never would have expected to get to this point, where NFP was effective at postponing (even indefinitely) additional pregnancies, which in our circumstances would realistically be a strain. As Kathe points out, NFP can be difficult to learn and practice, in the midst of caring for young children, and confusing signs, so I don’t take the ‘breather’ we’ve managed to get for granted.

      • Adam__Baum

        “I consider the life of an academic to be one of luxury or extravagance, with all the autonomy that life entails.”

        “I’m puzzled by the assertion that an academic leads an exceptionally comfortable life.”

        First of all I define “academic” as a Masters or higher level degreed individual working as a professor or at a research institute think thank.

        We know academics (generally) make above average earnings, can acquire a form of job security not available to most people (tenure-ask folks in the construction trades about job security) aren’t exposed to physical dangers (electrical workers, etc) , on call (physicians), away from home overnight (truckers), and can when they achieve a certain professional stature decide what to teach or research. Then again, your husband could working in a position in cubicle land, where any given Friday might bring a pink slip.

        • C. S.

          In one way a professoriate seems cushy (summers “off”; sabbaticals) but in our case, my husband won’t be making tenure, and someone I spoke to (whose husband is friends with Dave Ramsey btw) said that her dad was a professor, and they had to move every three years until he made tenure.

          My point is that these days it is very.difficult repeat very difficult for a family to survive on one income. I’m trying to drum up a few dollars (I’ve spent countless hours and much emotional energy making products to sell at a craft fair tomorrow. If I sell out I’ll make about $150. During the course of the summer I made $100. Hardly pays the bills! (e.g. $1000/mo for food, $300 for health insurance, $700 for the mortgage… Suffice it to say the paychecks evaporate.)

          One mom I spoke to in a similar situation to us told me about having to choose between diapers and gasoline. She got a job as a supermarket checker. But really, another mom told me that after she paid the sitter, she cleared $4 an hour._Hardly worth one’s while.

          For most people who don’t have kids this is just a hypothetical, but I assure you there isn’t an excess of funds, no matter what the job, unless it’s the better part of $100,000.

          • Adam__Baum

            To borrow a phrase, this isn’t about you, it’s about the author.
            The author’s original statement was “I think that we should pursue nothing extravagant and luxurious” and I’m pointing out that he’s throwing rocks from a glass house to a lot of people. He doesn’t sesem to understand that extravagence and luxury isn’t only about material posessions.
            He’s got some livin’ to do, before he starts lecturing others. Still, imagine if your husband was a police officer in a big city and you could add his physical safety and shift work to your list of worries. Things may not be great, but they could be worse.

            • C.S.

              I agree. I noted well the reference to Happy Are you Poor. We try to live simply (so others may simply live, as Mother Teresa says), but as someone pointed out, it is hard to draw distinctions between legitimate pleasures (like ‘fine’ wine, or even any kind of wine), and extravagances. My d.h. points out that if monks, who take vows of poverty can make and enjoy beer and wine (or Chartreuse for that matter) it is not necessarily an indulgence. Having children though, kind of necessitates sacrifice, as it limits the amount of discretionary money at our disposal.

              If we were going to be hard core, we’d limit ourselves to water. I don’t always trust my judgment in this realm, as an American, part of the “culture” such as it is. The economy is kind of driven by consumption and even personal debt. If everyone suddenly stopped spending and started saving, wouldn’t the economy come to a halt? Isn’t that why President Bush, immediately after 9-11 urged Americans-not to go to church and pray, but to go shopping? Business as usual. Didn’t he also say that we were going to war to “preserve our way of life, which is a ‘blessed’ one?” I’ll stick with Fr. Dubay, and the gospel: blessed are the POOR in spirit. Isn’t that at odds with the “American Dream?” There’s a stigma to being “poor,” or less affluent. It just seems like there are some fundamental disconnects. P.S. If it isn’t clear, I’m not a libertarian.

              • C.S.

                That was my memory anyway, 12 years ago, of listening to the president on the radio. Maybe he did have a moment of prayer, but I recall gasping when I heard him tell everyone to go shopping. (Never mind that I was in the shopping center parking lot 😉 I was aghast, shocked, shocked if you will. I definitely feel the conflict between my Americanism and my Catholicism in many ways.

                • Adam__Baum

                  I remember that as well.

                  Keynesians are always on guard against a collapse of “aggregate demand” caused by “animal spirits”. In their world, there’s always a danger of people irrationally closing their wallets. It’s a weird superstition.

                  • Art Deco

                    Automatic stabilizers are not a problem. The problems arrived after 1961 when you began running deficits as a matter of course (a tendency which got thrice as severe after 1969) and also when the Johnson Administration pursued stimulus in the context of economic expansion, hitting the throttle on the economy rather than attempting to simply contain economic contractions. The result was the inflation it took 16 years for the central bank to learn to manage.

              • Adam__Baum

                I’m not a libertrarian either. Search Russell Kirk’s “Chirping Sectaries” for why.

                Wealth is like energy, there’s potential and kinetic. Poverty is subject to confusion with impecuniousness, impoverished and other concepts.

  • Carl

    “I think the best possible social program is a job.”
    Ronald Reagan

    In his State of the Union address, Reagan spoke of
    “government’s role . . . to create a ladder of opportunity to full employment
    — so that all Americans can climb toward economic power and justice on their own,
    ”he called for “an evaluation of programs and a strategy for immediate action
    to meet the financial, educational, social, and safety concerns of poor
    families . . .”

    Pope Francis doesn’t disagree, Evangelii Gaudium:

    “46. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized:without work, without possibilities, without any means of
    escape.” “202. Welfare projects, which meet certain urgent needs, should be
    considered merely temporary responses.” “203. Business is a vocation, and a noble vocation, provided that those engaged in it see themselves challenged by a greater meaning in life; this will enable them truly to serve the common good by striving to increase the goods of this world and to make them more accessible to all.” “204. the creation of sources of employment and an integral promotion of the poor which goes beyond a simple welfare mentality.”

    No to a financial system which rules rather than serves. (57.)
    Behind this attitude lurks a rejection of ethics and a rejection of God.

    In and of themselves neither Free Markets (51.) or any other
    political ideology (60.) for that matter will heal the societies of this world—its
    all about inculturating the Faith (68.)

    We do not exist for this world but for the next.

  • Carl

    ABC News: “Pope slams tickle down economics and greed at top”

    First, the Pope says no such thing, he uses the description “trickle
    down theories” and never uses the words “greed at top” in his apostolic
    exhortation.

    Widespread and deeply rooted corruption found in many
    countries – in their governments, busi­nesses and institutions – WHATEVER the
    political ideology of their leaders… (EG 60) In many countries globalization has
    advanced local economies but eth­ically debilitated them. (EG 61)

    No economic system in and of itself answers the faith and morals questions!

    It’s about openness to the transcendent which can bring
    about a new politi­cal and economic mindset which would help to break down the
    wall of separation between the economy and the common good of society. (EG 64)

    The Pope nor the Church have a monopoly on the
    interpretation of social realities or the proposal of solutions to contemporary
    problems… This is not our ambition, nor is it our mission—to offer social or
    economic solutions. It is up to the Christian communities to analyze with
    objectivity the situation which is proper to their own country”. (EG 184)

    And how about these for headlines ABC:

    Pope slams journalists for crude and superficial generalizations
    and politicians who justify acts of discrimination against religion. (EG 256)

    Pope slams instant communications and biased media coverage
    for distortion and teachings taken out of context. (EG 34)

    Pope slams modernists and progressives for abortion rights, every
    violation cries out in vengeance to God. (EG 213)

    Pope slams the media and entertainment industries for
    threatening sacredness of marriage and traditional families. (EG 62)

    Pope says priesthood reserved for males only, is not a
    question open to discussion. (EG 104)

  • WalterPaulKomarnicki

    I was moved by this article, it hits the spot. Jesus Christ never condemned the rich, only the hypocrites. He mentions money 29 times in the Gospels, but uses the adjective ‘tainted’ against it.

  • Isaac S.

    This entire “series” (if you can call it that) is somewhat of a joke. So far I’ve heard from a guy that says you shouldn’t financially plan because NFP is hard, a (non-married) guy that thinks he knows something about family finances, and a (presumably non-married) guy who spouts off a bunch of platitudes with no helpful info whatsoever. It would be far more useful to hear from some people who have actually had to contend with the extremely difficult decisions that come with raising a large family on a single income while trying to stay faithful to Church teaching on tithing and education. Guess what: kids are expensive! I have four kids and due to carseat laws I can’t get by with a station wagon like gramps did; I need a minivan. If my wife and I have one more kid, we will almost certainly need a very expensive and gas guzzling full-size van to haul the troop around. Sure, I could save money by buying a beater, but then I’d be coughing up the difference in repair bills. In a few years we will have (at least) four kids in Catholic school, for a tidy $10K per year, easily. Food for a family of six goes over $1000 per month without breaking a sweat. But hey, I should just let my kids starve and trust God to rain manna from heaven, right? I think Crisis would be much more helpful by posting articles by Catholic men and women who are (or have been) managing finances with a large family that include tips on how to get by than this drivel.

    • Adam__Baum

      The reason the authors offer so little concrete direction, is that they aren’t competent to offer it.

      There was a time when there were practical financial ministries, designed to help people in tight positions such as yours. A century ago, the hard industrial areas were full of “fraternal” insurance companies, organized around ethnic and religious lines. Premiums were paid through something called a “debit” (agent collection). In a time when when a small policy (that usually only covered funeral costs, and did nothing to replace a lost income) might be the only financial instrument people had, outside of “scrip” or modest retail credit, the agent often served as advisor and disciplinarian, and there are oral histories of agents ensuring that they made their collection calls to certain houses before the father attempted to anesthetize himself at the bar or pub after a grueling week in the mill or the mine. Likewise, parish priests reminded men that the groceries came before the pint and that drunkenness was a serious sin on several counts.

      Maybe that’s why Sunday Mass pews and Saturday Confession lines were so full.

  • GaudeteMan

    My go-to anecdote on this topic is from Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta. The story goes that in the 80s when she was in California a knuckle-head reporter thought she had a great ice-breaker of question when she was interviewing her. “So tell us Mother, what is the poorest country in the world.” Without hesitation Mother replied, “The United States! And its the worst kind of poverty – spiritual poverty.”

  • michaelaw1

    The hypocrisy of the Commie Pope’s ‘poor’ message, is, he is NOT willing to sell off the rich assets, of his own Church, to stand behind his suspect message. Truth is the first casualty of a Socialist’s philosophy.

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