The Lord admits the use of outward things, bidding us put away, not the means of living, but the things that use these badly; and these are … the infirmities and passions of the soul.

St. Clement of Alexandria, in The Rich Man’s Salvation

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Christians have long had a hard time finding God in the material world.  Some, the literal and those who envy what others have and by implication covet what they have, cannot see God in all creation. They cannot see the blessings of wealth earned through honest and hard-working industry.

Seeing the Divine in material existence has posed problems for the believer over time.  They scorn the wealthy, see them as evil.

Socialists, communists, modern liberals, fascists all seem suspicious of wealth yet gather it when they accede to power, and appropriate it by all means possible to either hoard for themselves or, in the affluent democracies, redistribute it so as to gain favor with enough citizens to stay in power where control and wealth are theirs alone.  Think of the Washington, D.C. area with per capita incomes and opulent living far exceeding the average American.

The Church’s present iteration as to material well-being is as to redistribution and endorsement of large government programs no matter their costs or effectiveness – a wishful-thinking largesse.

Historically the Church as has had those in its midst who despise earthly existence.  Yes, they appear holy but not seeing God in all things – material reality included – is to see poorly and somewhat afar from what is holy.

You doubt this?

Think about the 12th century document Visio Alberici which identified a special place of torture in hell for those married couples who had intercourse on Sundays, feast days and fast days.  Talk about not living with kindness toward material existence, including the human person as God created him and her!

My point?

Wealth, like sexual expression among married couples, is not bad.  Money, Leftists notwithstanding, is not per se “bad” – rather it is, as St. Clement said in the Second Century, the infirmities and passions of the soul which are our concern.  It is no less true now than then.

This is the point – do not fear existence, the material – but do not let it govern or diminish the Spiritual and your relationship to God.

Do not focus on, or forsake material reality.  It has its place under God, not a place instead of God.

Shalom.

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