Saturday, 11 October 2008

The end of an era

The current economic crisis shows the importance of building our lives on the firm foundation of God's Word. The other day Benedict XVI said that we see this "now in the fall of the great banks. ... This money disappears; it is nothing - and in the same way, all these things, which lack a true reality to depend on, and are elements of a second order. The word of God is the basis of everything, it is the true reality. And to be realists, we should count on this reality. We should change our idea that matter, solid things, things we touch, are the most solid and secure reality. ... He who builds only on things that are visible and tangible, on success, a career, money - he is building on sand. Apparently these are the true realities, but one day they will pass away. Only the Word of God is the foundation of all reality; it is stable like the heavens and more than the heavens. It is reality. Therefore we should change our concept of realism. The realist is he who recognizes in the Word of God, in this reality apparently so fragile, the basis of everything."
In 1991 John Paul II had asked this question:
"Can it perhaps be said that, after the failure of Communism, capitalism is the victorious social system, and that capitalism should be the goal of the countries now making efforts to rebuild their economy and society? Is this the model which ought to be proposed to the countries of the Third World which are searching for the path to true economic and civil progress?
The answer is obviously complex. If by "capitalism" is meant an economic system which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property and the resulting responsibility for the means of production, as well as free human creativity in the economic sector, then the answer is certainly in the affirmative, even though it would perhaps be more appropriate to speak of a "business economy", "market economy" or simply "free economy". But if by "capitalism" is meant a system in which freedom in the economic sector is not circumscribed within a strong juridical framework which places it at the service of human freedom in its totality, and which sees it as a particular aspect of that freedom, the core of which is ethical and religious, then the reply is certainly negative." (Centesimus Annus, 42)
The fact is that Capitalist culture has had its heart set on materialism and has made peripheral things - designer clothes, infantilised lifestyles and megabytes - become the focus of the Common Good, whilst pushing unwanted human beings into the background and even denying life to a countless multitude through contraception, abortion, embryo research and euthanasia. The reverse of this situation is the truth: the human person, not material goods, is the source of the Common Good. Indeed, it is the human person redeemed by grace who is the Common Good of humanity, whilst the goods we buy in the shops and want in our homes are peripheral realities. It is human beings we need more of, and redeemed human beings at that; a Capitalist culture which empties us of our humanity and leads us to respond to our inadequacies has got to have a limit imposed on it. Thank goodness God is stepping into the market place in order to make some changes.

1 comment:

torchofthefaith said...

Thanks for this post Father.

Back in the late 1980's, even though deep down I loved the Lord Jesus, I was nevertheless a young bank clerk with a deep attachment to money, status, sharp suits and image. I had grown up a 'child of Thatcher's Britain' and aspired to the then prevalent yuppie culture. Capital City was a favourite TV show of mine and Wall Street a favourite movie - I even slicked my hair back like 'Gordon Ghekko'... In short I was very selfish. Some of the classical spiritual writers would perhaps have called me a 'worldling'.

I began to attend the local Catholic Church with my parents. A holy old Irish priest used to preach regularly about St. Augustine's teaching that on earth we have no permanent city - therefore we must build something everlasting and with eternal worth.

This began to strike a real chord with me. Then I met an incredible nun from Mother Teresa's convent in Liverpool who worked with the poor and the homeless. She understood young people and her holiness and integrity struck my young and yearning heart.

Soon we were making regular trips to take clothes for the homeless. Then I began to want to actually help the homeless - to be present to them. I also experienced the most beautiful thing I had encountered; the 40 hours of Eucharistic Adoration. I did not know it, but the Lord was weaning me away from my secularized 'Christianity' and I was beginning to find in Catholicism the deepest truth - the truth which makes us fully human.

Eventually I joined the Catholic Church and spent time in Lourdes to work with the sick and elderly. Suddenly, my former aspirations seemed so hollow. I had found everything in Christ and from Him learned that to be fully alive is to love concretely and practically.

Archbishop Sheen said that sometimes the Lord allows economic trials to help us find the really important things to love in life - i.e. God and neighbour.

Invest in these and all the rest shall be added unto you!

To anyone in trouble in these economic times - Do not despair but cry out to and hope in God who has your deepest interests at heart.

Thanks again Father.

Alan Houghton