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"Lest I be full and deny you" A meditation on the secularizing influence of riches, as seen in a video.

July 26, 2013

072613One of the great “evils” of our time is satiation. I put the word “evil” into quotes here to emphasize that no particular good thing that God has made is, in itself evil. But we, on account of our own inordinate drives, accumulate and indulge beyond reason. And in becoming satiated, that is filled, we leave little room for God or others for that matter.

The more affluent we become in material things, the more spiritually poor we seem to become. The higher our standard of living, the lower our overall morals. The more filled our coffers, the emptier our Churches. This is the evil of our times. And it is no theory. The numbers demonstrate well that, over the past 60 years that as our standard of living has risen, church attendance and other signs of belief and spirituality have plummeted. So has family time, and the developing of deeper human relationships. Marriage rates have plummeted, divorce has soared. Birthrates are down. Kids are a burden in a satiated world with a high standard of living.

And it isn’t just wealth. It’s all the things which distract and divert us. There are so many things, most of them lawful pleasures, but often just too much of  a good thing.

One might imagine another scenario wherein we were astonished by God’s providence and fell to our knees in gratitude, and in our riches, and possession of many good things and pleasures went to prayer and church even more, out of sheer gratefulness. Alas this is seldom the case today.

Proverbs 30 says, Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me [only] with food that I need for today: Lest I be full, and deny you, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain. (Proverbs 30:9-10).

Yes, indeed…lest I be full and denying you say, “Who is the Lord?” It is indeed a snare in our times that many think they do not need God, or others. Our affluence creates the illusion of self sufficiency and self fulfillment.

St. Augustine sadly noted in a time far less satiated than our own: I, unlovely, rushed heedlessly among the things of beauty You made. You were with me, but I was not with You. Those things kept me far from You, which, unless they were in You, would not be. (Conf 10.27).

Many other scriptures warn of the spiritual danger posed by wealth and worldly satiation:

  1. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs. (1 Tim 6:9-10)
  2. No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money! (Luke 16:13)
  3. But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. (Luke 6:24-25)
  4. But many that are first will be last, and the last first! (Mat 19:30).
  5. How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” …It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Mk 10:23-25)

It is amazing that, hearing all this most of us still want to be rich  and would jump for joy if we won the lottery, instead of soberly cringe with fear and look for good ways to shed our excess.We still continue down a path of unreasonable desire and satiation.

Alas, the human condition, at least the fallen version of it. It isn’t very pretty and is proof positive that we are going to need a lot of grace and mercy to get home.

Think of that this as you watch this video. It’s a pretty stark portrait of the modern man. Consider how full, yet lonely he is. He speaks only of himself, and seems to interact with almost no one: lost in a self-referential world of excess, filled with every good thing, but too full for God. Somehow the man knows that the worldly things fill him for only a moment and pass. But still the answer is more! Quite a little portrait here of too many today.

Comments (22)

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  1. Candida Eittreim says:

    You know this reminds me acutely of that terrible sensation we have all gotten from eating too much. We feel stuffed achy and acutely uncomfortable don’t we? Promising ourselves we won’t overdo our eating ever again, yet many of us do. It used to be, that as a child, if i received too much at Christmas especially, Christmas lost its joy for me, In the midst of too much i just felt lost. Now that i’m living in the opposite estate, my prayer is continually, Lord let me stay poor. No amount of money or things can ever fill me as the love of Jesus Christ does.

  2. TaillerHews says:

    It’s amazing how many people lived perhaps very sinful lives before becoming saints. They learned wisdom that way I suppose…As did the Prodigal Son about whom the Lord Jesus taught us.

    It reminds me of when our Lord Jesus said:

    “…Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

  3. Jennifer says:

    Oh my gosh…that video. I’m getting totally depressed! Actually, I understand and stopped watching tv and listening to the radio. All this technology led me away from Christ in sometimes subtle ways. I am grateful for your blog, Monsignor. 🙂

    • Candida Eittreim says:

      Good for you Jennifer. So did we. No TV and blessed spaces now in which to hear the Lord. What a huge difference!

  4. one anonymous says:

    Thank you Monsignor, the video is great! The Lord has been showing me scripture about idols for some time now but this video really puts it into clarity. God warns us against idols but our modern day idols are idols all the same. I love what God gives us in Isaiah 46 (all of Isaiah 46 speaks):

    Isaiah 46:
    1 Bel bows down, Nebo stoops,
    their idols are on beasts and cattle;
    these things you carry are loaded
    as burdens on weary animals.
    2 They stoop, they bow down together;
    they cannot save the burden,
    but themselves go into captivity.

  5. Michael Brandon says:

    As usual, a thought provoking article.

    So thought provoking that when I tried to share it on Facebook, it was rejected. Apparently, it offended somebody. REALLY!!!

    We now have a human right not to be offended.

  6. Greg says:

    Priests don’t need tablets that is overindulgence

    • David says:

      Greg says:
      Priests don’t need tablets that is overindulgence

      What if it is being used for the Glory of God? Scripture study, teaching, Divine Office, Rosary, Missal, Sacred Music streaming, Holy writings, Church documents (Catechism(s), encyclicals, Conciliar texts , correspondences with members of Christ’s Body? Meditative musings and journals? Theology texts? Christology blogs? Images of Christ and His Saints? Many Priests have such pearls of great price on their tablets and use them for their vocation are are well equipped.

      God love you.

  7. edraCruz says:

    How empty is the life of a man who claims he is full of this world. Many a soul of modern men think they can assuage their feeling emptiness by filling it with material things only to find themselves empty at the end of the day. Mt 25 says a lot, for in serving others there we will find peace not only here but in the afterlife as well. “The KING will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of MINE, you did for ME.'” It is not good that man must be alone. ”YOU have made us (not me) for YOURSELF, O LORD, and our (not my) hearts are restless until they (not it) rest in YOU.” We are made for each other (not for pleasure and material things) and for HIM Who makes all things beautiful in our lives. Glory and Praise to our GOD. Thank you, Monsignor, you bring us to the depths of our faith.

  8. Patrick says:

    I’m like that, except that he doesn’t seem to have any goals. My life circumstances are similar, living away from people and places I’d rather be for work to make money so I can go back and not live in poverty. I wonder if it sneaks up on you though.

  9. Patrick says:

    But then my entire justification for it is to make money to buy land and support a family, not because I hated living technically in poverty. But I’ve heard it can get rough for a big family

    • I’m not entirely sure I understand your exact point, but it seems that you might be engaging in all or nothing thinking.

      • Patrick says:

        That’s how I usually operate. Either pull the trigger or not.

        • Well that’s not good, especially in matters like this.

          • Patrick says:

            Then what would be a better option?

          • Consider each situation and accept that there are many situations that allow for a gradation based on reason and do not demand an all or nothing solution but seek a middle ground. Hence the Proverb says, Give me neither poverty nor riches…. That is to say, give me something in between. In medio stat virtus.

          • Patrick says:

            I believe I understand the principle, but not necessarily it’s application to my situation. You’re saying I shouldn’t focus all or most of my attention on my goal of getting enough money to buy some land?

  10. RichardGTC says:

    They show that guy eating cheesecake, but he wasn’t a fatso, err . . . overweight. And he has to go to work for forty hours a week, at least.–to have money for those things.

    Mark 10: 26-27 “[26] Who wondered the more, saying among themselves: Who then can be saved? [27] And Jesus looking on them, saith: With men it is impossible; but not with God: for all things are possible with God.”

    I used to listen to music the way the guy in the video does: I’d make compilation CD’s and listen to them over and over. I don’t that was so bad because I would think about them and try to understand what it is that I should understand about them.

    “Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me [only] with food that I need for today: Lest I be full, and deny you, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain. (Proverbs 30:9-10).”–that recalls the Our Father. Also, recalls the place where Jesus says something to the effect of give no though to tomorrow as today has enough trouble of its own, if I recall correctly.

    And there is also the case of the sluggard who drops his hand into the bowl and leaves it there, to weary to lift the food to his mouth.

  11. Ella says:

    Thank you for giving me some serious food for thought (no pun intended), Msgr!

  12. Donna L. says:

    Such a great reminder, Monsignor – Thank you!

    It truly is a challenge in this modern society to resist being swept away by all the pleasures, idols, and general time-wasters. I find that it takes a real effort – DAILY.

    I’m reading a biography about Teresa of Avila and I’m so impressed by her love of poverty and her joy. Her example helps me to desire a simpler life and not fret about all those worthless things I might be missing out on! We also have a wonderful example in our new pope!

  13. TeaPot562 says:

    Storing up goods from this world is a mistake.
    Living so that others may also live and find (if they do not already know) Jesus is better.

    Chocolate Mousse is good; but caring for (and sharing with) those brothers and sisters with little will provide everlasting benefits, even if not “feelings of being full.”
    Better to hear the King say: “Come, you have My Father’s blessing! Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me food, ” etc, (Matt. 25: 34ff)

    TeaPot562

  14. JV says:

    As a child and teen my mother would warn me & say, “A full closet, an empty heart.”
    I don’t know who she was quoting.