Sunday 19th April 2015

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

Aquinas And Francis On Greed

March 24, 2014 Featured Today No Comments

By DONALD DeMARCO

“Your eyes are bigger than your belly,” my mother used to say to me. I don’t think she coined the expression, despite the authoritative tone she used whenever she enunciated it. Nor do I think she meditated at length on its rich philosophical implications. But she was fond of reiterating this cozy maxim, and its timeless message did not fall either on deaf ears or on a forgetful memory. She may be pleased to know that she now has the Holy Father to amplify her motherly advice.
“Wanting more than you need” is a simple definition of greed. I prefer my mother’s version because it suggests that greed makes our foolishness embarrassingly conspicuous. I can easily imagine inhabitants of Dante’s Inferno having eyes that are literally larger than their bellies. This is a fit punishment, indeed, for a vice that makes lust larger than life. “Keeping up appearances,” is not possible in Hell. Residents of the Inferno are unable to conceal their shame. Hell may be deprived of love, but it is not vacant of truth.
St. Thomas Aquinas had a more elaborate definition of greed that included other vices that it set in motion. For the Angelic Doctor, greed can be “a sin directly against one’s neighbor, since one man cannot over-abound (superabundare) in external riches, without another man lacking them, for temporal goods cannot be possessed by many at the same time.”
By this, the Angelic Doctor means that one person’s superabundance is achieved at the expense of others, exemplified by the contemporary phrase, “the rich get richer while the poor get poorer.” Aquinas goes on to say that greed (or avarice) is “a sin against God, just as all mortal sins, inasmuch as man contemns things eternal for the sake of temporal things,” and also a means by which “man sins against himself, because it causes disorder in his affections” (Summa Theologiae II-II, 118, 1. ad 2).
St. Thomas was right. Greed involves more than mere covetousness. It includes unneighborliness, injustice, injury to self, an inordinate concern for material things, and contempt both for God and things eternal.
Geoffrey Chaucer once warned, “Radix malorum est cupiditas” (the root of all evil is greed). Dante spoke of how greed can “submerge mortals” and render them powerless “to draw their eyes from” its “blinding surge.” And Erich Fromm expressed the futility of greed very well when he said: “Greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction.”
In a Vatican Radio address given on October 21, 2013, Pope Francis warned of the grave dangers associated with greed. He alluded to the parable of the rich man who lives to gather “treasures for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.”
Elaborating on the parable, Pope Francis went on to advise us to stay away from greed of any kind because “that’s what does harm: greed in my relationship with money. Having more, having more, having more. . . . It leads you to idolatry, it destroys your relationship with others. It’s not money, but the attitude, what we call greed. Then too this greed makes you sick, because it makes you think of everything in terms of money. . . . And in the end — this is the most important thing — greed is an instrument of idolatry because it goes along a way contrary to what God has done for us.”
He closed his address by urging everyone to “take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”
In another address, the Pontiff encouraged the financial experts and the political leaders of the world to consider the words of St. John Chrysostom: “Not to share one’s goods with the poor is to rob them and to deprive them of life. It is not our goods that we possess, but theirs” (May 16, 2013).
In contrast to greed is temperance, the virtue that brings things into balance by properly proportioning our eyes and our bellies so that we would not be humiliated if people could see us exactly the way we are.
If my mother speaks to me in the next world, I hope she will tell me how suitably proportioned my eyes are in relation to my belly.

+    +    +

(Donald DeMarco is a senior fellow of Human Life International. He is professor emeritus at St. Jerome’s University in Waterloo, Ontario, and an adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Conn., and a regular columnist for St. Austin Review. Some of his recent writings may be found at Human Life International’s Truth & Charity Forum.)

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

Untitled 2

Attention!

Our On-line Store is currently experiencing problems. If you are ordering a print edition of The Wanderer 

CLICK HERE!

Cardinal Burke Responds to Recent Criticisms

In an Italian-language interview, the patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta said, ‘I am not against the Pope; I have never spoken out against the Pope. … My purpose is to serve the truth.’ Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke,…Continue Reading

‘Prominent’ Catholics attacking Archbishop Cordileone are big donors to Pelosi and pro-abort Democra

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, April 17, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) — Big donors to the Democrat Party and pro-abortion Nancy Pelosi are among those publicly harassing San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone for protecting Catholic identity in the area’s Catholic high schools. A big-ticket…Continue Reading

American Sisters accept Vatican reforms on doctrine, theology

Vatican City, Apr 16, 2015 / 04:15 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In a joint report marking the conclusion of a multi-year mandate for reform, members of the LCWR have agreed to corrections called for by the Vatican, and said they will…Continue Reading

Cardinal George, archbishop emeritus of Chicago, dies at 78

DEVELOPING: Cardinal Francis George, the archbishop of Chicago from 1997 to 2014, died Friday at the age of 78 after a long battle with cancer, the Archdiocese of Chicago has confirmed.

We Must Pray For And Defend This Good Bishop

bishopcord

I call on all the readers here to pray and offer fasting and alms for the spiritual defense of Archbishop Cordileone of San Francisco. Will San Francisco be the Alamo of the Church in these USA? Today, in the ultra-liberal…Continue Reading

Prominent Catholics call on pope to oust S.F. archbishop

In an unprecedented move, more than 100 prominent Roman Catholic donors and church members signed a full-page ad running Thursday in The Chronicle that calls on Pope Francis to replace San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone for fostering “an atmosphere of…Continue Reading

This teacher cannot sue the Catholic Church for firing him because he openly rejects Catholic teachings: Legal experts

OMAHA, NE, April 14, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Legal experts agree that, if you openly flout Christian teachings, you have no right to sue a religious school for firing you – in most instances. That analysis comes after a sexually active…Continue Reading

PETITION TO POPE FRANCIS: Declare St. John Paul II “Doctor of the Church”!

johnpaul

I, Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, do hereby petition our Holy Father, Pope Francis, to declare St. John Paul II Doctor of the Church. I ask that St. John Paul II, who instituted the Feast of Divine Mercy, be declared Doctor of…Continue Reading

Cardinal Brandmüller: Advocates for changing Catholic teaching on marriage are ‘heretics’ – even if they are bishops

April 14, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) — Cardinal Walter Brandmüller has been among the leading voices critical of proposals stemming from the Vatican’s Synod on the Family that risk subverting Catholic teaching on the sacraments and morality. He was one of five…Continue Reading

Obama administration: Catholic school upholding marriage is ‘sex discrimination’

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 13, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) — The Obama administration’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has found “reasonable cause” to rule that a Catholic prep school has unlawfully discriminated against a homosexual band director formerly in the school’s employ. Mount…Continue Reading

God or Nothing

ROME, April 10, 2015 – He has said so himself, with candor: “I have the feeling that God has put me here for a short time.” Four or five years, or even less. It is natural that this disclosure of…Continue Reading

USA, 25% more priests in 2015

Good news for the American Church. 595 priests are expected to be ordained in 2015: an increase of 24.7 on the previous year. The news was announced by the United States Episcopal Conference, which nevertheless prefers to err on the…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to subscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.

 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading

Today . . .

May His Soul Rest In Peace . . .

george

Pope Francis: Christian humility is not masochism, but love

Vatican Radio) Humiliation for its own sake is masochism, but when it is suffered and endured in the name of the Gospel it makes us like Jesus. That was what Pope Francis said in his homily at the Mass at Casa Santa Marta, as he invited Christians to never cultivate sentiments of hatred, but to give themselves time to discover within themselves sentiments and attitudes that are pleasing to God: love and dialogue.   Is…Continue Reading

Pope Francis to visit Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay

(Vatican Radio)  A communique from the Holy See’s Press office on Thursday announced that Pope Francis will make an apostolic visit to three Latin American countries in early July. It said following invitations from the respective heads of state and the Catholic Bishops, the Pope will be in Ecuador from the 6-8th, Bolivia from the 8th- 10th  and Paraguay from the 10th-12th. Full details of the programme for the visit will be published at a…Continue Reading

Pope at Mass: Those who do not dialogue disobey God

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday offered the Mass at Casa Santa Marta for his predecessor, the Pope Emeritus, on the occasion of Benedict XVI’s 88th birthday. “I want to remember that today is the birthday of Benedict XVI,” Pope Francis said at the liturgy. “I offered the Mass for him, and I invite you to pray for him, that the Lord might sustain him and grant him much joy and happiness.” In his homily,…Continue Reading

Cardinal Brandmüller Says . . . Advocates For Changing Church Teaching On Marriage Are Heretics

By MAIKE HICKSON (LifeSiteNews) — Walter Cardinal Brandmüller has been among the leading voices critical of proposals stemming from the Synod on the Family that risk subverting Catholic teaching on the sacraments and morality. He was one of five cardinals who contributed to the book Remaining in the Truth of Christ, which focused on criticizing…Continue Reading

Income Inequality: Married Couples With Kids Make Average Of $107,054

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY (Editor’s Note: Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor in chief of CNSnews.com. Creators Syndicate provided this column. All rights reserved.) + + + If American politicians wanted to drive down the income of the American people and make this a poorer nation — and they actually studied the government’s own data…Continue Reading

A Book Review . . . The Artful Ploys Of The Noonday Demon

By MITCHELL KALPAKGIAN The Noonday Devil: Acedia, The Unnamed Evil of Our Time, by Jean-Charles Nault, OSB (Ignatius Press: San Francisco, 2015), 203 pp. $16.95. Available through www.ignatiuspress.com. Some temptations are bold and brazen in their seduction, and some are subtle and artful. While the temptations of the flesh disorder the appetites and produce uncontrollable…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “Can We Use Our Consciences On Contraception?”

By BRIAN CLOWES (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 21 of The Facts of Life, “Contraception,” e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + “Surveys in many countries consistently show that most Catholics believe that decisions of conscience about…Continue Reading

Protecting Freedom Of Religion

By FR. JOHN FLYNN, LC (Editor’s Note: Fr. John Flynn, LC, wrote this commentary for ZENIT News Agency. Fr. Flynn, a regular ZENIT contributor, holds degrees from the University of New South Wales and from the Pontifical Gregorian University. (ZENIT made Fr. Flynn’s essay available; all rights reserved.) + + + Great Britain’s Equality and…Continue Reading

The Wanderer Interviews His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke . . .

burk10

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, who previously served as Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome from June 2008 until November 2014, recently visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis. Prior to that he served as Archbishop…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Did Jesus Christ Found A Church? If He Did, How Can She Be Identified?

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 2 In the previous article we saw that Jesus gave to the apostles the royal ministry, that is, the power to exercise authority over the people in His Church, to shepherd over, to rule over, and even to judge them. He also gave to the apostles the prophetic ministry, to be the teachers of…Continue Reading

The Church’s Origin, Foundation, And Mission

By DON FIER Sacred Scripture reveals a rich and diverse tapestry of images to describe the Church. Each of these symbols enables one with faith to gain additional insights into the various complementary aspects which are present in this great mystery which the Fathers of Vatican Council II refer to as the “universal sacrament of salvation” (Lumen Gentium, n. 48…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. In the second reading on Good Friday (Heb. 5:8-9), there is a phrase toward the end of the epistle that says: “Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” I am puzzled by the words “when he was…Continue Reading

The Good Shepherd

BY FR. ROBERT ALTIER Fourth Sunday Of Easter (YR B) Readings: Acts 4:8-12 1 John 3:1-2 John 10:11-18   In the Gospel reading today we hear our Lord telling us that He is the Good Shepherd. We have all heard this many times and, in our minds, we have our own notions of what that means. We can think about…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Catherine Of Siena

By CAROLE BRESLIN St. Catherine of Siena lived in the 14th century, a century of great upheaval and confusion in the Church. The Church celebrates her feast on April 29. She not only was a great saint, but her writings and her example were so extraordinary that she is one of the few persons who have been given the title…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Anselm

By CAROLE BRESLIN St. Anselm was born in France near the Swiss Alps around 1033. At the age of 15, he wished to enter religious life by joining a monastery. Sadly, his influential father was so against it that the monastery refused to accept him. This so discouraged the youth that he drowned his sorrows in worldly pursuits. He deeply…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Marguerite D’Youville

By CAROLE BRESLIN By 1701 the European colonies in North America had expanded beyond the Appalachian Mountains. The Anglo population in the English American colonies had reached 275,000. The French had recently established a colony in Detroit. Catholics, however, were persecuted as Massachusetts passed a law ordering all Roman Catholic priests to leave or face execution. New York passed a…Continue Reading