Against Covetousness in General

November 6, 2021 • 3 min

From The Sinner’s Guide, page 334



Section I.

Against Covetousness in General.

Covetousness is an inordinate desire of riches. Hence we regard as covetous not only the man who steals, but also the man who passionately longs for another’s goods or too eagerly clings to his own.

With great force St. Paul condemns this vice and declares it the source of all iniquity: “They that will become rich fall into temptation and into the snare of the devil, and into many unprofitable and hurtful desires, which drown men into destruction and perdition; for the desire of money is the root of all evil.” [1 Tim. vi. 9, 10.]

When you are assailed by this vice arm yourself with the following considerations: Remember that our Lord and Saviour, at His coming into this world, disdained to possess riches, which are the object of your desires. On the contrary, He so loved poverty that He chose for his Mother not a rich and powerful queen, but a poor and humble Virgin. He willed to be born, not in a palace, but in a bleak stable, the manger of which, covered with a little straw, was His only couch.

During His life upon earth He never ceased to manifest His love for poverty and His contempt for riches. For His Apostles He chose not the princes of great houses, but poor and ignorant fishermen. What greater presumption can there be than that of a base worm coveting riches, when the Creator of the universe became so poor for love of him!

Consider, moreover, your own vileness, since you are willing for a gross and perishable interest to sacrifice your immortal soul, created to the image of God and redeemed by His blood, compared with which the whole world is nothing. God would not give His life for this material world, but He gave it for the soul of man. How much greater, therefore, must be the value of a soul!

True riches do not consist in silver, or gold, or precious stones, but in virtue, the inseparable companion of a good conscience.

Set aside the vain opinions of men, and you will see that these precious metals are such only by the judgment of the world. Will you, who are a Christian, become a slave to that which even pagan philosophers despised? “He who guards his riches like a slave is their victim,” says St. Jerome; “but he who throws off their yoke possesses them as their lord and master.”

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