by Fr Richard Heilman | March 24, 2022 10:44 PM
“Freedom from Consumerism” by Fr. James Altman
Dear family, if there was one word that might underlie the modern day “fall of mankind” it very well could be consumerism. We’ve heard it said that we spend a lot of money we do not have on a lot of things we do not need – especially around Christmas. Surely we all are horrified by the annual satanic feast known as “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving, when we reveal just how little thanks we have. We go from being “so thankful” for all the stuff we own, to rushing out in the wee hours of the morning to stand in line (in all kinds of weather), to be one of the first people through the door to buy a bunch more stuff. Dear family, the only Black Friday a good Catholic knows is Good Friday, for we know that on that blackest day in human history, when it seemed Lucifer had his victory, Easter Sunday was coming. How much less would we consume on the satanic holiday of Black Friday if our eyes were focused on The Resurrection of Jesus the Lord on Easter Sunday?
Consumerism is a compensating behavior. It is a behavior that compensates for the hole within us, the hurts and wounds we have accumulated, the woundedness and brokenness from which we all suffer. When we have a headache we have our go-to drug of choice, Excedrin, Tylenol or whatever. When we are hurting in our hearts and souls, we have our go-to compensating behavior. Our compensating behaviors are as addictive as any drug or any other vice into which we fall. We use it to compensate for our suffering. Such is consumerism. As with any addiction or vice, it only is a temporary anesthetic, something that relieves the suffering only temporarily. Ultimately, it is a suffering that only can be healed and filled by Divine Love.
Why is it that humanity is so susceptible to falling into compensating behaviors like consumerism, and so quick to forsake the Divine Healer? Why is it that we think more stuff will ever be enough?
It is well understood that affluence is a faith-killer. When we have all we need (indeed way more than we need) and when we can rely upon ourselves to obtain or accumulate what we think we want, we tend to forsake God. The day we think we do not have to rely upon God is the day we begin to drift away, very quickly immersing ourselves in immediate gratification through our own devices. Most certainly, we forget Jesus’ admonition:
“If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides” (Matthew 6:30-33).
Anecdotally, Ireland once was an extremely poor country yet, at the same time, a rock-bed of Catholicism. Enter the economic boom of the 1990s-early 2000’s. It was a time of such spectacular economic growth in Ireland that it had its own nickname: Celtic Tiger. Faith fell away. Interestingly, Ireland still has about the lowest divorce rate in the Western world, less than a third of the United States. However, recently Ireland legalized abortion and same-sex marriage and – not in small part due to the horrific failure amongst bishops and the abuse scandal – faith has decreased significantly. Similarly, from the first time I went on pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy in Poland in 2001, to the last time in 2017, there not only has been a very visible increase in affluence but, sadly, an increase of the seeds of immorality being sown in the public square (Beware of the young woman holding an umbrella in the broad daylight).
Here’s the thing about consumerism. We already contemplated the Life Lesson of Adam and Eve – how nothing ever is enough. Far worse than that, consumerism cannot heal. Only the Divine Healer can heal the wounds within us. Only Divine Mercy can heal.
Dear family, we can build ourselves a bigger house, surround ourselves with more stuff in the house, get a bigger SUV to go get more stuff for the house – but nothing compares to being in a genuine Catholic Church, God’s house, where His Son is present in the Real Presence. Nothing we can buy, nothing we can accumulate, absolutely nothing, will heal our hearts and minds and souls like being in the presence of the Real Presence. That being the case, why is it that we spend a lot more time at work, working so hard to earn some money, to pay the bills that arise from buying – consuming – so much stuff we don’t need? All we really must do is spend a little less time consuming and a little more time with Jesus.
We used to have a Catholic devotion, a Catholic tradition, of stopping by the Church daily, even for just a few minutes. We were born and raised knowing that Jesus not only is present, but He waits for us in the Tabernacle. He thirsts for us to come and keep Him company. Do we understand that if we just spent a little bit of time in His Real Presence every day, something we do need, we would feel a lot less need to spend a lot of money to consume so much other stuff we do not need? (From “Let Freedom Ring“)
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