The author of the Book of Wisdom prays: “Give me neither poverty nor riches; provide me only with the food I need, lest, being full, I deny you . . .”
This is a wise prayer; its author recognizes the connection between an abundance of this world’s goods and the vice of pride and arrogance and the delusion that if we have enough wealth, we can declare our independence from God. This is part of what Our Lord means when he says that a camel can squeeze through the eye of a needle more easily than a rich man can get into heaven. And not only is Our Lord talking about material things, but even more, about the things of the mind. We can become vain, proud, and contemptuous of others because of our talents or good looks or education, or intellectual gifts, or things of that kind. And when vanity or pride take root in our minds, hearts, and souls, our spiritual life suffers and sometimes dies altogether. Pride is the great enemy of love of God and neighbor; humility is its greatest ally.
[September 27th] is the feastday of Saint Vincent de Paul, the French priest who had such a tremendous impact upon Church history. He was very concerned about the poor in France during his time — the 1600s. He was also concerned about the educational level of the clergy. So he founded the Vincentian Fathers and Brothers to improve clerical education, and he collaborated with Saint Louise de Marillac in founding the Daughters of Charity. For centuries, their big, white bonnets were a symbol of the Church’s concern for the poor throughout the world. Then, in the 19th century, a French layman by the name of Frederic Ozanam founded an organization of laymen called the Saint Vincent de Paul Society. It exists in most parishes throughout the world and has done an enormous amount of good for the poor wherever it functions. The desire of Christians to be of service to anyone who needs it, and the actual performance of service of this kind is one of the most authentic signs of true Christianity in the world. How are you doing in terms of being of help to others in one form or other? Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God Bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This message was composed some years ago.