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Augustine of Hippo: The miseries that attend on riches

“Such, O my soul, are the miseries that attend on riches. They are gained with toil and kept with fear. They are enjoyed with danger and lost with grief. It is hard to be saved if we have them; and impossible if we love them; and scarcely can we have them, but we shall love them inordinately. Teach us, O Lord, this difficult lesson: to manage conscientiously the goods we possess, and not covetously desire more than you give to us.”

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” Mark 10:23

Augustine, Bishop of Hippo (354-430) in Sermon 133 as recounted in The Good Works Reader, ed. by Thomas C. Oden (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 2007) 289.

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Mason, Webb and How: We Give Thee but Thine Own

We give Thee but Thine own;
Whate’er the gift may be; 

All that we have is Thine alone,

A trust, O Lord, from Thee.

May we Thy bounties thus,
As stewards true receive,

And gladly, as Thou blessest us,
To Thee our first fruits give.

Music: Lowell Mason and George J. Webb (1850)
Words: William W. How (1864)

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Caryl Micklem: Give out of Gratitude

“Lord Jesus Christ, you were rich. Yet for our sakes, you became poor, so that through your poverty we might become rich. Accept this collection as a token of gratitude for all you have done. Amen.”

Contemporary Prayers for Public Worship, ed. by Caryl Micklem (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1967) 66.

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Matthew Henry: The Heart of 1 Corinthians 13:3

“There may be an open and lavish hand, where there is no liberal and charitable heart…Our doing good to others will do none to us, if it be not well done, namely, from a principle of devotion and charity, love to God, and good-will to men.”

If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:3

Matthew Henry in Commentary on the Bible, notes on 1 Corinthians 13:3 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1991).

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Pope PIus XII denounces modern day materialism with the words of Jesus

“But the world, which today affords so many justifiable reasons for pride and hope, is also undergoing a terrible temptation to materialism which has been denounced by our predecessors and ourselves on many occasions.

This materialism is not confined to that condemned philosophy which dictates the policies and economy of a large segment of mankind. It rages also in a love of money which creates ever greater havoc as modern enterprises expand, and which, unfortunately, determines many of the decisions which weigh heavy on the life of the people. It finds expression in the cult of the body, in excessive desire for comforts, and in flight from all the austerities of life. It encourages scorn for human life, even for life, which is destroyed before seeing the light of day.

This materialism is present in the unrestrained search for pleasure, which flaunts itself shamelessly and tries, through reading matter and entertainments, to seduce souls which are still pure. It shows itself in lack of interest in one’s brother, in selfishness which crushes him, in justice which deprives him of his rights–in a word, in that concept of life which regulates everything exclusively in terms of material prosperity and earthly satisfactions.

‘And I will say to my soul, the rich man said, Soul, thou hast many good things laid up for many years; take thy ease, eat, drink, be merry. But God said to him, Thou fool, this night do they demand thy soul of thee.’ Luke 12:19-20”

Pope Pius XII in Le Pelerinage de Lourdes: Encyclical Warning Against Materialism (45-48) promulgated on July 2, 1957.

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Origen of Alexandria: Caring for the poor

“In appearance Judas championed the cause of the poor and said with indignation, “This ointment might have been sold for three hundred pence and given to the poor.” But in reality he “was a thief, and having the bag took away what was put in it.” If then, anyone in our time who has the bag of the church speaks like Judas on behalf of the poor but takes away what is put in it, let there be assigned to him the portion along with Judas who did these same things.”

Origen of Alexandria (c. 185-254 in Commentary on Matthew in The Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture vol. IX, ed. by Peter Gorday (Downers Grove: IVP, 2000) 211.

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Pope John Paul II: On Having and Being

“It is not wrong to want to live better; what is wrong is a style of life which is presumed to be better when it is directed towards ‘having’ rather than ‘being,’ and which wants to have more, not in order to be more but in order to spend life in enjoyment as an end in itself.”

Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus (36d) May 1, 1991

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Paterius on present cares and perishable things

“Many people, although they are believers, are occupied with present cares, as if they were feeding flocks across the Jordan (cf. Num. 23:4). Contrary to the faith they professed in baptism, they serve perishable things with their whole minds and all their desires…They do not know how clear the eternal light is, because they are blinded by transitory concerns. When they take pride in earthly things, they shut the door to heavenly light.”

Paterius, (c. 600) bibiblical commentator, disciple of Gregory the Great, from Exposition of the Old and New Testament, Numbers 23 in The Good Works Reader, ed. by Thomas C. Oden (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 2007) 305.

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Denny and Leesa Bellesi: What stewardship is all about

“Stewardship is not essentially about giving. Giving is something a faithful steward does. Stewardship is rather about living all of life believing everything you are and everything you have belongs first and foremost to God.”

Denny and Leesa Bellesi in The Kingdom Assignment: What Will You Do With the Talents God has Given You? (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001) 69.

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Dionysius of Corinth honors Pope Soter in Rome for giving alms abundantly and blessing others generously

“Soter was pope for eight years, c. 167 to 175. We possess a fragment of an interesting letter addressed to him by St. Dionysius of Corinth, who writes:

“From the beginning it has been your custom to do good to all the brethren in many ways, and to send alms to many churches in every city, refreshing the poverty of those who sent requests, or giving aid to the brethren in the mines, by the alms which you have had the habit of giving from old, Romans keeping up the traditional custom of the Romans; which your blessed Bishop Soter has not only preserved, but has even increased, by providing the abundance which he has sent to the saints, and by further consoling with blessed words with brethren who came to him, as a loving father his children.”

“Caius and Soter, Saints and Popes” from www.newadvent.org retrieved on January 24, 2010.

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