Is there anything wrong with being rich? This is America. And in America, we reward hard work and ingenuity. You can be anything and anyone you want, right, as long as you work for it. If you work hard enough and have enough skill, you deserve everything you get. Millionaire? Billionaire? Richest person in the world? This is the sign that you have worked hard, and everything you earn is rightfully yours. No one can take it away from you.

Okay. But what if that person is a Christian?

The question of what we do with our money is arguably the most important issue found in the entire Bible (in the Old Testament, second only to the issue of idolatry.) More than an insistence on peace, more than politics, far more than sexual ethics, Jesus spends most of his earthly ministry caring for the poor and preaching about wealth. He tells his disciples how they are to approach it, preaches against the rich, and raises up the poor. Truly, if there is one thing that Jesus cares about more than anything else, it’s what we do with our money.

Understandably, then, the Catholic Church has a few things to say on the topic. Drawing from the social encyclicals, papal pronouncements, and ecumenical council documents, this week’s Catholicism In Focus offers a brief overview of the Church’s stance on but one economic topic: private property.

Can a Christian be rich? In general, the Church has no problem. But it definitely depends on what one does with their riches.

“All I want to do is lie around, watch t.v., and eat. That’s the life!” There have definitely been times in my life that I’ve thought this. Especially now that the weather is getting nice in Georgia, it would seem that I’ve gotten exactly what most people always dream of.

Except, as many of you are likely figuring out, lying around, watching tv, and eating gets old after a while. At some point, there’s something that just starts to itch inside you.

By the looks of things, we’re probably in this for a while longer, and so it’s about time that we began to set a few things in place for a more sustainable life. In this video, I offer 5 things that we can and should do to stay safe, sane, and spiritually nourished in this time of isolation.

This weekend was likely unsettling for many people: a Sunday without Eucharist. As a response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, bishops have closed churches for public gatherings.

And it has many people confused, angry, and alone.

In this video, I want to suggest two things: 1) this is the right decision, and b) our connection with God can still flourish.

Most of you are probably well aware of this, but there are Christians in the world that hate Catholics. They don’t just disagree with our teachings, they do not think that we are Christians, and believe that we are nothing liars and deceivers.

Oh, and they’ve got the “scriptural evidence to back it up.” Because, you know, we don’t read the Bible and have no idea what’s in it.

One of the most common attacks we hear comes in regards to most famous title for a Christian leader: “father.” According to them, it is against the teaching of Jesus. Quoting Matthew 23, they point out that Jesus said “call no one father,” evidence that Catholics don’t care about Jesus’ teaching.

Of course, the Bible is absolutely central to our faith as Catholics. We would never disobey Jesus is such a blatant way. There must be more to the story than what appears on face value!

Hence, this week’s episode of Catholicism in Focus. Enjoy!

How does one examination their conscience to know if they’ve sinned? For many people, this involves using a questionnaire, checking off boxes for things we’ve done. Great.

Except, not always.

One problem that people face with these questionnaires is that they are beholden to the limited nature of the instrument itself. Often, they are based on the Ten Commandments (and only the Ten Commandments) meaning that there is no examination of how we’ve treated the poor, no care for creation, no sense of humility or meekness, and no reflection on the words of Jesus. Clearly, we need to use more than the Ten Commandments as a guide (which is why I offer the above video with further suggestions.)

But beyond what I spoke about in the video, there is a danger in using these questionnaires in that the questions themselves are not waited. So often I have people come to confession with a list of 19 sins. “I lied. I swore. I disrespected my parents. I had lustful thoughts. I wasn’t content with God and so desired physical things. I doubted. I was prideful. I didn’t pay attention in Mass. I had anger towards my sister…” While all of these things could be sinful, and none of them are good things, they really don’t tell me, the confessor, anything. Simply listing off a long succession of items does not offer context, intention, severity, or effect. “I lied” might mean that the person told another that their baby pictures were cute when they actually thought the baby was weird looking, or it might mean that they told false information under oath in an attempt to hurt their enemy. The same check mark on the questionnaire, but clearly a very, very different sin.

Using examination of conscience tools can be very helpful to uncover blindspots in our lives, helping us to see where we need to change, but they must always be approached critically. It is not about the quantity of checks that we make. It does not make someone more of a sinner if they have 15 checks compared to another with just one when that one is murder. Further reflection is needed.

If you use an examination of conscience tool (and I do recommend that you use multiple), don’t get hung up on the number. Don’t worry about checking boxes. Use the tool as a means to ask yourself, “What is truly getting in the way of following Jesus?” Focus on the things that matter, and change your life.