Et Tu, Jen offers a wonderful post on wealth, and whether or not God wants us to be prosperous. I think the commments — especially the first ones from Martin, who quotes from various encyclicals, are well worth reading.
I will admit that I have thought about this question long and hard as well. As many of you know, we live in a house that is rather small by American standards. When you put 8 people into it, it’s mighty… um… cozy, at times.
I fluctuate between being so grateful for this nice house (and it really is nice!), and crying out to God in frustration because we are just running out of room (in my opinion). How much *is* too much? Is there a “set point” where a family can say, “OK, this is all that we need. To go beyond this is wasteful.”
I feel incredibly guilty for even wanting a bigger house when I think of how people around the globe are living… or even how the Ingall’s family lived. I also feel INCREDIBLY guilty for whining about lack of space, when there are those out there who desperately want a large family, but are unable to.
So I do try to be thankful — I really, really do.
But then, on the flip side, I don’t live in those areas, or during that earlier time period, and infertility is not the particular cross I have been called to bear. I live here — in America, in the 21st century, in a large family. How am I, as a Christian woman in this particular culture, called to live? My husband and I have, as our primary responsibility, the care and education of our children. How are we to provide for them? Not in terms of how many toys or gadgets they get to accumulate, but in basic quality of life.
We are called to almsgiving. How much of our time, resources, etc. are to be devoted to taking care of our children, and when do we start taking care of those in need around us? How much can we responsibly put aside to take care of our family, and when does it become mere hoarding?
All questions that I can’t answer.
I assume that the Lord leads each one of us, and calls us all to different levels. For St. Francis, He called him to radical poverty. To others (like this beautiful couple at our parish) He calls them to be generous in their wealth (and they are. They have a gorgeous, very large home in a prosperous community, and they told God that they would build it to serve His people. They take in ANYONE who has need, and offer hospitality in a way I’ve never seen done before. Their entire house is built in such a way that they can accommodate, serve, and even entertain any that God would send their way. It is breathtaking to see. They, as a couple, live quite simply, even though their home seems so impressive.) I hope that, as we seek to follow Jesus, He would let us know when we had “enough,” and when we were just being greedy and selfish.
My thoughts for the morning as I prepare for another day of laundry and homeschooling!