Heaping up useless wealth, says St. Ambrose, rips the image of God out of our souls and substitutes the image of Satan. What good does all your wealth do you if it earns you condemnation?
Is it not a vain thing to heap up riches? For surely to look for fleeting things is vain enough. And when you have gathered them, how do you know that you will be able to keep them? Is it not vain for a merchant to journey by night and by day, that he may be able to heap up treasures? Is it not vain for him to gather merchandise, and to keep worrying about its price, for fear he might sell it for less than he gave?
And are you not also worried in vain if you pile up wealth with great toil, though you do not know what heir to leave it to? Very often all that an avaricious man has got together with the greatest care, his spendthrift heir scatters abroad with headlong prodigality. The shameless prodigal, blind to the present, heedless of the future, swallows up what took so long to gather like a bottomless pit.
Why, then, do you idly spin a web that is worthless and fruitless? And why do you build up useless heaps of treasures like spiders’ webs? For though they overflow, they are no good; in fact, they strip the likeness of God from you, and put the likeness of the earthly on you. If any one has the likeness of the tyrant, is he not liable to condemnation? You set aside the likeness of the Eternal King, and raise in yourself the image of death. Instead, cast the likeness of the devil out of the kingdom of your soul, and raise up the likeness of Christ. Let this shine forth in you; let this glow brightly in your kingdom—that is, your soul—for it destroys the likeness of all vices.
–St. Ambrose, On the Duties of the Clergy, 1.49IN GOD’S PRESENCE, CONSIDER . . .
Is my work keeping me away from Mass or interfering with my family duties?
Father, keep my eyes fixed on heavenly things, and make me worthy of entering into your Kingdom.
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