The Year of Faith, which began Oct. 11, provides, according to Pope Benedict, "a good opportunity to usher the whole Church into a time of particular reflection and rediscovery of the faith" (Porta Fidei, 4).
This reflection should include a review of our attitudes and actions related to money. Why? Because, as Pope Benedict has said, "When man pursues material well-being alone, remaining absorbed in himself, he bars the way to his own fulfillment and authentic happiness."
It Starts With Attitude
Scripture and Church teaching contain literally hundreds of references to money that should be a guide for how we think about it and what we do with it. These references are best summarized in 2404 of the Catechism: "In his use of things, man should regard the external goods he legitimately owns not merely exclusive to himself but common to others also, in the sense that they can benefit others as well as himself. The ownership of any property makes its holder a steward of Providence, with the task of making it fruitful and communicating its benefits to others, first of all his family."
If you want the peace that comes with being truly financially free, recognize that all you have ultimately belongs to God and accept the role he has entrusted to you as his steward. Consider it a privilege to be able to manage his gifts and resources in ways pleasing to him. Fulfilling this responsibility well requires conversion.
The Year of Faith "is a summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the one Savior of the world. … To the extent that he freely cooperates, man’s thoughts and affections, mentality and conduct, are slowly purified and transformed on a journey that is never completely finished in this life. ‘Faith working through love’ (Galatians 5:6) becomes a new criterion of understanding and action that changes the whole of man’s life" (Porta Fidei, 6).
Faith Influences Priorities
Do your actions with money reflect the values of your faith and your ultimate goals in life? Here are two ideas that will help you grow in your faith and more effectively manage the resources the Lord has entrusted to you.
First, take time during the Year of Faith to read the Catechism. Of course, you’ll grow in knowledge of the faith, and that’s a wonderful thing. Just as important, you’ll also grow in wisdom, as you better understand how to apply the faith in your life.
That brings me to the second idea: The activity in your checkbook provides an insight into your priorities. If you don’t regularly track your spending, I encourage you to keep a "spending diary" for one month. You’ll probably find that you’ve developed some bad habits without even realizing it. Once you understand where your money is going, you will be in a position to make adjustments that move you toward being a more effective steward of Providence — and toward achieving your most important goals. God love you!
Phil Lenahan is president of Veritas Financial Ministries (VeritasFinancialMinistries.com),
host of Life and Money radio, and the author of
7 Steps to Becoming Financially Free (OSV) and Generation Next.