Tuesday, February 24, 2009


So Father B and I were traveling about and needed to take a room somewhere in Pennsylvania. I went to work out in the hotel exercise room and when I returned B was watching a televangelist. I think a lot of these people preaching for such a long period of time week after week. It must be difficult. But five minutes into it we found ourselves saying, “Please say something of substance – please say something of substance.” It was like a long drawn out joke in which a person gives too many details before the punch line. Perhaps an hour sermon (for some – others are really quite good) say as much of substance as priests (are supposed to) do in an eight minute homily.

This particular man (and I would like to emphasize that I am talking about one preacher who was unassociated with a denomination) was going through great lengths to tell people that God wants them to be successful, rich, and happy. His prayer was that this is exactly where his congregation would find itself so that others would look at them and now that God is blessing them because of their wealth and happiness show that they must have truth.

Apparently the crucifixion was lost on him.

He is far from alone in the idea that if we are good enough, if we pray enough, if we are well practicing Christians then God will give us the high life. I would want to believe this! If I were a bit more naive and thought this message possible, I would gobble it up. Why not? What would I have to lose? Why not go with the guy who promises wealth and happiness from God?

Because it is a false promise.

There are not many non-Catholic Christians out there they see the merit in redemptive suffering. It is precisely when we suffer and remain true to God that we are refined like silver in the furnace, becoming more pure, more holy, even closer to God. Love of another human being is exactly the same. A couple that never has difficulties never truly grows in love for neither must sacrifice for the other. It is exactly when sacrifice is necessary, practiced and given freely that love, which is at first tried, becomes a deeper, more mature love.

Why do we purposefully practice acts of denial, charity, and penance in this season? Exactly to train ourselves to love and focus on God. This helps us prepare for those times when trial will hit us involuntarily. This will enable to trust God to see us through difficult times – to love Him just the same and not blame Him for our woes. It is redemptive because love will be tested and found then stronger than ever.

If you need proof, contemplate His Son’s Cross, or Job, or the Virgin Mary, or the violent life and death of those closest to Jesus such as the apostles, of Saint Paul, of the Martyrs, of the missionaries, of those who stand alone in their faith, of those persecuted for believing in Him – there is a reason they are now called saints – it was not because God made them wealthy and happy in an earthly sense – but wealthy in love and full of joy even when there were tears and trials.


Warren said...

Fr. Benedict Groeschel calls that prosperity-assumption "the big lie". That lie is that, if we are Good, we will only experience bliss in this life.


Adoro said...

Another great post!

On thing about the prosperity gospel that bugs me...I don't want to be wealthy! I look at those who have wealth...and they're not happy. They're not fulfilled. They're too busy being concerned about their wealth. Where is God in all that?

I'd rather have nothing and know that I have God, and am possessed by Him.

Timothy H. Warneka said...


In psychological circles, I've heard it refered to as "puritanical humanism" ... the idea that if we prosper (become rich, famous,etc), then we do so because we are good people, and if we do not prosper, it is because we are bad people.

Thanks for speaking out against the lie.