Dear Father Angelo Bellon
My name is… and I am a….
I am writing to you about some aspects that are not clear to me about the desire for success and the search for material goods. Let me explain myself better. I often feel a strong “drive” for career advancement in my work environment, which is aimed, in part, at gratifying my work commitment, and in part, at satisfying my professional ambitions. At the same time, but without particular emphasis, I also think about the economic aspects that would allow me to afford more “luxury goods”. Please consider that I am married with a child, so the “luxury goods” I am referring to are mainly for the (material) well-being of my family.
These aspects bother me very much because I feel that they are inconsistent with the teachings of Our Lord. On the other hand, I wonder how it is possible to help our sick Society by occupying lower positions that may not allow us to address certain “operative” issues first-hand.
I do not hide from you that all this causes me a certain discomfort because, as I view things, my longing for a “career” is linked to the possibility of bringing the Word of Christ to places that have often totally forgotten it.
Could you enlighten me on this?
Answer from the priest
1. The desire to progress in life and never feel completely satisfied is something that comes from our nature.
I could say that it is a desire that the Lord has placed inside us.
From the very first lines of his Confessions, St. Augustine writes: “It is you who stimulate our heart to delight in your praise, because you have made us for you, and our heart has no rest until it rests in you” (Confessions, I , 1, 1).
2. As a result of original sin we are also inclined to evil.
So, unfortunately, it happens that we put the desire to grow even to the benefit of our flaws or ambitions.
3. Hence the need to correct our desires: to progress not for ourselves, but to make the most of the talents that the Lord has given us for the benefit of our neighbors and to introduce the light of the Gospel everywhere.
As you can see, it is not a matter of extinguishing our desires, but of directing them well and bringing them to maximum fruition.
4. To make evil inclinations inoperative, it is necessary to practice the opposite virtues: to practice generosity towards the poor, to accept even the humblest services in our houses, to treat subordinates as if they were our superiors (they are representatives of God for us), mortification of the senses to cooperate with Christ to the redemption of the world.
We should desire more and more to be the first in generosity, the first in humility, the first in treating everyone well, the first in mortifications and penances, the first in cooperating with Christ for the redemption of the world, the first in prayer, etc …
5. St. Thomas says that the virtue opposite to ambition is magnanimity, which is always turned to the common and divine good.
Therefore, we should not seek anything for ourselves, but for God, that is, in order for God to live in everyone, and for our neighbor.
6. Those with a big heart do not work hard because they want to feel superior to others.
These people are not envious or arrogant, do not make the others feel their moral, intellectual or social superiority. They do not speak harshly or in a condescending tone.
Someone who is magnanimous does not make the others feel that they are owe him something.
Even when he does a lot, he knows that everything is a gift from God: “When you have done all that has been ordered to you, say: we are poor (useless) servants” (Lc 17:10).
7. It’s a relentless fight.
Many have understood that they cannot do without regular and frequent confession.
It is not easy to be magnanimous. It is not easy to always have the mind turned towards the common and divine good.
But it is on this ground that we gain holiness for the present life and greatness for our eternal future before God.
I remember you in prayer and I bless you.