It is important that individuals and families in today’s society make an effort to take judicious care of their finances. Modern life is complex and there are so many strains on families and individuals in our current economic times. This is especially true as it comes to job security, the high cost of housing in many parts of the United States, saving for college and retirement. The right use of our finances can help us to reduce the stress that these factors play in our lives, and actually help us to grow closer to God. Each individual and family has their own unique set of financial circumstances, but there is a common thread. We all need money to live, and we are called to use our money wisely now, and to cooperate with God’s future plans for us by saving some money we earn now, for the future.
God’s Plans for our money
When the use of money is ordered correctly in our lives it free us to focus on living God’s Plan in our life, instead of our own plans. God has a Plan for each of our lives, His Plan is always better than our own. Ultimately He wants us to correspond with His Will in our life, he usually reveals that to us in the ordinary day to day circumstances that we find ourselves in. Each person and family has different needs and goals, but we all share things in common.
We are not in this alone
The first thing we share is that we are all children of God, and all that we have both spiritually and temporally are gifts from God. Our temporal gifts whether they be great or very limited should be recognized as coming from God and that we will be held accountable how we use these gifts. Stewardship is the process of treating the financial resources that are in your control as if they do not belong to you, rather they come from God. When our use of money is looked at this way it radically changes our perspective. Now we have a gift from God in our care that we are called to use responsibly and to return back to Him with an accounting of how we used our gifts. We also share the fact that we are all called to live out the gospel in our lives. As Catholic Christians we are called to live in the world, but not to be of the world.“I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world” John 17: 14-16.
The proper disposition toward money
What does this mean? It means that we are to live in the world and take care of our human necessities without letting “things” rule us. That does not mean that we should not buy a house, save for retirement, or for our children’s college fund. We have to be take responsibility for the financial security of our family by the wise use of money and at the same time submit ourselves to God so His Plans can be fulfilled in us. As St. Ignatius of Loyola said “Pray as if everything depends on God, act as if everything depends on you”.
How to invest our money to glorify God
An important aspect of prudent stewardship of our finances is making sure that we invest our money according to our Catholic values, and in ways that we know would be pleasing to God. Catholic investment screening is focused on two main ideas. The first is to eliminate investments in stocks that generate revenue from practices that violate our Catholic moral values. Examples would be fetal stem cell research, or companies that serve and facilitate the abortion industry. The second main idea is positive screening of investments to be included within the investment portfolio. Examples would be those companies who have demonstrated good corporate citizenship by treating workers fairly, or environmental stewardship. When we seek to invest in this manner, it is a conscious decision to allow our Catholic identity and beliefs to permeate more deeply into our life, even in the choices we make with our investments.
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