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Header-How a good Lent can fix a bad economy

 by John Horvat II 


To those who see no link between Lent and our failing economy, it might be the case to look again.


Economics is about people. It cannot be reduced to numbers, formulae and analyses. “The subject matter of economics,” observes economic historian Odd Langholm, “is properly the habits, customs, and ways of thinking of producers, consumers, buyers, sellers, borrowers, lenders, and all who engage in economic transactions.”

That means our moral habits can have a definite effect on determining if our economy grows — or fails.


In my new book, Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society—Where We’ve Been, How We Got Here, and Where We Need to Go,  I show how our present economic crisis is being caused by what I call “frenetic intemperance.”

Frenetic intemperance can be defined as a restless spirit inside certain sectors of modern economy that foments a drive inside men to throw off legitimate restraints and gratify disordered passions. It is not a specifically economic problem but a moral and psychological vice that throws everything out of balance. When frenetic intemperance dominates, it often sends the whole system into convulsions—as we saw during the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis. And, unless addressed, it is virulent enough to crash the entire financial system.

In our daily lives, we see frenetic intemperance in the tendency to desire everything, right away, regardless of the consequences. Everyone must have the latest gadget even though they do not need it and really cannot afford it. The mad lack of restraint leads to an unstable economy laden with boom and bust, debt and stress. It creates a cold mechanistic economy where money rules. It gives rise to a materialistic culture which values quantity and utility over quality and beauty. The long and short of it is that a frenzied economy comes from frenzied lifestyles.

And that brings us to Lent. Fighting bad moral habits and practicing restraint is what Lent is all about. More than giving up a box of chocolates, how about giving up habits that foster frenetic intemperance, which is the real root cause of our economic decline? Besides the personal benefits of interior peace, detachment, and greater spiritual freedom, a good Lent can also help save our economy.


Here are some suggestions on how this might be done:

  1. Avoid speculative investments that promise huge returns on investment in little time.
    Such offers usually do not deliver what they promise and always feed frenetic desires that create anxiety and stress.
  2. Stay away from business relationships that are cold and mechanical. Treat workers like family. Respect those for whom you work.
  3.  Avoid trendy business gurus and books that call for radical changes that will “revolutionize” a company or keep people in a constant state of change.
  4. Eschew work schedules that are inhuman and stressful. Learn to appreciate leisure.
  5. Avoid compulsive buying especially during those sales frenzies around the holidays.
  6. Shun the abuse of credit cards and especially the temptation to pay only the minimal monthly amount. Avoid consumer debt as you would the plague (i.e. borrowing to buy things for your immediate consumption, e.g. that new laptop, games, cars, fashion clothing, etc. that you cannot afford, as opposed to investment debt , e.g. your home mortgage).
  7. Learn not to have everything right now. The culture of instant gratification creates a frenzied lifestyle — and economy.
  8. Do not take as role models those who have money as the central axis of their lives. Admire character not a person’s bottom line.
  9. Resist the temptation of seeing only quantity and cheapness. Learn to appreciate the beauty of quality and good taste.
  10. Avoid lavish display, especially of fancy gadgetry that leads to a desire to keep up with the e-Joneses with the latest version.


As Lent progresses, we would do well to do something that has an impact beyond our own spiritual lives. It would be good to practice charity toward our neighbor by looking at the big picture. Giving up frenetic intemperance is a good start.

 


John Horvat II is a scholar, researcher, educator, international speaker, and author. His book Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society—Where We’ve Been, How We Got Here, and Where We Need to Go

 

 

Lent and the economy

what is frenetic intemperance

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for December 9, 2019

Happiness is secured through virtue; it is a good attained b...

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December 9

 

Happiness is secured through virtue;
it is a good attained by man’s own will.

St. Thomas Aquinas


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin

Inspired by a sermon on the virtue of chastity, they mutuall...

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St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin

Juan Diego was born in Cuautlitlán – today part of Mexico City – in the year 1474 and given the name "Cuauhtlatoatzin" or "Eagle that speaks". He was a gifted member of the Chichimeca people, one of the more culturally advanced indigenous groups living in the Anáhuac Valley.

In 1524, at fifty years of age, Juan Diego was baptized with his wife Maria Lucia by one of the first Franciscan missionaries to arrive in Mexico, Fray Pedro de Gante. His religious fervor, his simple artlessness, and his respectful but gracious demeanor are among his defining characteristics. It is said that after their baptism, he and his wife, inspired by a sermon on the virtue of chastity, mutually decided to embrace this evangelical counsel by living celibately afterwards. After the 1529 death of his wife, Juan Diego moved to be near his aged uncle Juan Bernardino in Tolpetlac. Thereafter, the pious widower was in the habit of walking to the Franciscan mission at Tlatelolco for religious instruction and to perform his religious duties. His frequent journeys took him close by the hill at Tepeyac.

At daybreak on Saturday, December 9, 1531, Juan Diego was on his way to morning Mass as usual, when he suddenly heard the exquisite sound of many birds singing. The beautiful melody came from higher up the hill, and thinking himself transported to heaven, his whole being attracted by the sound, he let it draw him up the Tepeyac. When the birdsongs suddenly ceased, he heard his name called in his native Náhuatl language and he beheld a beautiful young maiden. She called him to come closer and Juan Diego, “filled with admiration for the way her perfect grandeur exceeded all imagination,” prostrated himself in her presence. With unutterable sweetness, she revealed her identity to him “… the ever-virgin Mary, Mother of the true God who gives life and maintains its existence. He created all things. He is in all places. He is Lord of Heaven and Earth.” She asked him to go to the bishop in Mexico City, Don Fray Juan de Zumárraga, and to request in her name that a shrine be built at Tepeyac, where she promised to pour out abundant graces upon those who invoked her.

After some difficulty in gaining admission to the bishop, the humble messenger recounted the marvels he had witnessed and delivered the lady’s message. However, the prelate’s response was discouraging and Juan Diego left downcast and disappointed.

The Queen of Heaven was waiting for him at the top of Tepeyac on his return that evening, and casting himself down he told her of his heart’s sorrow at meeting with incredulity on the part of the bishop and adds: “I beg you, my Lady, Queen, my little girl, to have one of the nobles who are held in esteem, one who is known, respected, honored, [have him] carry, take your dear breath, your dear word, so that he will be believed. Because I am really [just] a man from the country, I am a [porter’s] rope … a man of no importance: I myself need to be led, carried on someone’s back. That place you are sending me to is a place where I’m not used to going or spending any time in, my little Virgin, my Youngest Daughter, my Lady, Little girl.”

With great gentleness, she tells him that he is the one that must carry out this commission. And Juan Diego promises that he will return to the bishop the following day with her request.

Despite the obstacles posed by the bishop’s attendants, Juan Diego was again admitted into his presence. Don Juan de Zumárraga questioned the Indian kneeling before him thoroughly but remained unmoved by the man’s account. Not on his word alone would he believe, he told him, a sign must be given to prove that the apparition was indeed from heaven.

Undaunted by the prelate’s request, he returns to Tepeyac to convey it to Our Lady, who asks him to return in the morning that she might give it to him. During the night, however, Juan Diego’s sick uncle worsens and it is clear that he is dying. Shortly after midnight, his nephew sets off for Tlatilolco to summon one of the priests that he might confess and prepare for death.

Not wanting to meet the beautiful Lady, who would surely want to send him to the bishop with the “proof” he had requested, he hurried along, set on his task. But the Queen of Heaven came down to meet him and gently chiding him she asked, “What is happening, youngest and dearest of all my sons? Where are you going, where are you headed?” Humbling himself before her, he told her of his uncle’s grave illness and his need for a priest to assist him. She assured him that the illness was not grave and that he had nothing to fear on that account. Her solicitude filled him with joy and consolation: “Am I not here, I, who am your mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need something more? Let nothing else worry you, disturb you; do not let your uncle’s illness pressure you with grief, because he will not die of it now. You may be certain that he is already well…” And, as they later found out, his uncle became well at that very moment.

Full of confidence, Juan Diego begged her to send him immediately to the bishop with the sign she had promised. The Blessed Mother told him to climb the hill and to pick the flowers that he would find there. He obeyed, and although it was winter time and the frost at that time of year was very harsh, he found flowers of many kinds, in full bloom. Astonished, he cut and gathered the fragrant blossoms and took them to Our Lady who carefully arranged them in his mantle – the rough-woven “tilma” worn by his people – and told him to take them to the bishop as "proof". When he opened his tilma to show the bishop the profusion of blooms, the flowers fell to the ground, and there remained impressed upon his cloak an image of the Blessed Mother, the apparition at Tepeyac.

With the Bishop's permission, Juan Diego lived the rest of his life as a hermit in a small hut near the chapel where the miraculous image was placed for veneration. Here he cared for the church and the first pilgrims who came to pray to the Mother of Jesus. He died in 1548 and was buried in the first chapel dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe. He was beatified on May 6, 1990 by Pope John Paul II in the Basilica of Santa Maria de Guadalupe in Mexico City and canonized by him on July 31, 2002.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

Allow me to live, work, suffer, be consumed and die for Thee...

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Prayer to the Immaculate Conception

Allow me to praise Thee, O most holy Virgin Mary, with my personal commitment and sacrifice.

Allow me to live, work, suffer, be consumed and die for Thee, just for Thee.

Allow me to bring the whole world to Thee.

Allow me to contribute to your ever-greater exaltation, to Thine greatest possible exaltation.

Allow me to give Thee such glory that no one else has ever given up to now.

Allow others to surpass me in zeal for Thine exaltation and me to surpass them, so that by means of such noble rivalry, your glory may increase ever more profoundly, ever more rapidly, ever more intensely as He Who has exalted Thee so indescribably, above all other beings Himself desires.   Amen

By Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe

 

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Allow me to live, work, suffer, be consumed and die for Thee, just for Thee.

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