“The greedy man is really not rich, but poor.
He does not control his money but is controlled by it.
He does not possess his wealth but is possessed by it.
He may have many things, yet for him he has all too little.”
–Saint Anthony of Padua
Today’s quote from Saint Anthony about how money controls a greedy man reminds of what. Francis of Assisi said to his brothers: that having things necessarily meant guarding them, lest they be stolen.
The wisdom of both Francis and Anthony about possession teaches us a lot about the spiritual life. Possessions are not usually evil in themselves; rather it’s a matter of focus. When our attention is fixed on things we possess, we’re easily distracted. We forget about others and their needs. Where greed and possessiveness rule, justice usually takes a back seat.
Franciscan poverty—as any friar will tell you—has been a source of controversy over 800 years of our history. It’s led to divisions in the Order and many disagreements on how to live that vow.
But for any of us—vowed religious or otherwise—it’s important to take to heart Anthony’s reminder that “things” can so easily begin to control us. When that happens, we become destitute in the what really matters in life.