Friday, December 9, 2011

The Literal Wealth of the Catholic Church

I was asked over on my tumblr the follow question. My response is posted below.

Let me tell you a story.
There once was this Italian guy called Lorenzo (or, in English, Lawrence) who lived in Rome and happened to be a Catholic. Now, this was back in the day when it was unpopular to be Catholic - much less a practicing one - in Rome. What was more, he worked for the Church.
The dude in charge of Rome at the time, a man called Valerian demanded that Lorenzo bring him all the riches of the Church - something he’d been made aware that our friend could do for him. He also demanded that Lorenzo give up the True Faith or die in the same way that seven of his friends did four days before.
So Lorenzo rocked up for his execution accompanied by all of Rome’s poor, crippled, diseased, blind and undignified people.

Another story for you: there once was this great King who decided to visit is subjects. He wasn’t particularly well received, so they did what they could to send him away.
However, in three days, he returned again and has never left his people since.
He is the source and summit of their life.
He dwells in his tent in every one of his palaces on Earth at all times.
His name means God-will-save and he is called God-with-us.
You probably know him as Jesus.
His dwelling place is usually called a Tabernacle and it is here that He reposes, loving His people and waiting for their love so that He can shower on them gifts that we call graces.
The poor that St Lawrence brought to the Emperor Valerian are the Face of Christ, who said that in being kind to the poor, the outcast and the downtrodden, we were being kind to Him: “Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.” (source)
The Eucharist and the least among us are the literal wealth of the Catholic Church.

Do they weigh on my conscience? Yes.
I do not have a great love for either of them, though I very much desire to.
I have a feeling, anon, that what you meant was “Does the material wealth of the Catholic Church weigh on your conscience?”
I’ve a question for you in return. And the answer to that question.
Do you know what the entire art collection of the Holy See is insured for?
It’s not.
Do you know how much the Vatican values each of the art pieces for accounting purposes?
One Euro.
The value of the art and architecture of the Catholic Church is not found in it’s material worth. It is found in its ability to lead people to God, and to worship Him.
The literal wealth of the Catholic Church is Christ Himself.
The material wealth of the Church only has value insofar as it points to the first.


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