Monday, November 21, 2011

More is Never Enough - Greed

This week I am trying to root out greed, also known as avarice. Though it cannot be overcome in a week, simply being aware that greed may still be a part of my life is a step in the right direction. After all, acknowledgement of our failings leads to repentance and forgiveness. Sin cannot be forgiven if one does not admit that he or she needs forgiveness. Admitting our faults is a basic requirement.   I can go through my life seemingly unaware that I am affected by the seven deadly sins but this would be feigned ignorance on my part because with conversion comes the light to know oneself and this grace cannot be denied easily.  If I look away each time the Lord taps me on the shoulder asking me to look more deeply into my heart I will pay a heavy price for that turning away some day. Better to search here than in Purgatory.  It's a lot less painful to do it here on earth. Maybe not painless but certainly less painful.

Greed is the inordinate desire for money or earthly goods. We see manifestations of this capital sin everywhere we look in today's society, a good example being the avarice that gripped our large financial institutions a few years back to such an extent that they needed government bailouts to stay afloat. An article I read when this happened said the downfall of our financial institutions was "bad banking decisions" but the truth is that greed was the culprit here and many of the banks have continued basing their banking practices on greed rather than using money justly. Good old common sense tells us where this will land us once again.

A hunger for power may be one of the more dangerous manifestations of greed. We see the damage dictators have wrought in our century but ordinary people can be "little dictators" too. Some folks lord it over their families and run their household with an iron hand that brooks no disobedience. Right or wrong is not the issue here because a "little dictator" does not respect the free will of others. Greed and pride make a volatile mixture. If gluttony causes a narrowing of the spirit, the mixture of greed and pride bring about a deadly spiritual rigidity that is difficult to pierce. Pride believes it is always right and greed walks all over others to get what it wants. And after it gets what it wants... it wants more. They are very dangerous partners.

Greed is often fear based and uses the goods of the earth as a "physical" blockade of the heart. Greed does not trust God or others. Nor does it trust itself. It uses "stuff" as protection and "lording it over others" as proof that it is self-sufficient but once these things are taken away it becomes obvious that this is not the case. Greed is the refusal to entrust oneself into God's hands... which stems from fear. The problem is that we must learn to trust God totally. The more greedy we are, the more painful our separation from this earth at death will be because dying well requires an complete abandonment of ourselves into the hands of God. If we trust things more than God this poses a big problem, doesn't it?

Greed is unhappy because it confuses "having" with "being". Because it confuses these two it always seeks more because what it has is not enough to fill what can only be filled by God.

In my next post I'll write about some of the signs and symptoms of greed and about greed's opposing virtue.


  1. Thank you for these post, Mary! They are wonderful! I'll be back to reread them again.

  2. Mary,

    You are pulling me out of my comfortable close-my-eyes-and-I-won't-notice-my-faults state. I have needed something or someone to get me all fired up and focused again. Thank you! Yesterday I downloaded a copy of one of the books you mentioned in another post. The one by Peter Kreeft on virtues. I'm going to do some reading and thinking and praying... Wonderful posts.

    God bless you!

  3. You're right in that greed is at the root of all our evils in modern society. People seem to confuse needs with wants. They just want it all and want it now.

    Whether it's money, food, power, possessions, fame, celebrity or whatever; today's materialistic world has conditioned many to focus on greed and not God.

    God bless.

  4. Hi Jennifer,
    I'm glad you are enjoying these posts on the seven deadly sins. Writing about them is helping me notice their presence in my life still. I am realizing that I have a lot of work ahead of me! Conversion is definitely an ongoing thing.

  5. Your writing on these is insightful. I appreciate how you keep showing the relationship between the sins.

  6. Sue,
    I'm squirming in my chair writing about them. All sins stem from the seven deadly sins so it's helpful to recognize how much these affect us. Some may not be as much of a problem as others but most of us can see at least a couple that are a problem in our lives. We shouldn't get upset though because grace is stronger than these :) Peter Kreeft's book is a good one!

  7. Victor,
    So true! Everything seems to be a need today instead of a want. There's nothing wrong with having a few extras but we can at least admit that they ARE extras and not necessities. Thanks for commenting!

  8. Thank you, Colleen. I appreciate the feedback :)

    You and your family are in my prayers. God bless!

  9. Mary, these posts are so awesome. I really feel like this is a little retreat -- so much food for thought. You are a blessing.

    Speaking of greed..Black Friday is almost upon us. It is something of the "poster child" for greed, with people trampling over one another to get the "deals."

    I am not so much greedy about "stuff", but I am greedy with my time, which I think is worse. I have much work to do in this area...hoarding my time, because I never seem to have enough.

    What a long road it is to perfection!

    Mary, thanks for bringing all of this to my attention..and seems so many others are benefiting as well!


  10. Hi Patricia,
    You're right about Black Friday - it's just crazy out there! I stay away from stores on that day!

    I'm glad you are finding these posts helpful. I wasn't sure if others would get anything out of them or not. Thanks for letting me know that you are finding them useful :)

    (We'll keep praying too! Prayer is powerful! Thank you for yours and please know that you are in mine!)

  11. "confuses having with being" true.

    Thank you for this insightful post, which comes as the perfect time as a reminder for us to keep a proper focus during the upcoming seasons of Advent and Christmas.

    When the children and I study things like "Westward Expansion", "World Wars", etc...I always seem to come to the personal conclusion that "greed" was the root-cause and driving force of these things; which led to much suffering and disaster for families in America.
    Just a thought.

    I'd also love it if you would touch upon the topic of hiding behind "God's name" when greed is being manifested...such as "Manifest Destiny" when the travelers claimed that it was their calling and God-given right to have more land, more money, more gold, etc...

  12. Hi Judy,
    Thank you for your comment. After reading your last sentence I'm thinking that you would be the person to tackle this subject :) LOl! To be honest, I don't know enough about it to write about it. But please let me know if you do post about it because I would be very interested in reading it. I agree that greed (along with pride) plays a large part in wars and the westward expansion of the US.