Reading Augustine, Doing Laundry... A Reflection

Tonight I remembered I had a load of laundry in the washer here at the seminary. The temperature was a quite welcoming 65, with a slight breeze, so I decided to grab my folding chair, On Free Choice of the Will (a work by Saint Augustine), and my iPod and read in the laundry room while waiting for the load to finish drying.

Augustine writes:

"While a man thinks that he is very unhappy if he has lost his fine reputation, great wealth, or various goods of the body, would you not consider him extremely unhappy even if he had an abundance of such things? For he is clinging to things that he can very easily lose and that he does not have while he wants them; he lacks, moreover, the good will which is not to be compared to these and which, though it is so great a good, he needs only to will in order to possess."

Augustine arrives at one of the most important messages Catholics and Christians of our modern world must embrace and proclaim to the world: detachment from material goods. It is essential, especially in our modern world, for us to not have a 'dependency' on material goods (i.e. cars, houses, property, computers, jewelry, etc.) that detract from a deeper spirituality and unity with God. This does not entail a complete dismissal of all things material, but a 'detachment' -- that is, we should be able and willing to part from any and all material goods we are given--without complaint. After all, all is given by God. This is no small task to accomplish, but it can be done through the grace and redemptive power of Jesus Christ.

Let us pray that we may become simple people and may offer all our worries, delights, sufferings and triumphs over sin to the Lord, acknowledging that we are subordinate to Him and that we truly love Him as he has loved us.