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The Advantages of Wealth
for the Catholic Cause

Today when we hear poverty extolled and wealth condemned in many traditionalist milieus, it is opportune to remember that wealth in itself has many positive aspects.
Commenting on a text in Ecclesiastes, the celebrated Jesuit scholar Cornelius a Lapide teaches us that the wise use of wealth is both beneficial and necessary to maintain one's position in society.

Fr. Cornelius a Lapide, S.J.

“Wisdom with riches is more profitable, and brings more advantage to them that see the sun” (Ecclesiastes 7:12).

“Wisdom with wealth is more useful than only wealth, and often more useful than wisdom deprived of wealth, for, indeed, wealth is useful, but wisdom is still more useful. However, wisdom is most useful when it is accompanied by wealth, for frequently wealth is needed to maintain the dignity of wisdom. As a matter of fact, if a Doctor, a Prince, a Bishop or a Pontiff is poor, even when he is very wise and holy, he is despised by the people, the unfaithful and heretics. On the contrary, if he is rich, he is feared and respected, following that saying: ‘The rich man spoke and everyone stopped talking to hear him … The poor man spoke and everyone said: Who is this man?’

“On the other hand, wealth is beneficial in order to help the poor, to spread the worship of God, the Faith and piety, such as they were propagated by Constantine, Charlemagne, Theodosius, and other wise and opulent Emperors and Pontiffs. Standing out among the Pontiffs is Gregory XIII, who with papal munificence built many colleges and seminaries and admirably expanded the knowledge and the worship of God everywhere, and whose virtues, fame and glory will endure for all centuries.

“This interpretation is confirmed by St. Jerome, Alcuin, Lyranus, Cardinal Hugo and others. Aristotle also teaches that wealth is a most appropriate tool to acquire happiness and to favor the practice of virtue (I Ethic., chap. 10).”

(Commentaria in Scripturam Sacram, Paris 1875, vol. 7, pp. 254-255)

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Posted October 10, 2009

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