I came to The Lord’s Ranch community in 1983 on a mission trip when I was 18 years old and ended up staying, having discovered my life’s calling. I had the great privilege of being discipled and taught by Fr. Rick Thomas, S.J. until his death in 2006.
Fr. Thomas challenged us to be serious about living our Catholic faith in the circumstances of daily life, no matter what our vocation, and one of the key points he taught was to hold material goods and possessions lightly.
Everything belongs to God and is given to us for a time. We are only stewards and will have to give an account to God one day of our stewardship. This applies not only to material goods but to other resources like our eyesight, our intelligence, our discretionary use of time, the talents we have been given, etc. All these things have been given to us by God and are to be used generously in the Lord’s service, in whatever mission He calls us to.
Fr. Rick wove this truth into his teachings, giving us practical ways to live this out. For example, he proposed an exercise of going through all your belongings, one by one, and saying, “This ________ (name the item) belongs to God.” This house, this bed, this toothbrush, this car, this computer…belongs to God. He told us to pay attention to what was going on inside as we did this – did I feel a tinge of fear or discomfort or possessiveness? That, he said, would indicate where we were overly attached to something and were in bondage to it.
With that self-knowledge, we could then ask for the grace of detachment from any greed or selfishness that held us captive. With that grace would come greater freedom and a willingness to be more generous with what God has blessed us with.
And a surprising thing happens as a result: the less grasping and clingy we become — to whatever object or thing or person we are overly attached to — the more joy we experience. And joy, as Pope Francis repeatedly reminds us, is very contagious and evangelistic.
Questions to ponder:
- What mission has the Lord given you to accomplish at this particular moment in your life?
- What concrete created goods are inhibiting you from fulfilling it?