Seek Wealth Only If It Leads to God, Pope Suggests

Draws on St. Bellarmine: “Whoever Loses God Loses Everything”

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 23, 2011 ( Citing St. Robert Bellarmine, Benedict XVI today reminded the faithful that wealth, health and honor only serve a person if they lead to God.

The Pope spoke of the true values of life when he offered a reflection today at the general audience on St. Bellarmine (1542-1621), one of the key figures in the Counter Reformation.

The Holy Father outlined the main events and contributions of the Jesuit saint’s life, all oriented toward putting Christ at the center of everything.

“In the writings of this man of government one sees very clearly, even in the reserve with which he concealed his sentiments, the primacy that he assigns to the teachings of Christ,” the Pontiff noted. “St. Bellarmine thus offers a model of prayer, the soul of every activity: a prayer that listens to the Word of the Lord, is fulfilled in contemplating grandeur, does not withdraw into itself, finds joy in abandonment to God.”

Benedict XVI said that one distinctive sign of the saint’s spirituality was his perception of the “immense goodness of God.”

This, the Pope said, led him to a firm conviction that he was a “beloved son of God” and brought him great joy in prayer.

He went on to cite St. Bellarmine’s affirmation: “Whoever finds God finds everything, whoever loses God loses everything.”

Union with God

The Bishop of Rome also noted how the Jesuit taught with clarity and his own example that “there cannot be a true reform of the Church if there is not first our personal reform and the conversion of our hearts.”

The Holy Father mentioned one of Bellarmine’s reflections from his “The Mind’s Ascent to God”: “If you have wisdom, understand that you were created for the glory of God and for your eternal salvation. […] Because of this, esteem as truly good for yourself that which leads you to your end, and as truly evil what makes you lack it. Prosperous or adverse events, riches and poverty, health and sickness, honors and insults, life and death — the wise man must never seek or flee from them for himself. But they are good and desirable only if they contribute to the glory of God and to your eternal happiness, they are bad and to be fled from if they impede it.”

“These, obviously, are not words that have gone out of style,” Benedict XVI declared, “but words for us to meditate upon today at length in order to orient our journey on this earth.”

The Pope said the saint’s teaching is a reminder that “the end of our life is the Lord, the God that revealed himself in Jesus Christ, in whom he continues to call us and to promise us communion with him. [The saint’s words] remind us of the importance of trusting in the Lord, of spending oneself in a life faithful to the Gospel, of accepting and enlightening every circumstance and every activity of life with faith and with prayer, always tending to union with him.”

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