Recently, my wife and I watched the excellent movie, The Song of Bernadette, the story of St. Bernadette Soubirous, the seer of Lourdes. One scene in particular was especially moving: After the village school children completed their lessons well, a priest rewards them for their good behavior by giving them holy cards. Now, a holy card doesn’t sound particularly exciting to us, and most of us probably have more than we know what to do with. But the children in the movie were overjoyed. Most of them were incredibly poor, barely able to heat their homes, and having a “holy picture” was a luxury they had never experienced.
This scene got my wife and me thinking about how much we have and how much we take for granted.
Americans, and all those in the developed Western world, have a serious problem with ingratitude. We have so many luxuries that we don’t even see them any more. In the summer, we live in air conditioned comfort. In the winter, we have heat available instantly, without having to scrounge for firewood to fuel a meager fire. Rather than walking miles and miles to get water, we turn on the faucet. Our grocery stores, and our cabinets, are bursting with every imaginable food. Almost every American owns a smart phone, and giant flat screen TVs are in every home. Any and every imaginable convenience is only a shopping trip away.
And because we have so much, we face the serious, soul destroying danger of materialism. Did you know that 1 in 10 Americans has to rent a storage unit to store all their extra stuff? And yet we want even more. Every year, people are trampled to death by the stampedes of shoppers on Black Friday, and countless Americans are drowning in credit card debt because they bought things they didn’t need and couldn’t afford.
Materialism is at bottom