The Church, money and property

Loyalty and opportunity
You shall not steal.186 

2401The seventh commandment forbids unjustly taking or keeping the goods of one’s neighbor and wronging him in any way with respect to his goods. It commands justice and charity in the care of earthly goods and the fruits of men’s labor. For the sake of the common good, it requires respect for the universal destination of goods and respect for the right to private property. Christian life strives to order this world’s goods to God and to fraternal charity. 

The Church’s social teaching comprises a body of doctrine, which is articulated as the Church interprets events in the course of history, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, in the light of the whole of what has been revealed by Jesus Christ.202 This teaching can be more easily accepted by men of good will, the more the faithful let themselves be guided by it…..”        http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a7.htm

So if Communism is against the Ten Commandments, so is sheer capitalism which does not obey in sharing and caring – ” 2424 -A theory that makes profit the exclusive norm and ultimate end of economic activity is morally unacceptable. The disordered desire for money cannot but produce perverse effects. It is one of the causes of the many conflicts which disturb the social order…204″

Today when we can seek and learn so many vital basic Truth needed for life to live and thrive, this balance can be achieved if people indeed are of Good Will and choose to be guided. A Heart that can learn to love will SEEK more and more to be guided as we know that we are not the only ones who are granted the Gift of Life on this earth created by God.

How do we deal with money, property as we live in a family and community? The Church’s detailed Teachings is a delight and ‘LIGHT’ as we get up each day to work, earn and eat of our efforts and talents. So my Father as so the Father of my children made the dedicated effort to teach the girl children in our midst. This was so that we are Blessed with knowledge and Wisdom to live fruitfully and grow and allow others to grow. The Women are then presented opportunities to be self-sufficient and be capable of functioning well be it in a family or in society to use their God-given talents.

The Choice to work outside to earn or not, is optional and dependent on many factors after a Woman is Married. But the RIGHT to education is not an option left to the Choice of parents. We have seen how gradually society evolved favorably to favor Men to the Rights to education, wealth, property of parents etc…  Women had to fight this lopsided battle for many centuries and they were ably supported by righteous Men along the Way who understood the importance of having educated and enlightened Minds all around. Today education is mandatory for all children in many countries.

So if my Father had not been enlightened by the Bible, it was very likely that I would have been affected by it and therefore also my daughters. I will today talk of Kerala, the land of my birth and my Parents, it is a land afflicted by the evils of Communism leading it to be thwarted to use its abundant resources fruitfully. Hence, a lot of people had to migrate to find better opportunities around the world.

Thousands of years ago many entered India through its shores, especially early traders on account of its lush vegetation and abundance of spices, notable among them being pepper among others and it is a revelation to read about Kerala being an important trade route as early as 3000 BC.

So the influence of the Arabian & European cultures among others is evident and should be enjoyed as its presence left their mark on ‘ God’s own country ‘-  Christianity ought to have spread beyond its boundaries to all over India. However, lack of understanding of the application of its Faith by many in the name of perceived ‘Superiority’ has left its repercussions on millions who today could have been CONVERTED in their hearts which would have made it’s benefits to not only this country but also the World.

CONVERSION: Often in India we have other communities blame Christians for forcible Conversion. This is not Christianity for it would be direct disobedience of Jesus who sees only the conversion of one’s Hearts to the Commandments of God. How can any community be naive as to assume that we can fool the One who created every cell, nucleus, molecules etc. in a Human Body or granted us the Gift to Think and Feel..?

The only Conversion Jesus talks about is of our own selves and our ACTIONS following this Faith in our daily lives as we live in families among communities. So it is sad to see Christians in Kerala so deeply divided but whereas I wouldn’t be so concerned as it happens thousands of miles away in a place where I have just visited maybe 6 or 7 times in my life, it matters vitally today because people of such beliefs have come in as family and have been instrumental in cutting up my maternal family leaving in its wake my Father dead in sorrow, my sibling dead and our Mother Mercy, a Widow lonely and alone in India where none of her children reside. All these could have been averted by timely communication to resolve as is taught by the Church. But how is communication possible if family members CUT OFF its own without efforts to listen or resolve, it affects this Widow, our Mother Mercy as she is lost in sorrow at the sight of her remaining 3 children not in communion with one another…or their children..!

Going in the past…… when we as a Community worship in a Church together and we happen to see an eligible girl as a suitable alliance for my brother – we approached and the Marriage took place in the very same Church where we all worshipped as equals under the Head, Our Lord Jesus. While none can claim since the times of the Apostles and the people they converted that they were born Christians, since then, most of the Christians are Baptized as children in the Catholic Faith. We are not born with Wisdom or knowledge, but we are initiated into the Faith by our Parents and then the Church. So every Christian is essentially a CONVERT. So I assumed it was natural that we all learn from Parents and Elders around in the Community as they learn from the Church instituted by Jesus. It was only much later in my life that I was rudely awoken to the fact that this ‘learning and evolving’ was and is not part of many Christians’ journey of life.

There seems to be a ‘disconnect’ of being in the Church and then out of it, back in the families and community. While it can be said in today’s age of ‘Relativism’ that everyone has a Choice to live their lives as they please, I do see that lack of adherence to the Church does have its direct impact on a person, family and community and thereby the World we live in…and where lives today our grandchildren and their families to come.

The OLPS Church had in its Wisdom of its Shepherds got timely guidance by way of Preachers, Counselors etc. which greatly benefitted me as I was seeking among the lures of many Voices of ‘Superiors’ in the community, celebrities and culture – to be able to help our two daughters to complete their education. I had the tremendous support and Wisdom of my own Parents as they guided again and again of the importance of education in one’s life and the Sacrifice involved of the parents to ensure the same. Here I will take this medium to thank my Parents in public for making sure that I got through my school and college to at least have a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce and I remember how in my ignorance I had told my Mother rather arrogantly that I was taking the Bachelor’s degree only for her for even as I grew up in the culture of ‘Hippie era’ around the world, but she made sure that I did my work and studies…

This basic education had its value and when my Father could not continue abroad in Saudi due to a Heart condition, I got a job soon after my degree, the few chosen from lakhs of aspirants in a Bank entrance examination held centrally, as it was a sought after job. It mattered because after my Father came back ill, I was then the only earning member with three younger siblings still pursuing their education in school and college.

Later when I got married – an arranged Marriage by my Parents, it was the decision of my husband to ask me to give up my job after our first daughter was born because he did not want me rushing for a job as well as take care of our daughter and home. Those days he was away 3 months at a time, on an onshore job in Abu Dhabi followed by a month’s break back home in Mumbai and the rotation continued for 24 years of our married lives till we moved to Abu Dhabi.

My husband being a first-born and also having two brothers and a sister younger than him – like me, together we have quite a big family as all are married and have their own families. Both of us have our Widowed Mothers now back in Mumbai past their 70s. Our Mothers should have been happy and well looked after …but that is not the case. This should NOT have been so,  for OLPS Church in Chembur had called in an eminent Lawyer about 20 years back. This was in realization of the problem all around where Parents, especially old widows or widowers were left back as children migrated for better opportunities. The bane of the problem was the houses or flats of these old parents whereby they lived there but did not have either financial support or physical support from the children whom they raised to reach a certain level of independence to work and earn their own living.

In India, parents work and serve their children often at the cost of savings for their future. They spend everything in taking care of their children and it is natural for many to then take care of their parents in their old age. So while technically this is easy for someone who has one child, especially a Son..it is different when a couple have only a daughter. Here we will limit ourselves to sharing about the problems when a couple have both Sons and daughters whom they slogged to educate on honest earnings and then are forced to depend on the children, as they run out of savings.

So while it was horrifying to hear about the Priests talk about other families where the old were languishing alone, I took determined steps when the Priests got in this Lawyer to help the congregation understand the importance of making a WILL so that families have a direction and maintain FAMILY PEACE & UNITY after the Parents’ time.  We will see that lack of this singular factor has the effect of making the surviving children torn asunder when wives, husbands, children etc. are lured by satan to create DIVIDE for then indeed ‘Mammon’ becomes god. Why should this happen when the Church teaches the WORD of GOD relating to everything about our lives?

So when the Lawyer stated from the pulpit of OLPS Church of how Wills should be made in Parents’ lifetime, I carried this message back over the phone to my husband in Abu Dhabi and also my parents in Mumbai. When he came back home, we talked about it and then shared with both sets of our Parents the Wisdom of making a Will so that everyone in the family has a direction. The tradition in Kerala is that most of the times the house is written off to the youngest Son in the family as all others would be married and have to make their own homes to settle their families. The youngest one would take care of the old parents and after his own marriage live on in the family home. This is fair and just for all for it does involve time, effort and money to take care of the old. So after being there for the old parents for their many needs in their old age, it is right that this Son gets compensated for these expenses or he would be burdened with all the responsibilities involved. The other children pitch in or share as is their love to the old parents but the parents have a roof, they have love, warmth, shelter and support among their own.

We advised our parents the same that their homes can be written off to the youngest Sons in our respective families and this was duly shared with the Sons who were all abroad with their respective families. If this was not acceptable, the right thing would have been to share back that this was not feasible or possible and be upfront about it so that the family can then discuss and have other options and plans as back up.

So while I shared with my parents and they decided in due course to give their flat to the youngest Son, it was I assumed understood that this Son and family would take over whenever the need arose. So when our Father expired, our Mother still continued to live alone for 3 years with a maid to assist her as she was confident, because we lived in a close-by suburb and so she had family to assist in case of any contingencies such as sickness or hospitalizations required. The problems arose when in April 2006 after 24 years of Marriage, we had the opportunity to migrate to Abu Dhabi and live as a family. Why should there have been any problems if this Mother was then taken happily to the US – the land of dreams for many and especially so for this Mother who had two Sons and family in this land..?

But as our youngest daughter reached the US in November, 2013 and tried to contact her Granny again and again living at that time with her youngest Son and family in Boston, Mother Mercy chose to return to India in May 2014 without communicating with us in Chicago at that time. Our daughter’s calls to request her Granny to come and live with her for a couple of months was ignored. She then wrote an email to her Uncle about her arrival to Chicago for a job and the request to be able to communicate with her Granny. There was complete silence and in December, 2014, our sibling, the elder Son of this Mother passed away in Seattle.  And Mother Mercy who now lived in Mumbai was conveyed the tragedy of the death of her Son. She could not attend his funeral nor has the family gathered together since then, to pray for his Soul or his remains cremated brought down, to be buried next to his Father Mr. Pereira as was conveyed to her. She was alone in this tragedy with no family to share in this bereavement and has been alone since as neither hers or my pleas as the eldest to have unity and peace with due counseling and help from the Church – met with any avail..!

“..For the sake of the common good, it requires respect for the universal destination of goods and respect for the right to private property…” The Seventh Commandment.

” The tenth commandment forbids all desire to take or to keep unjustly what belongs to others, and also forbids envy at their success.

Take heed and guard yourself from all covetousness, for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. (Luke 12:15)

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