Monday, January 11, 2010
The Prosperity Gospel
Today I went with my wife to her doctor's appointment on how to proceed with her cancer treatment following the completion of chemotherapy. (They are going to run tests and if everything is clear, it's just a matter of monitoring).
Upon returning home and getting the mail from the box, I received a letter which had emblazoned on the front "DEAR JESUS, WE PRAY THAT YOU WILL BLESS SOMEONE IN THIS HOME SPIRITUALLY, PHYSICALLY AND FINANCIALLY." Upon opening the envelope, I was told "THIS LETTER BRINGS SOME GOOD NEWS AND HELP FOR YOU!" Good, after 6 months of cancer treatment and running a demanding law practice solo without my partner (my wife is also my law partner) I need all the good news and help I can get.
The letter goes on to tell me in huge print with large Jack Chick-esq cartoon graphics, "GOD HAS MADE THESE PROMISES TO YOU IN THE HOLY BIBLE . . . POWER TO GET WEALTH" and lists about half a dozen scripture verses in support. There then follows about ten testimonials. For instance, Mrs. R.W. of Pennsylvania relates that she needed a place to live and God answered her prayer by giving her an entire apartment building with paying tenants that she is now the owner of.
And all I have to do is send off in faith for THE BIBLE PRAYER CROSS which has been prayed over by the PRAYER FAMILY in Tulsa, Oklahoma and I will receive MORE HAPPINESS, LOVE, JOY, MONEY AND PEACE. And all of this is free to me. In a few days I will receive my FREE PRAYER CROSS. This letter does not ask for a donation but I am quite sure that when my FREE PRAYER CROSS arrives I will be prompted, since the Lord is getting ready to heal me and my family of all our illnesses and provide us with unlimited amounts of money, to send a donation in support of this ministry.
I told my former Episcopal priest the other day that one of the things that has helped my wife and I during our difficult time is that there is no prosperity gospel in Catholicism. (Although since coming into the Church and subscribing to certain periodicals, I have gotten mail from Catholic groups which is about like this except they are usually talking about Marian apparitions, the Secrets of Fatima, the miracles of Padre Pio and so forth.)
What's wrong with using God like a magic box? Jesus said "Ask and ye shall receive," so if I ask to be healthy and rich how come I can't expect to have my cancer cured and wait for the check to come in the mail?
The venerable old BALTIMORE CATECHISM says this:
"What is Prayer? Prayer is the lifting up of our minds and hearts to God."
"Why do we not always obtain what we pray for? We do not always obtain what we pray for, either because we have not prayed properly or because God sees that what we are asking would not be for our good."
I have BALTIMORE CATECHISM NUMBER 2 which was intended for children. The explanation of the above paragraph says "Asking in His name means asking for love of Him, since the name represents the person bearing it. We ask for what we need to love Him. Even if we do not use these words, what we really mean is this: "O Lord, please give me what I need to please You, and if what I am asking for does not really please You then do not give it to me. Give me instead what would really please You, even if it is a cross." Such a prayer, God has guaranteed to answer. . . . Many people do not pray in the name of Christ, as explained in the preceding answer, but pray in this way instead: 'O Lord, please give me what I want.' And they do not think whether or not it will help them to love God more, and sometimes they do not even care. God has never guaranteed to answer a prayer such as this, as it is not really a prayer but selfishness."
Here's the question, did God bless Saint Peter who was crucified upside down and Saint Paul who suffered many hardships and was then beheaded? Did God bless Saint Therese of the Lisieux who died of Tuberculosis in her early twenties? Did God bless Saint Bernadette whom Our Lady told that she could promise her no comfort in this world? How about Saint Francis who lived as a beggar and was blessed by being given the wounds of the stigmata?
Brothers and Sisters, we serve the CRUCIFIED GOD. Our Lord was a man of sorrows who had no place to lay his head. Why should we expect that we are entitled to more in life than Our Lord? Saint Paul said that he was determined to boast in nothing but Christ and Him crucified. The so-called "Prosperity Gospel" is a great heresy.