Reverse Prosperity Gospel!?


Something I keep running across as a Catholic is a concept I can only call a reverse prosperity Gospel, where the closer to Our Lord you get the more you suffer and more [Earthly] things you lose. If your not suffering and your life isn’t coming apart your doing something wrong.

This makes me wonder if being a good Catholic and living a happy and prosperous life are incompatible.

That is if I should end up upper middle class with a nice home with a swimming pool and lots of money I have done something really wrong.

To me this doesn’t seem right, following Our Lord doesn’t equate to material success but at the same time it does not mean must be poor and homeless either.


basically following the Lord means whatever is in His will. Some He calls to poverty…such as the religious, who take vows of poverty. It depends. There isn’t a rule.

Our lives, whatever religion we are, (or no religion) include suffering no matter what. Everyone suffers in different ways. Catholicism offers us a way to make this suffering useful, to let it help sanctify us… because Christ has sanctified suffering by going through it… He told us to pick up our cross and follow Him. This doesn’t mean just suffering, it means what we DO with the suffering we get.

it’s not always poverty. Some people have more ‘hidden’ suffering. Interior trials and such. Again, it depends. :wink:

the problem with the prosperity gospel is that it denies the idea that God takes something bad like suffering and turns it to good (our sanctification). People who believe this are missing out, IMO. Because no matter what, life on earth includes trials. We are to embrace our crosses and carry them after Christ. Unite our suffering to His.

The Saints even thanked God for their suffering.

Sometimes it also serves to purify us… for example, if someone is really materialistic they might end up losing everything but hopefuly they won’t lose their soul in the end. If someone is not materialistic, it would be good for them to do something to help the poor, simply out of love for God.


Sometimes I have felt the same way too and I agree with you on the second point too

… following Our Lord doesn’t equate to material success but at the same time it does not mean must be poor and homeless either.

From personal experience I find that “reverse prosperity” is from

– escapism that a Christian may go through where he is waiting for things to “drop down” from heaven rather than work for it.

– lack of faith, where the Christian is depending on his own strength to do things (which may have worked in the old life but doesn’t anymore in the new) rather than depend on the Lord.

– lack of repentance and penance, where the Christian is praying and working but nothing seems to come out right. The sin acts as a block to the blessings. Blessings seem to slip away at the last moment.


I’ve noticed that to. A slight variation on it the idea that “you’re not being a good Catholic unless the whole world hates and persecutes you.” I think the underlying message in there is there is much genuine joy in being close to God, that we shouldn’t let what others do and say affect our relationship with him.

I learned in my history class once that Christanity suffered something of an identity crisis when it became to “official religion,” so to speak, of the Roman Empire. They went from being those who are defined by persucution and “tak[ing] up your cross” to “whoah, all of a sudden nobody hates us.”

A lot of it, I think, is just being stuck in the past when religious herecy was punishable by death.



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