Sick, Stupid and Destitute?


Please help me here—I’m utterly confused. I was watching a program (might have been EWTN) that was a round table discussion about the Cross and its meaning, and the participants (a priest among them) seemed to be saying that we should not wish to be smart, successful, or healthy.

And then I saw one of the EWTN homilies seemed to echo this sentiment----and it appeared to me that this priest was even saying it is sinful to have what average people would call a ‘good life.’

I’m like @__@

I want to obey the teachings of the Church. But how can a loving parent look at an infant and wish a life of sickness, stupidity, and destitution for that infant? Isn’t that the opposite of most parents’ natural instincts? And are all natural instincts morally evil? I have a hard time believing that wanting a good life for your kids is morally evil. Maybe I just don’t get it.

There are a lot of things that confuse the stuffing out of me. This is one of them.


Without having seen the show you watched, I am merely speculating here…

Perhaps you are confusing embracing suffering with actively wishing for it.


Here is the way I see it…

We see so many parents who spend every effort and penny to make sure that little Johnny is the smartest, that he gets into the right schools, that he makes straight A’s, that he is in every extracirricular activity - cause you know at age 10 you are building your college application. Then, when high school nears it goes into overdrive, SAT prep lessons, heaps of more activities - agony over which 30K per semester school the child will attend - both shoving money in and encouraging that child to get into vast debt.

Then it is all about getting little Johnny the right internship during school, pledging the right frat - make sure he has a great car and the latest clothes, and a well heeled apartement.

We want that child to be a success! To be smart! He has zits, for heaven’s sake let’s get a big pile of drugs in him to clear out that skin, he cannot look UNHEALTHY!

As Christians, our first goal is to raise our children to know, love and serve the Lord. To instill in our children the hearts of servants, to teach them that beauty shines from a pure heart, to do everything to make sure our children get to Heaven. We are called to raise children who are meek, humble, and wise - not smart pretty and talented.


The core of this argument seems to be, what is the defnition of “the good life”?

From your reaction, I would gather that your idea of a good life is one in which one is healthy, not destitute, and has average intelligence. There is nothing sinful in praying for good health, for your needs to be taken care of.

I think the priest was probably referring to the average American’s definition of 'The good life" as portrayed on TV and in movies. You know, a large house, two big cars, living for material goods and not for God.

It is sinful to live materialistically, especially at the cost of one’s soul. It is not sinful to strive to house one’s family, keep them fed, and stay healthy.


That’s not what I meant at all—I just think it’s a natural instinct for a parent to want to protect a child.

My confusion comes from what the people were saying in that it seemed totally the opposite.

I also realize you can’t know what I’m talking about unless you also saw the program. I stumbled upon it in the middle so I don’t know what it was called.

However, I’ve seen this TYPE of message over and over again, and it always causes me distress.

I genuinely want to know if every instinct is wrong and sinful and that we should pray to become sick and destitute, when most people would see that as, well, kind of messed up.

If we’re all sick and destitute WHO takes care of our kids, our elderly?

Really, my head is spinning.


Try a different approach to this. For the sake of discussion, let’ts take this one scentence “we should not wish to be smart, successful or healthy”.

That does not mean that we are obliged to wish for the opposite.

It means that we should seek virtue, seek the things of importance to God.

Matthew 6 - I would suggest reading the entire passage and meditating on it…

25 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat (or drink), or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? 27 Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? 17 28 Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. 29 But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. 30 18 If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ 32 All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. 34 Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.


Let me suggest you explore the book Happy Are You Poor by Fr. Thomas Dubay.


Poor Sailor! It is indeed confusing.

This is a chesnut of an aritcle I found from This Rock that I really, really liked. I think it explains things excellently.


Good book, but very depressing and difficult to implement, imho. Certainly virtuous but not very realisitic? The Catholic book group I participate in read this and felt, that while there certainly were good things in this book, it’s a painful read–just as an fyi


I agree with this common-sense approach. I think it’s a matter of balance. The popular culture disregards God and puts Him last. I think there’s a big difference between putting God first and disregarding the material welfare of ourselves and our families. Obviously, if we’re sick, destitute and homeless there’s not alot we can do to help others or to carry out God’s plan for us. On the flip side, people who focus entirely on materialism are not doing God’s work either.

I think the balance here is to keep our families and ourselves fed, clothed, healthy AND focused on God. I don’t see this as an either-or proposition.

I hope this helps.



points to siggy line

Since my religious upbringing until that point consisted of being told that God would strike me dead if I misbehaved, I have real difficulty with anything that could be perceived as a mixed message.

“What? They’re telling me to hate my life and yet to love everyone?”

head explodes


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