Heaven and treating yourself to an ice cream

It’s written all over the Bible. God’s said it. Jesus has said it… To get to Heaven (=happiness forever!) we have to obey His command: "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself." (Lk 10:27)

Is EVERYTHING I do related to my getting to Heaven, even how I spend my money? Of course it is! How will I get to Heaven if I spend my money selfishly or waste it or fail to invest it wisely, i.e. for eternity?

Should I treat myself constantly to an ice cream, to going to the movies, to visiting an amusement park, going on vacations, etc? There’s obviously no step-by-step user’s manual for every possible circumstance, but here are 3 guidelines taken from Catholic Church teaching (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 69) to help us reflect, so we can apply the universal criteria to our personal lives…

1. DON’T BE STINGY – We are ALL obliged to help the poor and to do so not merely with our “leftovers.” Feel fine giving your old shoes and clothes to St. Vincent de Paul every time you want a new wardrobe? Remember what Jesus said when He saw people giving alms in the temple? “This poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood" (Mk. 12:43-44).

2. YOU’RE NOT THE ONLY LIFE ON THIS PLANET – And if you haven’t yet realized this, you cannot qualify for “intelligent life” on this planet… God loves all His creatures, above all mankind and His desire is that ALL people can be able to use the fruits of creation in like manner. Didn’t your parents ever tell you, “Just keep in mind that you’re not the center of the universe and not everything revolves around you”? If they didn’t, here we are to tell you now:)

3. YOURS, MINE, AND OURS - In using material things (car, bike, house, money, etc) we should regard the external things that we legitimately possess not only as our own but also as belonging to others in the sense that they should be able to benefit not only him but also others. Did you know that Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, for example, came from a very wealthy family but had a little notebook where he would write down every penny he spent? That way he could make sure he was spending it right!

So, just because I have “extra” money, that doesn’t entitle me to spend it on myself. We should all stop and reflect to see if instead of buying myself candy or an ice cream every other day or instead of smoking up a chimney, maybe I can try reducing spending on my cravings and set that money apart for the missions or for the poor. Trying to find a sure place to spend your money on others? When you go to Mass every Sunday, throw it in the basket when the ushers pass (as Catholics, we have the obligation of giving 10% of our income to help the Church in her needs in serving mankind). If you see that Jesus asks you to give more, here’s an example of where you can help out: Missionary Groups of the Home of the Mother.

-Sr Anna Riordan, SHM