Uncluttered by Money: 21 February

Cut up the card

A certain brother asked of an elder, saying: If a brother owes me a little money, do you think I should ask him to pay me back? The elder said to him: Ask him for it once only, and with humility. The brother said: Sup­pose I ask him once and he doesn’t give me anything, what should I do? Then the elder said: Don’t ask him any more. The brother said again: But what can I do, I cannot get rid of my anxieties about it, unless I go and ask him? The elder said to him: Forget your anxieties. The important thing is not to sadden your brother, for you are a monk.

Reading: Matthew 6:28-33

28 “Why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."


In our almost cashless world, I worry about what happens if the shop or restaurant doesn’t accept my debit card because I rarely have any cash.  This is especially the case when I am abroad and need to use more cash.  Will there be an ATM?  What if it chews my card?  How much should I get out?

The goal of the desert dwellers was freedom from anx­iety over worldly concerns; one method of achieving this was a radical renunciation of artificial security, particularly hoarded savings. The Rule of St. Benedict, based in part on the experiences of the desert dwellers, focuses on the principle that we cannot give ourselves entirely to God if we continue to obsess about having enough.

Thomas Merton explains that letting go of our demands for total security is not easy, but when we do, the result is liberation on a grand scale. "The purpose of monastic detachment," he says, "is simply to leave the monk unencumbered, free to move, in posses­sion of his spiritual senses and of his right mind, capable of living a charismatic life in freedom of spirit."


I’m going to cut up a credit card which gives me a false sense of security at, of course, a high rate of interest.  It will be a symbol of freedom from unnecessary anxiety about money.


May I place my security in you, Lord, upon you and not the cards in my pocket.