Wealth Which Enslaves

“Material wealth enslaves us, sharpening self-interest, corroding the heart, overwhelming us with anxiety and fear; like an insatiable demon, it demands sacrifice. Instead of serving us, it makes us serve it. Cannot the same be said of the treasures of health, strength, youth, beauty, talent? Do not they likewise confirm in our pride and constrain the heart, leading it away from God? Yes, truly: ‘Blessed are the poor’ in the world’s goods. How easily they gain evangelical lightness of spirit and freedom of earthly fetters; but blessed also are those who are without health and youth (for ‘he who suffers in the flesh ceases to sin’). Blessed the ugly, the ungifted, the unlucky – they are free of the chief enemy, pride – for they have nothing to be proud of. But what are we to do if God has granted us this or that earthly gift?  Is it possible that we shall not be saved until we are divested of it? We may keep (but not for ourselves) our riches and still be saved, but we must be interiorly free of them; we must tear our heart from them, hold our treasures as if we did not hold them; possess them, but not let them possess us; lay them at Christ’s feet and serve Him through them.” (Father Yelchaninov in A Treasury of Russian Spirituality, pp 439-440)