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Faith and the Economy

What is our Catholic faith worth in bad financial times?

You don’t need to look too far to see that the economy is not great. Maybe you know someone who’s out of work, or there may be a foreclosed house on your block. Unemployment just went up one-tenth with no one predicting a dramatic turnaround any time soon. If you have a job you want to keep it. If you don’t have one, you wear yourself out with searching and worrying.

At times like this, you may wonder what your Catholic faith has to offer. Here are some suggestions how, if you’re out of work, the Catholic faith can work for you:

1. On a practical level, parishes can serve as networking centers, with people who know about employment opportunities posting them on a church bulletin board (or parish website) for those who are seeking a job. A parish is a natural “sphere of opportunity” not only for spiritual strength but also for referrals and goodwill.

2. An intention for unemployed parishioners can be added to the Prayer of the Faithful at Mass.

3. A prayer group for unemployed individuals can be held each week, perhaps during the daytime, to provide those who are out of work with companionship and prayer support. Sometimes things don’t seem so bad when you share, or see how others who are prayerfully dealing with their problems.

4. On a personal level, an unemployed person may have more time and incentive for regular prayer. Sometimes we don’t know how much we need God until we realize we can’t do it all by ourselves. Being out of work can be distressing, but it can also be humbling in a positive way if we reach out to God to guide our thoughts, emotions and relationships with family and friends.

5. You can also make weekday Mass part of your daily routine. Start the day with morning Mass before checking the online job listings or setting off for an interview. Listening to God, instead of always telling him what you need, is a good practice in any circumstances.

Remember, however, that the Catholic faith is not a cure for all earthly ills, nor a shield against unemployment, financial hardship and stress. Some of the greatest saints suffered the most in this life. Bad things can happen to good people.

What our faith does offer, whether we have a job or not, is communion with God – “In whom we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Hardship and pain in life are not good in themselves, but they can be a means of focusing on what is truly important.

We have the assurance of faith that God is good and watching over us even when we seem abandoned by our economy. Even though we may be separated from the job that provided so much of our identity and a steady income, we know that we can never be separated from a loving God. As St. Paul writes:

“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

Let us use the comment box below to add some thoughts on the economy, unemployment and the role of God in our lives when things are not going well.