Yes, always. The Church calls this idea "the preferential option for the poor". It means that we should base our decisions on how our actions affect the poor. We should, at all times, remain keenly aware of how we are connected to them and that our actions do affect them. Not only that, but whenever possible, we are called to help the poor through the choices we make in our daily life.
Lent is a wonderful time to think about the poor and make sacrifices to benefit them. But it's not the only time of year that we should be doing this. Take a minute and think about how much money you spend in a day and where you spend it. Where we spend our money and how much of it we spend can definitely affect the poor.
So, what choices do you make on a daily basis that could affect the poor? Do you buy fancy coffee drinks every morning on your way to work? How about skipping coffee on some mornings and giving that money to a charitable cause? If you REALLY need the caffeine fix, you can always make coffee at home. (GASP! I know it's a radical idea, isn't it?) What about the closets in your house? Are they filled with things you keep "just in case"? If so, you may be guilty of hoarding and hoarding goes against God's plan of the universal destination of goods that I talked about last week.
My husband and I recently decided not to move into a larger home (at least for a while). When we made this decision, we realized that we had been holding onto things we thought we might need in a larger house someday. After finding new homes for some things, giving others to charity and tossing or recycling a lot of the rest, we suddenly realized that our home that had been "too small" was suddenly much larger! We had fallen into the trap of convincing ourselves that we needed more space. In actuality, we just needed less stuff!
Fr. Robert Barron has a talk called "Seven Deadly Sins, Seven Lively Virtues" where he discusses how the virtues counterbalance the Deadly Sins. In his talk he suggests that when making a large purchase you should find the item you want, buy the model one level down and donate the difference to the poor. Wow! That's a challenge. How many of us are willing to make that sacrifice? (Learn more about Fr. Barron's work at www.wordonfire.org. )
One of my faithful readers quoted Mother Teresa to me recently in response to my blog about temperance. "Live simply, so that others may simply live." What a profound statement and a profound challenge to us all.
What about you? How do you resist the pull of the material world and keep your mind on the poor?