Lex Cordis Caritas - The law of the heart is Love

by Bishop Thomas John Paprocki

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ:

As a hockey fan, I feel disappointed that there have been no National Hockey League games played this season due to the labor dispute following the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement last September. Negotiations between league officials, owners, players and their union have been going on now for months with no sign of agreement in sight.

Officially this labor dispute is being called a lockout, but there is a more basic term that underlies this whole sorry situation: it's called greed. Hockey players and team owners are basically fighting over how to divvy up billions of dollars in revenue.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the average NHL player salary was $2.4 million per year before the start of the 2011-12 season. Forbes magazine reports that the average NHL team is worth $282 million. So I and most fans who simply love the game of hockey do not have a lot of sympathy for either side in this labor dispute. We are getting our fill of hockey by watching the Springfield Junior Blues and the Sacred Heart-Griffin Cyclones High School Hockey Club.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, "The Tenth Commandment forbids greed and the desire to amass earthly goods without limit. It forbids avarice arising from a passion for riches and their attendant power. It also forbids the desire to commit injustice by harming our neighbor in his temporal goods: When the Law says, 'You shall not covet,' these words mean that we should banish our desires for whatever does not belong to us. Our thirst for another's goods is immense, infinite, never quenched. Thus it is written: 'He who loves money never has money enough' (2536)."

The antidote to greed is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church calls, "poverty of heart": "Jesus enjoins his disciples to prefer him to everything and everyone, and bids them 'renounce all that [they have]' for his sake and that of the Gospel. Shortly before his passion he gave them the example of the poor widow of Jerusalem who, out of her poverty, gave all that she had to live on. The precept of detachment from riches is obligatory for entrance into the Kingdom of heaven (2644). All Christ's faithful are to 'direct their affections rightly, lest they be hindered in their pursuit of perfect charity by the use of worldly things and by an adherence to riches which is contrary to the spirit of evangelical poverty' (2545). 'Blessed are the poor in spirit.' The Beatitudes reveal an order of happiness and grace, of beauty and peace. Jesus celebrates the joy of the poor, to whom the Kingdom already belongs (2546)."

Soon we will celebrate Christmas. Christmas is the antithesis of greed. Christmas is all about generosity. May your Christmas season be filled with a generous spirit and an abundance of love for God and neighbor. Merry Christmas!

May God give us this grace. Amen.