What constitutes "extravagence"?

I was re-reading a few sections of The Value-Driven Life by Fr. Benedict Groeschel.  He takes an "old school" approach and looks at the cardinal and theological virtues and how they can and should be lived out in the Christian life. 
At one point, Fr. Groeschel strongly speaks against living extravagently, and says that this lifestyle should "never" be a part of life for a follower of Christ
However, he isn't very clear what "extravagence" means. 

I was showering the other morning, and it struck me:  I get to choose what I smell like every day.  I can choose vanilla, orange, lime, plain ole' soap.  Not only do I get to shower daily, I can choose my aroma.  With millions of people around the world with NO access to clean water for drinking or sanitation, is my daily shower extravagance?

Any one of us can point out instances like this:  our daily stop for coffee, eating out several times a week, a closet full of clothes that we may or may not wear.  We can also point out where we pinch pennies, I'm sure, but clearly, the life of the average American is one that begs the question:  what IS extravagence?  Even more importantly, we need to ask ourselves if our "little" extravagences come at the price of someone truly in need.  If I skip my shower scents, and saved that money, could I donate it?  Of course. 

Not only do I have to ask myself,  "What is extravagence", I need to ask myself,  "When I find myself being extravagent, am I willing to change?"  As a follower of Christ, we need to be willing to search our souls -- extravagently.

1 comment:

  1. This is very thought provoking. I have mused over this topic before but haven't come to any wise conclusions! Here's a few comments. I hope I'm on the right track! We could all live more simple lives and reduce extravagance, as you say, in order to have more money to share with those less fortunate. I used to think that buying things to make a beautiful and comfortable home was extravagant. Then someone pointed out that a beautiful Catholic home is a place of refuge from the world and many people need such a place. We should just be willing to share our home with others. Despite living simply we will always have a more extravagant life than most. That daily shower you mentioned is an example. Should we give it up, together with all those other things which are a natural part of life such as our computers, our cars...? Or should we be grateful and use them in the service of God? I guess more is expected of those who have more. Yes, I shall be searching my soul this Advent and perhaps we will have the means for greater almsgiving because of denying ourselves those exra extravagances. Thank you for this post. God bless


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