Over at the resurrected Crisis Magazine, Dawn Carpenter, member of the graduate school of business faculty at CUA, has some points that Catholic store owners would be well to keep in mind:
1. Man is called to work, and money is spiritual.
Man is wired for work — to be productive. It is part of our mission and who we are as human beings.
We find this laid out in the opening verses of Genesis. God is introduced to us as the omnipotent Creator who makes man in His own image, inviting man to work the soil and cultivate and care for the Earth. Man is given dominion over all living creatures — not as a tyrant, but as a caretaker and protector. The man did not create the goods of the Earth; they are God’s creation, and man’s role is to respect and fulfill the responsibility of the stewardship of God’s material world. God is the owner, and man is His manager.
It is important to remember that work is part of the original state of man and precedes his fall. It is not therefore a punishment or curse, but something that should be enthusiastically embraced. We know that work is honorable, because it provides the resources necessary to live a decent life and to have the means of combating poverty. In its most elemental sense, work is the fulfillment of our duty pursuant to our state in life.
Of course, we’ve come a long way since the days in the Garden. Today, work is often associated strictly with the production and accumulation of wealth — and there is some truth in that. But with eyes of faith, we see there is more to it: Work is service to mankind, and money is simply a medium of exchange.
Real value is not measured solely by money. Money itself is a spiritual thing, in the sense that its true essence isn’t material: It can be created and destroyed without ever touching it. If the world were ending tomorrow, what would be the value of your assets tonight? Immediately, wealth would be destroyed. Conversely, markets can be driven up simply based on news reports or advertising — and suddenly, wealth is created.
Why are these notions of work and money valuable? They are the basis of understanding our vocation to business as spiritual, and thus within the realm faith.