The Panic of 2019

“Money serves to bring about many good things, so many works for human development, but when your heart is attached in this way, it destroys you.”

Pope Francis

I’ve never wanted for anything. I grew up in a very comfortable home and while I cower at the prospect of college tuition times four, as an adult, I remain undisputedly comfortable. So when my wife Tricia began working full-time again this January out of desire to serve a mission, we thought, “Even better – more money!” Except, no. Without going into all of the painful details, after two months, we somehow found ourselves within hours of an automatic withdrawal payment for a massive credit card bill for which the checking account could not handle. As we stared at each other across the kitchen table in utter confusion, we both said, “How could this be?” Our first reaction was to throw a party…a pity party that is. “We work so hard. Childcare is so expensive. We give too much to the Church.” We immediately sat down to identify the obvious fraudulent purchases that had snuck by us. Except there were none. I then set out to prove the definite correlation between our new babysitting bills and our deficit. It didn’t exist. As we went line by line, the truth became more apparent with every expense – impulse, a lot of carelessness, Christmas, and just some plain old gluttony. Nothing in and of itself egregious, but added up, a clear picture that in our comfort and our busyness, we had become lazy. That night, as Tricia opened her weekly scripture study, the topic was finances and Matthew 6:25-34. Message received. Pity party over. Amazon return party commenced.

A bishop I respect very much recently shared with me that the origins of the word “apocalypse” comes from the Greek meaning “an uncovering.” While our mini financial calamity was by no means apocalyptic compared to the real plight of many, our momentary panic presented an opportunity – a revelation of knowledge, an uncovering of God’s message. It’s a message that we’ve always known, but that we were more tuned into hearing because of the pain of our present moment. As a leader, in moments of fear, pain, and uncertainty, do I tune in to the uncovering that is possible? Do I seek my responsibility in what has led to the crisis at hand? Can I discern my unique call to emerge from it? Our checking account is back in the black, but only time will tell how disciplined my discipleship balance sheet will look.

by Daniel Cellucci

Mar 11, 2019

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