Necessities vs. Superfluities
(I posted this a while back in my two other blogs, but it was so popular, I’ve decided to post again… I’m going through the list now that we’re moving across the country in the next few weeks and it seems we have a LONG way to go!)
This examen is straight from Fr. Dubay’s book Happy Are You Poor. He says that we all have different needs so we “cannot know whether a need is real or illusory” for certain people, but these set of questions are at least a good start. Some may think this is a bit too rigorous… but examens should be rigorous–or perhaps blunt and sincere.
- By what standards do I determine what is necessary?
- Do I collect unneeded things? Do I hoard possessions?
- May I, on Gospel principles, buy clothes at the dictates of fashion designers in Paris and New York? Am I slave to fashion? Do I live in other peoples’ minds? Why really do I have all the clothes I have: shirts, blouses, suits, dresses, shoes, gloves?
- Am I an inveterate nibbler? Do I eat because I am bored? Do the weight charts convict me of superfluity in eating and drinking? Do I take second helpings simply for the pleasure they afford?
- Do I keep unneeded books and papers and periodicals and notes?
- Do I retain two or three identical items (clocks, watches, scarves) of which I really need only one?
- Do I spend money on trinkets and unnecessary conveniences?
- In the winter, do we keep our thermostat, at a setting higher than health experts advise: 68 degrees?
- When I think of my needs, do I also think of the far more drastic needs of the teeming millions in the third world?
- Do I need the traveling I do more than the poor need food and clothing and medical care?
- Am I right in contributing to the billions of dollars spent each year on cosmetics? How much of this can be called necessary?
- Is smoking necessary for me?
- Is drinking necessary for me?
- Do I need to examine exactly what I mean by saying to myself, “I need this”?
- Can I honestly say that all I use or possess is used or possessed for the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31)? Would he be given more glory by some other use?
- Do I in the pauline sense “mind the things above, not those on earth” (Col 3:1-2)?