The masses who participate in the madness to gain mere gadgets and gizzmos provide a glimpse of another possible scenario. Imagine a situation where these people are not salivating over iPods and plasma screens... but instead are starving from lack of nutrition and thirsting from lack of clean water. If our fellow man can act as they do over their "wants" how might the act over "needs" if the resources for them are lacking?
I am not criticizing all of the people who went out shopping yesterday. I am not criticizing those who purchase electronic devices, or spend money on entertainment. I only desire to point out the danger of forfeiting even simple common respect for our fellow man for worship at the altar of materialism.
Pius XII wrote:
45. But the world, which today affords so many justifiable reasons for pride and hope, is also undergoing a terrible temptation to materialism which has been denounced by Our Predecessors and Ourselves on many occasions.
46. This materialism is not confined to that condemned philosophy which dictates the policies and economy of a large segment of mankind. It rages also in a love of money which creates ever greater havoc as modern enterprises expand, and which, unfortunately, determines many of the decisions which weigh heavy on the life of the people. It finds expression in the cult of the body, in excessive desire for comforts, and in flight from all the austerities of life. It encourages scorn for human life, even for life which is destroyed before seeing the light of day.
47. This materialism is present in the unrestrained search for pleasure, which flaunts itself shamelessly and tries, through reading matter and entertainments, to seduce souls which are still pure. It shows itself in lack of interest in one's brother, in selfishness which crushes him, in justice which deprives him of his rights -- in a word, in that concept of life which regulates everything exclusively in terms of material prosperity and earthly satisfactions.
48. "And I will say to my soul. the rich man said, Soul, thou hast many good things laid up for many years; take thy ease, eat, drink, be merry. But God said to him, Thou fool, this night do they demand thy soul of thee."
49. To a society which in its public life often contests the supreme rights of God, to a society which would gain the whole world at the expense of its own soul and thus hasten to its own destruction, the Virgin Mother has sent a cry of alarm.
This Advent, consider prayers and fasting against materialism as one way of preparing for Christmas.