Secularism, epitomized by an inordinate desire for money and possessions, blunts the desire for religion and spiritual things. For some, everything falls at the feet of the materialistic god.  Often, ritualized in television commercials, regular programming, and Internet blogs, it captivates our minds and hearts, especially the young. It demands the latest cell phone, tablet, clothes, automobile, and home.

The scope of its tentacles reaches into family and human relationships. When teaching a college religion class and discussing careers and family life, I asked, “After graduation, will you give top priority to your career or to your spouse and children?

The students were ambiguous. Most favored their family, but they struggled with this conclusion. Some adamantly opted for their careers. As one senior put it, “When I marry, I will first commit myself to my career, even if I am absent from my wife for large chunks of time. After I get established, I’ll develop a relationship with my wife.”  I responded, “After you get established in your career, your wife may no longer be around.”

Materialistic priorities affect all of us—our spiritual life, church attendance, and the growth of atheism.  It’s the greatest challenge to taking religion seriously today. In light of its pervasive influence, we ask:

  • What is our priority, our family or career and money? 
  • To what degree do money and material possessions dictate our daily and weekly priorities?
  • Does our family suffer spiritually because of our attitude toward job and income? 
  • How do secular things affect our faith?
  • Do we need to change some of our priorities?

A priest of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and a Professor of Pastoral and Systematic Theology at the Athenaeum of Ohio, Father Bob Hater is also Professor Emeritus at the University of Dayton. Order Fr. Hater’s new book, Common Sense Catechesis: Lessons from the Past, Road Map for the Future.