Economy of LifeHarmony: is the economy harmful, is work immoral?

Töprengések a bérmunkáról: a gazdaság káros, a munka erkölcstelen?

The message of the BOCS was already clearly seen in the 1980 TAB (Reflections on Wage Labour, other title Economy of LifeHarmony) study, which argued that the economy is often damaging – but that it does not address the most important needs. Hence, work is often unnecessary, even harmful, immoral – but valuable work is rarely valued by the economy. Work is often at odds with vocation and service. The Little Prince life strategy, non-material wealth, non-consumptive happiness, can help to free us from this predicament.

In the decades since 1980, it has been proven that the economy is built on the robbery of the poor, of wildlife and of future children. They are weak to defend themselves. The system is based on population explosion, slave production, force to reproduce, overproduction of living forces. The children who grow up are in a forced situation, they are cheap, superfluous, their bargaining power is weak, they have to fight overpopulated competition, to toil for their livelihood. Helping those without contraception is the most effective way to transform a devastating (and now self-destructing) economy.


I. Raising the Problem

1. The Catholic’s Official Attitude to Work in Earlier Times

1.1. Catholic Ethics 1930
1.2. Some Initial Questions

2. What Does the Gospel Say about Work?

3. What Do the Communities’ Writings from the Seventies Say about Work? Back to the Darkness?

II. Consideration of Reality

4. Fundamental Concepts

4.1. Two Systems of Production
4.2. Basic Needs in Order of Importance

5. Problems of the First System of Production

5.1. Hunger and Orgy
5.2. Destruction, Lying, Propaganda
5.3. Exploitation of the Future
5.4. The Physicists’ and the Workers’ Responsibility
5.5. “The Harvest Is Great But There Are Few Workers to Gather It in” (Matt 9,37)
5.6. The Non-institutionalized Creation of Independence
5.7. Summary of the First System of Production’s Character (see fig. 2.)

6. The Roots of the Problems

6.1. The Train of Thought of Revolutionaries
6.2. The Gulf Between Power and Morals
6.3. The Missing Hero

III. The Christian Call

7. Worldly? Lay? Civilian! (The Difference Between Priests and Laymen)

7.1. Harmony of Life
7.2. Taboos Which Cause the Absence of Heroes
7.3. Suggestions on How to Awaken a Call

8. The First System of Production: the Part It Plays in the Christian Call

8.1. The Correct Measure
8.2. Choice of Profession
8.3. Are Our Hands Clean?
8.4. Reaching Towards a More Humanitarian Direction
8.5. Towards Our Co-workers and Clients
8.6. Non-fixed Worktime, Independent Work-sphere

9. Preparing to Follow the Call

9.1. Its Importance
9.2. To Prepare for Harmony of Life
9.3. Choice of School
9.4. Positive Ethics

10. The Second System of Production

10.1. Why Do We Call It ‘System of Production’?
10.2. What is Necessary?
10.3. The Second System of Production: Three Important Areas

III. Consequences

11. To Be Poor, to Be Humble, to Be Unprotected

11.1. The Pivotal Question: Are We Brave Enough To Be Poor?
11.2. Poverty Is the Instrument to Save the World
11.3. The Spirit of Poverty
11.4. Basis for All Our Educational Powers: Self-sacrifice

I. Raising the Problem

1. The Catholic’s Official Attitude to Work in Earlier Times

1.1. Catholic Ethics 1930

The following paragraphs represent Dr. Antal Schütz’ thinking on this question. (His book, Catholic Ethics, was published by the St. Stephen Society – the main official Catholic publishing house in Hungary – in 1930.)

Work is duty because God calls upon us to be active (Genesis, John 5,17), our disposition is to wish to create. Life (nature) forces us to work, and work has its blessings (joy of creating, rest is only good after work, work is the origin of many virtues). Therefore people who do not need to work for their living have to find some activity: they may work at home or in the interest of public welfare. The privileged people have to work as a good example, to show that they respect work. It is a great satisfaction to people who must work for an income to see the privileged people working hard and voluntarily, even though they do not need to work for a living.

How should we work? We need to be conscientious in our work so that our lack of care does not cause mishaps or even catastrophes, and because we work in the presence of God and for Him. We should work as hard as we can, make the best use of our talents, and find joy in our work.

Every person should earn enough with honest work to provide for himself and his family. It is permissible, in fact praiseworthy, to earn more than is needed, to invest much time and energy in money-making. Because the wealthy man has less occasion to sin and because he is independent of money, he can affect public life more, broadcast his belief, increase his knowledge and thereby bring honour to the name ‘Catholic’, and lastly he can do much in the service of truth and love for his fellow men. Jesus does not disapprove of money-making, He only reminds us that in it there are dangers to ?The soul.

1.2. Some Initial Questions?

Does it not matter who the employer is and what work he gives us? Is our employer’s word, the voice of our pay, the same as God’s word?
– God asks us to be active, our nature inspires activity, and there are blessings in it. Is this activity the same as working for pay?
– Is it natural that some people need not work while others have no other choice?
– Could a question of conscience cause a man to leave a job if, for example, his work contributes to the destruction of nature?
– Are our talents the same as our productive capacity and our professional knowledge? Did Jesus neglect his own talents in this direction?
– Is it true that rich people have fewer opportunities to sin?
– Is it true that they can be more devoted to their convictions than poor people?
– Is it true that the wealthy can bring more honour to the name ‘Catholic’?
– Is it true that the privileged in particular can do much for truth and love?

2. What Does the Gospel Say about Work?

(The following paragraphs are quotations from the four-volume book “Seek the Kingdom of God!”‚ abbreviation KIO‚ by György Bulányi.)

We must not seek material gain. Material gain is the enemy of God. Genesis says that work is necessity and suffering, but Jesus promises us renewal; He promises us a different yoke, a yoke that is easy and useful‚ activity worthy of human beings. This renewal can happen in any kind of technical, scientific, or financial work. When Jesus speaks of work, He points out the difference between man’s toil for material resources and the work He, His Father and His disciples do for the Kingdom. (The KIO translates the ‘ergon’ Greek word-family into the following words “creation, to create”, and the ‘kopos’ Greek word-family into words such as “work, to work”. The KIO does so to avoid the confusion of ideas.)

Jesus prefers activity for eternal life to working for our daily bread. (“Do not…, instead…!” John 6,27) We may only be engaged for the Kingdom, we may only seek the Kingdom, this is the condition of renewal.
When man was created, he received two tasks: to take care of the earth and to love his fellow man. Instead, history is the story of man’s domination over the world and over people, all in the name of progress. Jesus calls this economic advance at the expense of love, Mammon. Mankind cannot blossom because of the myth of progress. Mankind could make real progress if it followed Jesus.

“Man cannot live by bread alone…”, man is a creature who has a need for God. Jesus wants to make it. His task to fulfill man’s need for God. When we feed the hungry we serve God, who is starving, in his need (Matt 25). But greed makes us unclean before God (Luke 12,15). We cannot serve two masters. If we want to love God, we must hate and despise Mammon, Money (Matt 6,24; Luke 16,13). On the day of reckoning, God will not ask us to give an account of our productive activity and of the work that duty calls us to do. The man who can only give an account of such activity is a fool. Doing our duty is not the same as growing rich in God’s sight (Luke 12,15-21); in fact, if it fills our lives it is an obstacle to growing rich in the eyes of God. We must not worry about status, food, drink, clothes, the future, our life. The trouble is lack of faith, and lack of trust. The Father gives us the necessities of life and the capacity to work. To worry about resources is like being a plant that is not content with photosynthesis, but wants to try to work for its livelihood. The condition for receiving the Father’s care is that we seek the Kingdom, then everything else we need will be added. If we seek material things only, like the savages, then there will be starvation. Trust and hope are incompatible with worry.
Science and production mainly serve those in power. Nationally as well as internationally, the distribution of resources and material wealth is unfair. The rich prepare arms to defend the status quo, the poor prepare arms to change it. Therefore work serves the privileged classes, it promotes the use of the military to support injustice, thereby also destroying its own achievements. So it cannot be sufficient for us merely to work, firstly because God has entrusted more to us, and secondly because more is needed to benefit mankind. If we do our daily work, we have not yet fulfilled our duty to serve. We must not believe the myth of progress that promises welfare and peace as a result of work and military preparation. If we are honest, we can not believe in the myth of progress, with which we formerly identified ourselves, after our historical sins have been revealed and the promises of progress have become obsolete. Work is our destiny, but not our vocation.

Work is neither giving nor taking; it is only a means of acquiring an income as individuals or as a group. What good will it be for me if I gain the whole world, yet forfeit my soul? Even if we cannot find pleasure in our work, we should nevertheless do it well; and earn only as much as is necessary to live on. Our work can become our vocation at least in part, if there are opportunities to serve and proclaim the gospel. (Our pay would be the same, whether we approach our work as a service or not.) Our task is giving, but we need not worry about how to obtain the means to give. We help the heavenly Father by distributing what He gives. Only those who decide to live according to the law of giving can reject the myth of progress!

3. What Do the Communities’ Writings from the Seventies Say about Work? Back to the Darkness?

(The following short quotes come from articles in the underground Catholic almanac series entitled ‘Christmas Present’.)
– Confusion of ideas: is creativity the same as paid work? We read; “building of the world”; “making the world more humane, more useful, more cultured”; “a task from God”; “the unfolding of our creative personality” etc. Many people tacitly identify these with paid work.

–  Confusion of ideas: is paid work the same as service? We read; “Work is service, too, although not in the same sense as Jesus spoke of it, because we get money for it.” Then we should not refer to both “work” and “service” as “service”. The word “service” is a catchword in our time: a minister is a servant of his people; the pope is the servant of God’s servants; and everybody does a service, from a soldier to a conductor. In the Bible, however, the word “service” is never used for paid work offering financial independence. (Dufour: Biblical Theological Dictionary, page 1131.) There are some spheres of work where a true service can be done, but it is important to see the difference between paid work and service in such a sphere, so that we can stress the element of service in it.

– Confusion of ideas: does our standard of living require eight hours of work a day? We read; “Work should not be an end in itself”; “greed should not be unlimited, uncontrolled”; “rank should not cause unfaithfulness to our convictions”; we should not be “money-grabbing” or “careerists”; “do not work overtime”; we should not work “all day long”, instead “only for our living”; “eight hours should be the limit”. Should we not rather consider, how much paid work our vocation permits us to do? There is a decisive difference between customary social goals and the life of a true Christian.

– Idealizing: is the outcome of our work “a message of love for other people”? Is a television set, for example, an unambiguous “message of love” Though it usually acts like a “drug in the center of the home”? (M‚rleg, 1980/3.) Or like a bottle of wine, which can “gladden men’s hearts” (Psalm 104,15), but which has often led to the frightful destruction of life? Can we consider work simply as “the production of ‘bonum practicum’“? The reality of work does not change when we use such beautiful words for it; it only changes when we draw a sharp distinction between the good and the bad elements in it.

– Superficial aesthitics: design of an atom bomb? “The product of man’s work, the arch of a bridge, a highway, a hotel, they are all beautiful.” That is true (although each one of us will probably have a different opinion about building highways among the mountains). But the beauty must not make us forget the more important questions: What is it good for? Why did we have to build and create so much? Who does it all serve?

If the Steelman (a pylon, as personified by Sándor Sík, a Hungarian poet, and Catholic monk) pondered what the energy carried through his cables is used for; if he realized that this energy operates electric chairs which destroy lives, runs movies which destroy souls; if he realized that it is wasted where people neglect to turn off millions of unneeded lights, and used by regular consumers to get their many machine-slaves to work and create comfort for them causing them to drift far away from God; if he realized that it makes the lives of many scandalously rich and so-called “great” people glitter and seem representative of society as a whole; if he realized that at the same time forests are being destroyed in a radius of a hundred kilometers around the undeveloped edges of towns, and that people even burn sundried manure (resulting in the deterioration of the soil ), because poverty is actually caused by the lack of energy; if he realized that he cannot direct the cables to those places where people really need the energy‚ then maybe he would break himself off from the delightful line of cables, and would rather try to shock people into more humane lifestyles (he would probably have more success in homes where there are candles instead of fluorescent lights, a broom instead of a vacuum cleaner), or he would go to the poor who might use him more profitably as scrap-iron than as a proud carrier of gleaming cables.

– Are petty bourgeois conventions the same as Christian morality? We read, “Work is a sure foundation for the growth of our souls.” This statement can be easily misunderstood. If the sons of Zebedee had thought along these lines, would they have left their nets? If Jesus came now, would only the loafers follow him?

“A sluggard is unworthy of the Kingdom of God.” Can we accept such a generalization? What about employment in the chemical industry which poisons nature to the point of destruction? What about employment in the ‘war-machine’? Would it have been better if Einstein or B‚la Hamvas (great Hungarian philosopher in the communist period) had not worked secretly, hiding their notes under the desk at work or in a drawer in the store?

“Our output should be praiseworthy.” This statement too can be easily misunderstood. Whose appreciation should we receive and for what? We cannot do any unchristian thing to receive the appreciation of non-Christians and to make them accept our witness better! “Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world…” (Romans 12,2)
The world’s scale of values with regard to work is often deformed. For instance, the world acclaims the accomplishments of leading sportsmen, although they are mostly useless. The world envies pushy people and those who profit by their position, but laugh at Michelangelo or threaten to give him the sack (in the ‘Falanster’ scene of ‘Tragedy of Man’ by Imre Madách, which shows a possible inhuman, mechanical society in the future) when they find him in the chairleg carving shop meditating about the face of Moses, wishing that his statue would inspire people to crave for the wisdom of God.

– Who will really profit by our work? One of the community writings quotes Attila József (a Hungarian proletarian poet): “Do not be rash! Other people profit by your work!” But this quote is used only to caution against “never-ending drudgery”, as if an average man, who works eight hours a day, were immune to the same injustice which hides in the reality of paid work.

– Do pleasure and ambition feed on paid work? True, it is important to “work joyfully”, and it is an important factor in the choice of profession, but maybe we could discover joy in the vocation we feel called to. “Service shall be my joy”, we pray in the Prayer of Faithfulness.

It is also true that “if our ambition dies in the sphere of paid work, it will adversely affect our whole character”. Ambition in the sphere of paid work, however, does not necessarily affect the rest of our lives. “Just one thing is needed” (Luke 10,42) If we are ambitious in this “one thing”, in our calling, it will surely shine in our whole life. If it cannot shine in our paid work as well, it will press on us until we find a suitable job, because this “one thing” cannot tolerate that we waste a considerable part of our lives. We should beware for fear that we compensate our defeats in the Kingdom by seeking professional successes.

– Confusion of ideas: are our talents the same as our professional capacities? Is “profiting by our talents” the same as paid work? Did not Jesus have talents to create scientific, economic or artistic work? Talent is usual capacity, like a seed-bud, it blossoms where man concentrates his energy a long time: in his vocation.

– Idealizing: is it true that “duty to ne’s status is the same as love”? Is it all the same, who gives me this duty, who employs me, which status I have chosen for myself? Even if I am forced into a status, I cannot do it withut thinking of the duties which come with this status (“I have done it under order!”).

– Confusion of ideas: is social justice the same as eight hours of work a day? “As much as we get from the common basket of society, that much we have to put back into it too.” This is true, but if we get out only a little, we should put in only a little too, not a full eight hours. “I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I am on my way to try them out. Your master probably does not want me to make a living by robbing or cheating, yet I can make it by hard work, with these five yoke of oxen. I do not intend to give up this life-standard only for an invitation, so please accept my apologies.” (Luke 14,19 with addition) On the other hand, people are watching us carefully lest we get more from the common basket than we put into it. If we “waste” our inherited privileges in our solidarity with the poor, and we ourselves do not use the different cunning kinds of violence, we will surely only be able to get less.

Therefore, what role does paid work play in the Christian calling, which comprehends the whole life?

II. The Consideration of Reality

4. Fundamental Concepts

4.1. Two Systems of Production

The complicated worldwide organization of the interaction between supply and solvent demand, we call ‘first system of production’ (1. sp.). This type of employment, designed for making money, is what we name ‘work’ in regular speech. To avoid the confusion of ideas we will speak about it as ‘paid work’.

In the ‘second system of production’ (2. sp.) insolvent human need meets helpfulness. This activity is service.
Why is this distinction important? The first system is our natural self-support, a (theoretically fair) ‘giving-receiving’, which fits into the division of labour settled in society. But the second system is unrequited giving. It is important to make a distinction between them, since we are susceptible to believing ourselves true Christians because of our fair paid work. However God is not satisfied with paid work, instead He calls us for service above all:

“When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors, for if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid; but when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke 14,12-14)

If certain conditions exist, the activity done at the paid work place in paid work time can be service too. For ‘insolvent’ need does not mean only that the claimant does not have enough money. It also may mean that the demand can not be paid for by money. (For instance, money can pay only for the outward duties that a nurse performs in the care of a patient, but the patient can’t get by money the nurse’s healing love – more than its appearance – which springs from her heart and which the patient truly needs for his recovery.)

Therefore the 2. sp. can appear in the 1. sp.’s workplaces and worktime, too, if the need, which is fulfilled by paid work, is firstly human, and secondly, cannot be paid for by money. When a worker puts into his paid work this priceless extra, without which his pay would not be any less, nor his duty unfulfilled, then he is partly doing true service within his paid work place and paid work time.

4.2. Basic Needs in Order of Importance

What is in the preceding definitions ‘human need’, as opposed to ‘consumer need’? Evidently we can not fulfil all kinds of needs by our work: we can not undertake a murder for pay, or fulfil a duty which serves an unnecessary luxury need.
In psychological literature we can find different lists of necessities. Now I use the simplest of them here, which has been defined by Jesus. It divides human necessities into two parts: the first part serves the bios’ needs, the second part serves the “dzoe’s” needs. (Both of these Greek words mean ‘life’.) A humanbeing lives by ‘bread’ and ‘the word of God’, namely he needs mortal and eternal values.

The connection between the two groups of needs is important. Jesus thinks the serving of others needs (hunger, nakedness, homelessness U) very important and makes it our task, while on the other hand He thinks that richness is a power which (logically) removes us from God. Thus according to mortal values the humanbeing can be either destitute, poor, or rich. It is right not to want to be destitute, but it is not right not to want to be poor, for the needs over and above honest poverty do a disservice to the other group of needs; the eternal values, the richness in God, the gladness of the humanbeing.

Therefore we can define the ‘human need’ as a group of needs for poverty in mortal values and for immense richness in God.



That is represented by the figure 1. The vertical, broken line separates the two groups of needs. The column of the right side of the broken line (the church tower, if we compare the figure to an outline of a church) ends in a pinnacle like an arrow, showing that a sound, humane person who is created in God’s image has a need for God, and this need is infinitely great. We divided the mortal values on the left side into two again: the need for material goods and information. This part of the church (a rectangle) represents that these types of need of a humane person are limited: they work as a foundation for the infinite blossoming in God. Accordingly, we call ‘consumer need’ the need for material goods and information which grows over and above honest poverty. The consumer need, the need for posessions, necessarily causes a disease on the need for God, because the one who loves and values material goods, then hates and despises God (cf. Luke 16,13).

The attribute ‘humane’ I used in the definition of the second point. In the sense of this explanation, the attribute ‘humane’ is key in that definition. “Fool, …are those who pile up riches for themselves but are not rich in God’s sight.” (Luke 12,20-21) “Happy are you poor!” (Luke 6,20)

5. Problems of the First System of Production

5.1. Hunger and Orgy

The hunger of the poor is not a solvent demand, nor does it attract labour. The share of agriculture from the whole produced value was reduced from 38-39% to 19-20% in both capitalist and socialist developed countries between 1950 and 1970 (M. Simai: Towards the third thousand years). The wealthy people cannot eat more, therefore labour centres on other spheres where there is a demand, (the consumer need of wealthy people) and therefore money, for instance in the airplane industry. If the wealthy can pay for travelling, and the poor can not pay for bread, then logically the airplane industry is more important, so it will be more likely developed. An even pithier example is the agriculture of undeveloped countries. It becomes a monoculture. It is of no value for big landowners to grow rice for the local poor population, therefore they grow coffee, for instance, for which the wealthy people of the world will pay a high price. In Java, the best rice-lands have given way to the spreading coffee-plantations. This is how the people’s traditional food-production foundations dissolve (T. Csupor: The paradoxes of nutrition). This is how our luxury need becomes more important than the poor people’s necessities for life. This is how our life style causes the suffering of poor people. But we have the possibility not to take part in this. For example: not buying coffee (unless it is necessary for a health reason), but rather sending the saved money to the hungry, so their hunger shall become a solvent demand. Generally: to give, to put our strength into the 2. sp., instead of the 1. sp.

We can realize also in other spheres of the 1. sp., that the wealthy people’s consumer needs are more important than the poor people’s necessities for life. For instance, scientific research serves the interests of the privileged, making the poor even more defenceless. “For the most part research has been done in the developed countries, and is financed by their governments, foundations, universities and industrial companies. It would be absurd to suppose that, in their research and development, they do not look after their own interests… The developed countries’ technological advancement tends to make the poor countries’ commercial situation continually go from bad to worse.” (Gunnar Myrdal: The Challenge of Our Time: World-wide Poverty) It is a myth that scientific advancement will end world-wide need. It only makes the wealthy stronger. In Myrdal’s explanation, there is also evidence that it is not enough to refuse buying those products of poor countries which were produced in a monoculture; that in itself may make them more disadvantaged. The 2. sp is what really helps, and that is what the refusal of consumerism guarantees resources for.

One more home example: while lots of people struggle with the fundamental difficulties of homelessness; weekend-houses and public buildings have been built quickly and with luxury quality for the privileged (F. Kozma: Welfare on the Socialist Way).

On the sphere of intellectual values, we call ‘noise’ the information which is ultimately not needed by the person who gets it. These ‘informative noises’ are damaging, because they squeeze out or leave unnoticed the really important information, fill the people’s minds with ‘plaster mush’. Just think how much we know about distant countries’ so-called ‘high’-politics, while we do not get any information about, for instance, our own town’s problems with environmental protection or urban-development, or about the discussions of the experts. How many people study technology and economics books in the colleges, (often while holding a job, and raising a family whom they may neglect because of studies) but have never read a book about educating children or themselves. How much time do they spend dazedly watching the television’s deluge of information, when a conversation with their spouse or friends would be much more worthwhile. In the 1. sp. many people are employed in making ‘noise’.

Summarized: in the 1. sp. the privileged people’s (consumer) needs are the determining factor rather than poor people’s necessities for life.

The work in the 1. sp. cannot summarily be called useful “building” work, the making of “bonum practicum”. In the 1. sp. these three activities go on to an unbelievable degree:

Destruction, and senselessness: weaponry, military exercises, because of group interests which are against the interests of mankind; scheming, hindering each other’s work, waste, production of throw away merchandise, the ruthless use of the common resources and tools can become a paid job, work of controlling apparatuses and security forces; which are supported by peoples’ selfishness and unpeacefulness.

Lying, and misinformation: false advertisement, and irrespondible elements in the media and education.
Propaganda: ideologies which are against the Good News.

5.2. Destruction, Lying, Propaganda

Why did we make two categories? What is the difference between ‘Lying’ and ‘Propaganda’?
‘Lying’ represents every type of misinformation which makes exploitation possible. Misinformation influences and controls people by deceit; and in the hands of secular or religious ideologues, media-producers nad spokespersons, misinformation can be used to sanction existing regimes of political, economic, religious, or other forms, of power. For example, a Roman emperor supports a religious organization which justifies slavery as an institution ordered by the gods; and which influences the slaves.
Propaganda does not begin with material interest. In the previous example, the emperor and the religious organization both profited by the oppressed condition of slaves, but let us see an example of a propaganda-machine; a statue of the emperor which is placed in every town and the people are forced (by reward or punishment) to adore that statue (namely the emperor). The emperor does not support this propaganda machine only for material interest; but rather out of personal vanity, prestige, longing to be great, and as a means of controlling his subjects.

5.3. Exploitation of the Future

During the second half of the 20th century, the production and consumerism of developed nations have been growing to such an absurd degree that they hang menacingly over the future of human beings.

The world we leave to our children and grandchildren is irreversibly sullied and destroyed, is unsalvagably exploited and bled white, it is uncontrollably dangerous.

We live in an addicted civilization: In the interest of our mindless consumerism, we eat and destroy our own descendants’ life necessities, like alcoholic parents, who drink away even the cost of bread as prisoners of their addiction, while their children are starving.

(In 1980, these statements seemed unbelievable exaggerations in Hungary. Therefore this article – wanting to support them – quoted other writings which were available in Hungarian. Now we leave them, for these sentences are not unbelievable anymore, with due appreciation to our brothers who made known the book entitled Small is Beautiful by E. F. Schumacher among the communities, and who already in 1977 translated the Concilium and other valuable writings, including the Mérleg (Balance) which in 1979 and 1980 published book reviews with such titles among others: Will We Survive the Future?; The Necessity of Recreating our Civilization; Are We Going Towards a World-wide Ascetic Culture?)

The problem of the future’s exploitation does not mean only the damages caused by arming, nor only the damages caused by the recklessness and waste of production. Instead, it means that even the most ideal producion destroys the earth if it caters to foolish, sinful consumerism.

“The Earth could grant everyone what they need, but it can not fulfil their greed!” (Gandhi)

5.4. The Physicists’ and the Workers’ Responsibility

The throwing of the first atom bomb revealed with a terrible power the importance of the scientists’ and physicists’ responsibility: at whose disposal will they place their fearsome knwledge? Maybe Dürrenmatt’s drama entitled The Physicists shows it most clearly: “Our science has become terrifying, our research has become dangerous, our knowledge has become deadly. We physicists have only one possibility: … we have to get back our knowledge!”

Since this time, the responsibility has widened out: not only do the scientists have it, but every person who pushes the same economic-scientific-technological process (I purposely do not write progress or advancement!) by his small daily work. The scientists push this self-demolition process in huge steps, the workers in small steps. But the workers are far more numerous, so this process can end in a catastrophe even without a war.

“The undoubting trust (which had existed since the renaissance) in a science which makes us the ruler and owner of nature, has now become questionable. Mainly following 1968, the destruction of nature’s energy sources, the estrangement and manipulation of man, the environment’s pollution which causes death, and the illusions of blind faith in progress which make us slaves became obvious! This scientific-technological-economic process cannot be the sensible purpose of our life and history!” (Roger Garaudy: The “basis” in Marxism and in Christianity, Concilium, 1975, number 4.)
“There was no other society before which propagated to such a degree its own productions’ importance. On the other hand, there was no other society before, which to such a degree destroyed the biological balance of the Earth, exploited the mineral resources of the Earth, sullied its continents and seas with dirt and damage, non degradable derivatives, which mankind will probably never be able to get rid of.” (Hubert Lepargneur: The critical function of the church as opposed to the death ordered by the society, Concilium, 1974, number 4.)

Sorry to say, the physicists’ freedom in decision is not more than – in a fortunate case – deciding which power they want to serve. For the research of today requires many special tools and investments, and so much money that it can be financed only by one of the powers. It is also no solution for the physicist to get back his knowledge, for “every unknown thing will be found out sooner or later!” (Dürrenmatt, Epilogue, point 19)

The workers’ freedom in decision is even less. “The basis is what produces the richness by its work; however, it can determine neither the reason for production, nor the organization of the work, nor the division of the profit.” (Roger Garaudy, ibid)
Before we look for a solution through Christian faith, let us see the fourth large problem of the 1. sp.

5.5. “The Harvest Is Great But There Are Few Workers to Gather It in” (Mt 9,37)

Who’s duty is it to fulfil people’s hunger for God in the 1. sp.? To be able to answer, we should look through the forms in which the need for God appears in as a solvent demand. As example, five such forms are listed here:
a) The need of mentally sick people for services which cure and preserve the health of soul (ie. psychologist).
b) The need of anguished people for insurance of eternal life (ie. church tax, price of sacrament-administering).
c) Parents who want help in their task to educate and who look for teachers able to offer more than mere instruction (ie. religious education, schools which have a reputable teaching staff in demand).
d) Christians’ donations for mission make a missionable territory’s need for God (which is insolvent in itself) solvent.
e) Christians support financially (make independent) certain persons (ie. priests), so they would then be mediators to God for them (preaching, sacraments, taking care of souls, creating communities etc.). We will return later to the problems of making somebody independent.

Let us look through the insolvent needs for God.
x) The poor’s need, who do not have money even for bread.
y) The wealthy’s need, whose master is Mammon, which they will not give up easily for just anything. First we have to make them learn about God at no charge (many times they do not want it even free).
z) The realists’ need, who know that if somebody is willing to preach the Good News for pay, their message is not worth much.
The solvent need for God, from paid people, is mostly not serious at all. They care for this need so little that it does not disturb the production and consumerism in their lives, which are arranged far away from God. They do not want the psychologist to make them human beings who know how to love. They want him to make them winners in a competitive society and thus able to enjoy life.
Most of the people who pay church tax (in addition to the other kinds of insurance, household, car etc. which cost much more than the church tax), as a payment for ‘insurance for eternal life’ or (in addition to the monthly lottery) as a payment in a game of chance (making a mockery of Pascal’s thought: “In case God exists, we will come off well”) do not want God to be the lord of their life, merely they want to reassure their conscience, to buy off God, who might exist.

Most of the parents, who – as it is well-known – like to substitute personal care with material gifts for their child(ren), do not seriously wish for their child the knowledge of God when they send him to religious education. (For if they thought it important, they would need God for themselves, too, and then they themselves could give religious education to their child.) Instead, they buy some hour-long educating personality for him, in place of their personal care. Other parents expect religious education to give their child – whom his selfish parents (maybe not even consciously) educated to be selfish by their example – a moral impression which would cause him to be respectful towards them and to take care of them when they are old (but nonetheless be a hard fighter in competitive society). They expect the same from a good educator (supposing that they expect something above instruction).

On the side of the paid people (psychologist, teacher, priest, generally: the educating staff) the real service in the need for God is problematic, too. One of the large temptations is not to serve the real progress of soul, but to give the people what they expect. This is how education becomes mere instruction, psychology becomes a setting free from conscience, a personage becomes a center of cult, a boutique of sacraments, Christianity becomes a religion which is laced with material and political interests.

The other large temptation of the paid educating staff is hypocrisy. If they get enough money, they will produce the outward manifestations of education, but it will not come from true, self-sacrificing love. How many priests would be devoted pastors of souls if they had to support themselves by regular work? Hypocrisy was a widespread disease among Israel’s educators, the Pharisees: they did their duty as the raising of their prestige and income demanded, they prayed long ostensibly, gave to the poor publicly, swaggered in the teaching chair of Moses, arranged huge ceremonies and public duties, and made the people finance their hocus-pocus.

In summary, the people the 1. sp. pays (at least theoretically) to raise people toward God (or in the wording of an unbeliever: toward love, humanity’s common life), have to face what the 1. sp. places before them: the demands of the clients who pay them; the demands of the ruling staff which pays them; and the temptation to hypocrisy.
How many people can lace their daily duty with service; a service without which their income would not be less, in fact because of which their income would definitely be less, and their troubles and burdens greater?

How many missionaries were brave enough to contrast the colonizers, who hired them, with the Gospel and suffer the probable consequence of being labeled heretic, and possibly killed? And how many of them have been canonized for it? How many priests will be brave enough to show their success-seeking audience in the temple the main point of God (supposing that they were made to seek this point) if they do not want to “become a sign of contradiction” in the sight of the people who are financially supporting them? (An experience of a Brazilian missionary: “The rich people who go to the church are indignant with the way a priest dares to intervene in social and political questions! They do not pay church tax, saying: ‘These inciting priests will come to us if they get short shrift, and will promise to be good, then we shall pay again!’“) (A home case: “Parish father, why do you not buy a car? Do not put us in shame. If you want it, just tell us, we will pay for it!” What priest undertakes to make the consciences of the people who support him uneasy by his clothing, food, furnishings, going by bicycle, by train, by bus? Because “do not put us in shame” actually means: “Do not make our conscience uneasy! You should live in overabundance too, let us believe that God likes this!”)

In case of d) and e), there is an additional problem which makes the giving of true Christianity more difficult for those who do it for pay. One of the main points of Christianity is that we all serve the needy, expecting no reward, but how can a paid educator teach the service which expects no reward? If he asks somebody to do something, that person may think to himself: “I will do it if I also get paid for it!” How could a priest share the tasks and the responsibility with his basis people, if the people think to themselves: “Are we paying him just so he will make us do the tasks?” If a priest tries to educate the believers to be grown-up, professional Christians, a “holy priesthood” (1Peter 2,5), he will experience his own financial independence as a stumbling block. But who will give up his material privileges?

In sum, I want to stress this statement: to serve the people’s need for God and to build the Kingdom, which Christ entrusted us to do, are quite problematic tasks within the 1. Sp., that is to say, through labor attracted by solvent demand.

5.6. The Non-institutionalized Creation of Independence

To backtrack slightly, I would like to outline briefly how the problems of financially supporting educators can be warded off in certain circumstances. It seems there are three conditions:

– The person who is paid depends on the expectations of the people who pay him. Therefore, the pay can be accepted only from those people whose motives or purposes one can identify himself with. The ‘believers’ can not financially support the priest, because the priest’s very profession is to purify the people’s outlook who go into his church, to turn them towards God (conversion). However, a priest can be supported for instance, by a group of priests in which the members earn a living by regular work, relieveing each other alternately; or by a community in which the priest is a member but not the leader.

– To reduce the danger of hypocrisy as much as possible, the people who support him should know him well and help him on the right way by praise and reproof, day by day. This is possible only in a small community.

– The pay he gets must not be the equivalent to his educating work, but rather for the assurance of his living, which sets him free to do service which does not expect reward. From this evolve two consequences: 1) He who “works better” cannot get more money for his work from the community. (The surplice-fee depends on how many sacraments a priest administers. It does not make anybody interested in the quality of the work.) 2) The ‘pay’ cannot be more than just necessary for covering the priest’s (or in case of a layman: the family’s) living in honest poverty. These two rules, in the sight of an economist from the world, produce complete disinterest. However, we have seen before that we cannot count on the pushing power of money in this case. If somebody does not have enthusiasm caused by the Spirit, he will not be able to build the Kingdom anyhow. A true Christian does his service with all of his heart and Spirit, whether in addition to his regular work or while being supported by a community. It is enough guarantee against “idleness in a job without demands” (which is not rare in the current practice of financial independence) that the community will stop supporting right away when the weighty reason for independence stops.

I would like to represent the traits of non-institutionalized support by some quotations from the Didache, an early Christian teaching:
“However, not every man who speaks in the Spirit is a prophet, but only if he has the manner of the Lord. Thus the false and the true prophet shall be known by their manner of life. … Further, every prophet who teaches the truth is a false prophet if he does not do what he teaches.” (XI. 8, 10)

“Every apostle visiting you shall be received as the Lord. He should stay only one day and if it is necessary a second day also. If he stays for three days, he is a false prophet. When the apostle leaves he shall not accept anything except bread for the time until he reaches his next night’s lodging. But if he asks for money he is a false prophet.” (XI. 4-6)
“Anyone who comes in the name of the Lord shall be received. You will then test him and you will know him, for you will have the understanding to decide between right and left.” (XII. 1)

“Elect for yourselves overseers and servants worthy of the Lord, men of gentle disposition who are free of the love of money, honest and tried, for they are those who, in serving you, render you the service of the prophets and teachers.” (XV. 1)
“Every true prophet who wishes to settle among you is worthy of his food. Likewise, a true teacher is just as worthy of his food as a laborer. Therefore always take the firstfruits of the produce of winepress and threshing floor, of cattle and sheep, and give these firstfruits to the prophets. If however you have no prophet, give them to the poor.” (XII. 2-4)

5.7. Summary of the First System of Production’s Character (see figure 2.)

We characterize the 1. sp. by drawing on the figure 1., in the illustration of a man’s justified needs as a main network. The sphere bordered by the thick curved line represents the needs which the 1. sp. fulfills.



Figure 2 The individual production system

It pertly fulfills the man’s justified material needs (M: Material needs), and it partly does not (S: Starving). It partly fulfills man’s justified informative needs (T: Teaching) and it partly does not (I: Illiteracy). But it fulfils consumer needs on the sphere of materials

(C: Consumerism), and on the sphere of information (N: informative Noise).
These expressions, such as Starving and Illiteracy, are symbolic, they have wide meaning. For instance, Illiteracy does not mean only the lack of knowledge of how to read and write, but the lack of a known material (this is different in different cultures) that is necessary for a life which is worthily human.

The way the S, M, T, I, C, N spheres are drawn, is explained by point 5.1.
The spheres of D (Destruction), L (Lying), P (Propaganda) spread under the horizontal line (it represents that they are definitely negative). These activities do not fulfil, but destroy the needs for materials, information and God. Point 5.2. spoke about them.
Finally the sphere E (Education) represents the answer of the 1. sp. for the solvent needs for God (listed in point 5.5.), and the sphere G (hunger for God) represents the insolvent needs for God (listed in the same place).

The spheres of E and P do not really belong in the 1. sp., for money does not have real power from the right of the vertical line, it can cause only outward manifestations. On the sphere of P people take part, for instance, in the celebration of worshipping the emperor, but it is only the outside, hypocrisy caused by interest or fear. This, taken to refer to the sphere E is explained in the point 5.5. As money is the motivation behind, worship of the emperor and routine sacraments are weak and formal. The sphere E (and the sphere G) can be filled with content, power, sincerity only by helpfulness, which experts no reward (goodness, commitment, enthusiasm), namely the 2. sp. While the sphere P can be filled with content by a kind of third system of productivity, in which the intention of evil and destruction is looking for the weak points of man. Thus the Snake’s action with that apple also can be generalized as a system of productivity, but we do not study it in this article.

6. The Roots of the Problems

6.1. The Train of Thought of Revolutionaries (Ruling is no solution)

“Five people can produce bread for a thousand. One worker can supply 250 people with cotton, 300 people with wool material, a thousand people with shoes. In such circumstances, we should believe that the man of this age lives incomparably better and more carefree than his ancestors, but in contrast to this, what do we see?…” (These percentages from before the World Wars have been multiplied in consequence of the progress of engineering. On the other hand, the destitution has become much more dreadful than is written by Jack London about America in the beginning of this century.)

“Everything is available, all that is necessary is the right direction… Who is to blame? The capitalistic class, which always boasts of its economic expertise and organizational ability. The dictators of our economic life run the productivity not only selfishly, but with sinful neglectfulness! …You have demonstrated that you cannot be trusted with leading society. Therefore we will take it out of your hands!” (Jack London: The Iron Hoof – 1944)

Disregard now that the ideal man, which was the basis for the revolutions, is considerably different from the ideal drawn by Jesus. The following sentence of Jesus: “You can not serve God and Mammon” radically opposes using political, violent means to build a just society. A solution of power cannot use other tools, only money and domination to carry out its purposes. These tools, however, cannot serve purposes which are different from their inner laws. On the contrary, money and power force into their own service the people who choose them as tools.

6.2. The Gulf Between Power and Morals

“Let me remind you of one of the laws in mankind’s history which is about the relationship between intellectual values and material-economic values. In this relationship, the intellectual values are outstandingly primacy… This primary is the foundation of a just peace… and it guarantees that the material-technological progress of civilization is serving what man is created for.
… In the last century this civilization helped the progress of material resources drastically more than in any time before, while helping to develop many behaviours by which people’s sensitivity to the spiritual dimension of man’s existence decreased. It is a result of such propositions which reduce the meaning of man’s life to material-economic factors, the requirements of productivity, marketing, consuming, stockpiling, and the bureaucracy which tries to control all of these.” (II. John Paul pope)

Thus the root of the problem is that man has tremendous power in the sphere of science and economy, but the ethical progress has lagged far behind the level necessary to correctly use this power. The gulf between the scientific-economic state of development and the ethical state of undevelopment hides horrible risks in itself. The development of civilization urgently demands the development of morals, but then why does mankind not grow in humanity?

6.3. The Missing Hero

In the world’s system of productivity, the 1. sp. serves a type of person with deformed needs, and forms the new generations likewise into such a type of person. At the same time, the deformed person, with his deformed needs and demands, supports and “develops” a more deformed world as in the 1. sp. The deformed world reproduces deformed persons, and deformed persons reproduce a deformed world.

Many people realize that the root of problems is the gulf between power and morals. For instance, it is a natural conclusion, that if the youth is decaying fearfully, the number of lessons on subjects connected with world-view and education should be increased. Yet this will still not be a solution; not only because basically false world-views cannot educate people with a healthy soul, but also because even Christianity itself cannot carry it out, where it has become an ideology of power. Staying within the 1. sp., it is hardly possible for mankind to grow in the dimension of spirit, community, and love (cf. point of 5.5.).

If this is “hardly” valid for people who work in the sphere E, then how much can a producing-consuming person serve this growing in love, who has no chance, no time, no strength to discover, consider, tell the Truth; whose character is not an example, whose life is not charismatic? (For the replacement of personal values happens mostly by identification with, or attraction to a magnificent personality!) A person who is deformed in the 1. sp. is far from lifting others up, he himself loses God (or does not find Him at all), he has no true friends (only pals and colleagues), he damages his marriage (or cannot even create a good marriage), he spoils his children, his mental life becomes empty (has tunnel vision); he is unhappy or insensitive emotionally.

As we can see in the figure 2., while we stay inside the 1. sp. we can only increase the gulf between power and morals, although “the Catholic church and the whole of Christianity find their specific task in discontinuing this gulf” (II. John Paul pope, ibid.). Thus we should develop the 2. sp. among us, which can efficiently serve the fulfillment of Starvation, Illiteracy, Hunger for God. The Christians hold in their hands the key to the secret, the solution: we should continue our Master’s service which He has entrusted to us, so that people “might have life, life in all its fullness” (John 10,10).

Why is there so much destitution, either in peace or in war? Because, excepting a few heroes and saints, the Christians have not recognized their specific vocation for a long time, instead they have been working within the 1. sp. with vocational zeal. Even today “in such an hour when the lightest brains of the scientists publish serious considerations about the gulfs and deadlocks of the contemporary technological ‘progress’, the big choir of Catholics is satisfied with saying repeatedly [the biased myth which, using for example Chardin’s sentences, confirms work and ‘progress’, and, S. Gy.] the idyllic version of Gaudium et Spes’ reconciliation with the world! … We would expect the church as guard of history’s eschatological dimension to have more foresight and sense of the future!” (H. Lapargnaur)

The main reason for this tragic blindness is that very few people (even apart from the Christians) can recognise the true way to heal the world, which may be that, as Christ worked on the world’s salvation as an unpaid wandering teacher harassed by hate and persecution, so in the same way, the healers of the world (the workers of the 2. sp., whether they are Christians or not), who walk in His footsteps, have the same destiny.

E. Hankiss (a Hungarian sociologist) in his book entitled Societal traps writes about “traps” where everybody comes to grief because of the selfishness of individuals. Yet it is worth it for the individuals who are selfish, because in this way they do not come to as much grief. On the other hand, if most individuals chose selflessness, everybody could come off well. The root of the world’s general crisis, which is growing from bad to worse: the heroes are absent!

The grape is so small a fruit,
Yet it needs a summer to ripen.
The earth is a fruit, too, a large fruit,
And if the little grape needs a summer,
How many summers this large fruit would need…

The grape ripens by sunbeams…
Beams likewise ripen the earth, but
These are not beams of the sun, but spirits of people.
Every great spirit is such a beam, but
only the great spirit…”

(Petőfi: The Apostle, paraphrased translation)

III) The Christian vocation

7.) Secular? Lay? Civil!

7.1 Harmony of life

We must first of all live a life rich in God for ourselves, so that we can help others to do the same. It is a beautiful manifestation of the intelligence of Creation that the way of life that is most fulfilling and happy for the individual is also the most beneficial for the community, for humanity, and the most good for others.
This God-rich life, which is therefore the best way both for the happiness of the individual and for the service of others, to which God created and calls us, is called the harmony of life. The following schema gives a sense of its structure:

– Spiritual life (God is the source and impetus of our existence: prayer, evangelism, silence, self-education…)
– Spiritual life (“truth sets us free”: wisdom, education, knowledge…)
– Community life (“love one another”: friendship, small community, large community, ecumenism, cooperation…)
– Family life (love, careful upbringing, parents…)
– Apostleship (“You are the light of the world!”: witnessing, community building…)
– Helping, giving (“You did it for me!”: time, money, personal…)
– Living in nature (self-support, earning money, housekeeping, physical education, rest…)7.2. The taboos that cause the lack of heroes

What was pointed out in point 6.3 as a Christian vocation is often recognised by priests, male and female monks, and it is obvious to the pious faithful that these “ecclesiastical” people are not (in principle) freeloaders, that their occupation is not useless, but on the contrary, that they perform a service which can be far superior in importance to secular occupations. (This is well illustrated by the fact that of the secular professions, only medicine and teaching have the colloquial status of “vocation”.) But what is the reason why 999 thousandths of Christians, the ‘secular’, do not generally recognise this vocation?

The very use of the word is very wrong. ‘Secular’ – especially as a counterpart to ‘ecclesiastical’ – suggests worldliness. The primary meaning of ‘laikus’, although simply derived from the Greek word ‘people’, is in Hungarian: incompetent. Let us use the word ‘civil’ for non-clerics. Its connotation ‘non-militant’ is very good for Christianity, which is intertwined with power.
To uncover the taboos that stifle vocations, let us look at the four – independent – dimensions of the realisation of vocation:
– material situation: independent or self-sustaining (and family);
– role basis: actual service or appointment;
– nature of the role: specific task or all-embracing position;
– marital status: family or celibate.

The two poles of marital status and financial situation speak for themselves, but let us see an example of the two bases and two types of role.
The basis of the role is appointment, for example, in the case of a priest who is appointed from above as a leader for the faithful of an area, regardless of what he is qualified for and what he actually does, and regardless of who actually needs him and in what functions. In contrast, actual ministry is the basis of a small-community leadership role that exists only as long as there are those who actually do it and those who actually need it from him.
The nature of the role is that of an ‘all-roles position’, for example, in the case of a priest, without whose direction nothing can happen in the field (because it is considered a sectarianism). In contrast, there is a specific task role for, say, a ‘little angel’ who manages the camp equipment of a community group.

According to these four dimensions, there are four common taboos:
– First, in the popular consciousness of the mass churches today, Christian ministry is the work of the unaffiliated. This can be understood from point 5.5, since if the church pays someone for their ‘ministry’ (which is in fact now paid work), it stifles the germs of unpaid ministry in others.
– Secondly, they believe that ministry is the work of the appointed and that appointment is essential to it.
– Thirdly, they often regard as a vocation only the all-embracing priestly profession, which over time has absorbed almost all Christian tasks, in theory, since in practice this is impossible.
– Fourthly, in the public mind of Roman Catholics, the concept of the Christian vocation is also closely linked to a non-family life, which implies passivity on the part of the great majority (of those with families). This stems from the structural sin of allowing only celibates into church leadership.

7.3 . Proposals for vocational training

How can we ensure that the appointment is awarded on the basis of actual service, i.e. to close the gap between the two bases of the role? Either by becoming the true spiritual parent of the faithful in his territory (cf. “Through the gospel I have given you life in Christ” 1 Cor 4,15); or by rising from within, through his service accepted by the community, to become its leader (cf. “By the laying on of hands choose for yourselves bishops and deacons worthy to be called by the Lord…” Didache XV.1). But this is only possible in parishes of much smaller size than those of today, i.e. when the leaders of a few small parishes form a nourishing small parish and its (actual, not supremely appointed) leader is ordained priest. Then some of these priests form a small community of a deeper level, the (actual!) leader of which must be ordained bishop (by the community and the bishops of the surrounding communities, cf. Schillebeeckx, The Christian Community and its Officers, Concilium, March 1980).
Let me draw your attention to the seemingly small term used here: ‘deeper level’. Jesus impressed upon our minds that leadership among his people could not even remotely resemble worldly power structures (cf. Mt 20:25-27). Therefore, we do not even use the ascending pyramid to represent “leadership” communities, as we usually use to represent corporate organizations or church hierarchies. Rather, the relationship between communities can be likened to a bush with older and stronger branches underneath, holding and nurturing the newer shoots that have grown upwards from themselves. The functions of the lower, strong branches (‘leader’ communities) are thus to grow, carry and nourish fresh shoots (with nourishment ‘from the roots’), and also to transmit other kinds of nourishment (assimilated in the leaves) between the parts of the bush, i.e. a two-way chain of information, the incessant re-establishment of unity against the whims of individualism, the coordination of cooperation.
This change of scale would of course require many more priests and bishops than at present: a thousand faithful would thus need about a hundred community leaders, ten priests and one bishop. But if celibacy were lifted, there would be someone to ordain. After all, where life is flourishing, where there are communities, there are already so many leaders, but they are not ordained.
This is a very important phenomenon. It shows the loosening of the second taboo, which reached as far back as the Second Vatican Council: ‘Christ himself gave the apostolic vocation to his lay faithful.’ (AA 3.) Until the ecclesiastical-institutional order of ordination and appointment is restored, Christians living their vocation must be encouraged to discover in their hearts the ordination and appointment already received from Christ and recognised by their community. At the same time, the restoration of this order should be encouraged, because the constructive power of the ministerial role needs to be widely accepted if it is to be fulfilled.
A very beautiful example of the harmony of the two directions is the inclusion of St Paul in the collegial unity:
– on the one hand, the mission is given by Christ alone in the interior of the soul: “Do I want to please men? … The gospel I preach does not come from men, nor have I been taught it … When he called me by his grace…, I did not seek counsel from flesh and blood. Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who had become apostles before me… After three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas, and stayed with him for fifteen days. But of the apostles I saw none but James…” (Gal 1:10-19);

– on the other hand, it is important to be included in the collegial unit: ‘Fourteen years later I went up to Jerusalem again… I went again to Jerusalem, and presented the gospel which I preached to them, and I presented it to the authorities, so that I might not labor in vain, and so that my efforts might not be in vain. Nor was Titus, who was with me, forced to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek, for the sake of the false brothers who had come among us, who had only come in among us … to make me a servant…” (Authoritarians cannot rule, nor can they diminish Christian liberty!) And the persons in authority did not oblige me in any way. On the contrary, they acknowledged that the gospel of uncircumcision was entrusted to me, just as the gospel of circumcision was entrusted to Peter.” (They also acknowledged the difference!) “For he who gave Peter power for apostleship among the circumcised, gave me power for ministry among the Gentiles.” (The converts are the apostle’s credentials, i.e., the established community by their very existence consecrates him to be an apostle, cf. 2 Cor 3:2-3) “And when James and Cephas and John, who are called pillars, recognized the grace given to me, they gave their hands in agreement to me and to Barnabas, that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised.” (No human recognition is required, only recognition, which is the duty of those in authority.) “They only asked that we remember the poor.” (They did not demand dogma – but a commitment to love!) (Gal 2:1-14).
Where there are not so many community-building and nurturing leaders, where there are not yet communities, the few professional Christians (even the priest himself) must begin
– renouncing institutional independence, in a self-sustaining way of life and
– personal and small-community concentration
to cultivate vocations. He may have only half the time and only a tenth of the number of people he will be able to deal with, but he will achieve ten times as much, because he can raise up professional Christians not only from celibate boys (who make up less than a thousandth of the youth) but from many, and they will not expect independence to be necessary to get involved.
This last is the decisive result, because the Christian vocation can be effectively realized and transmitted in a state of self (and family) sustenance (or at most in a state of non-institutionalized independence as described in 5.6).
In summary, let’s go beyond the four taboos:
– The taboo of independence: that is, the Christian vocation involves a minimum level of self-preservation: nothing more, nothing less.
– The taboo of appointment: i.e. to serve independently of appointment, on the basis of a call directly from God, and to welcome those in “authority” as actual community builders.
– The taboo of the “single vocation”: i.e. there are a thousand specific tasks in the community, and correspondingly a thousand different talents, charisms, from God.
– On the taboo of celibacy: i.e., family and celibate are called to the same full Christianity and everyone is to be valued according to their service, not their status, in the community.


8) The role of the 1st trs. in the Christian vocation

8.1 The right measure


The world does not need to be given material and information treasures!!
If the Man of Steel stands out from the ranks of those who hold the wires, he need not worry about the consumers. In a jiffy, another power pole will be put in its place. And the Man of Steel need not worry that a simple light pole will not carry the wires on its shoulders with such love. After all, the electricity he carried with love would just as soon not reach the poor and be wasted on the hands of the rich as electricity carried by machine. There is unemployment all over the world. In the gigantic scientific, economic processes, no disruption is caused by a handful of Christ-followers switching to other ministries.
In case anyone is worried about what will happen to our daily bread if millions of Christians realize their vocation and will therefore ignore the 1st trs, think about it: if there are hundreds of millions of holy heroes, they will heal the world, and the 1st trs. F, T, R, H, P will disappear, there will be no Hunger and Illiteracy, and people will find the God of Love … and then the distinction between the two systems of production and this whole study will become obsolete … This study aims precisely to have its findings invalidated one day by the healing of the world.
At present, the world is in a tight spot, like a drawer that has been pulled out of one side. Although pulling the drawer outwards is apparently useful from the point of view of pulling it out, on reflection it becomes clear that pulling the pulled side outwards only increases the tightness. The other side must be pulled to straighten the drawer. The gap between forces and morality is only widened and thus the problems are only exacerbated by any work that promotes scientific-economic growth.
Working in R, H, P, F, T areas is absolutely harmful. To work in areas K and O: to keep pulling on the jerky side of the drawer. To work in the N area is to “muffle” and educate in a mixed, “cryptic” way, with little preface of example. The ecclesiastical position, institutionalised independence, can also be classified here.
The world desperately needs our service (tr. 2). More than anything else, it is a necessity of existence for humanity, for it is in danger of its life. And since there are very few who are able and willing to work in trs 2, it is indeed a crying folly for them to pour their energies into trs 1.
The optimum solution is self and family support with a right amount of wage work in trs 1. And the right rate is earning the minimum money necessary for Christian poverty.

8.2. Choosing a career


In Utopia, Tamás Mórus writes that if only meaningful professions existed and a good number of people did not work in the service of armaments and the luxuries of the rich, then it would be enough to work three hours a day. The career choice criterion illustrated in Figure 3 is to look for occupations in the fields of K and O, and mostly in N.

Figure 3. Main aspects of career choice


Of course, this does not mean judging people in any occupation. It is possible to come to Jesus from any position, from any profession, and at the time it seemed that tax collectors and street women were easier to come to than high priests. At the same time, those who had awakened to their Christian vocation had obviously not gone on to become tax collectors or tax collectors.
With practical caution, it is likely that within these three (especially N) areas there are occupations which are largely interspersed with the service of the 2nd trs. We will return to the possibilities of this in a moment.
8.3. Are our hands clean?

Of course, it is not that by choosing to do what we do, we are no longer contributing to the harmful effects of trs 1. This is impossible, since whatever work we do in the 1st trs, i.e. for money, we have put our labour into the hands of others to dispose of it for their own purposes, and these purposes cannot be different from or better than the people who pay us.

To illustrate this, let’s look at an occupation in Area K: how the baker’s beautiful service of giving bread to people is distorted in trs 1. First, the bread he bakes is only for those who can pay (not for the hungry: letter E). Second, in Hungary, for example, we eat 23% more than is healthy (Dr. Simai, p. 293) and 40% of people are considered fat (with its biological and psychological disadvantages: letter F). Third, in Hungary we throw away enough bread to feed a small African country (letter R).
Not to mention the fact that all national income goes into a large common treasury, from which it is distributed according to the established principles and practices of trs 1 (see Figure 2), so that whatever work we do in trs 1 inevitably contributes to the prosperity of areas F, T, R, P, H.
Is Babits right: “Life is dirty, only nothing is clean” (Desires and Never)?
I think it is not our job to wash our hands. “Nothing can enter a man from the outside that can contaminate him. It is what comes from within, from the heart of man, that makes man unclean.” (Mk 7,15) It is not that our wage labour for our humble living is used for the evil of others that defiles us, but that we work more than absolutely necessary in the 1st trs for our welfare, or out of sloth and conformity even instead of service. A clean hand justifies no one. Only action can justify us. The act of healing the world. The Jesuit.

8.4. For more human governance


We will now look at the ways in which we can infuse our Trs 1 workplace and working hours with Trs 2.
To the extent that we have a say in plans, budgets and the use of human labour within working time, let us seek to influence these so that trs 1 better meets the healthy human needs of trs 1 in Figure 1. So let us strive to increase K, O, N and reduce F, T, R, H, P. We try to adapt our own work and tasks in the first place.
More human management can probably be achieved in a higher position. But Jesus called leadership in the kingdom of this world dominion (e.g. Lk 22:25-26). How do we judge whether a position is dominion? Since the ladder from slave to king is continuous, it would be difficult to draw a line. We will try to give some clues to the considerations of individual conscience and community in specific cases. In any case, we should beware of ‘spiritual’ considerations that allow for any social situation or objective action (e.g. it is all right to be rich, but remain spiritually independent of material things; it is all right to stab one’s enemies, but do it without feeling hatred).
A position can still be a non-domination if
– remain poor and merciful (it is okay to have a large salary if you use it for giving);
– it is not required to have a representation that makes its solidarity with the poor impossible, hypocritical;
– remains meek and useful (time is not spent on drilling, drill-baiting, sucking up, hypocrisy, lying, fighting narrow group interests, etc.);

– things do not outweigh people in your life;
– his main concern remains education in love (and he has time for the necessary learning, fellowship, prayer, etc.);
– he can follow Christ, who cried woe to the rich etc. and was executed by ‘justice’, combining goodness with prophetic criticism.
Further and even more specific points of reference can surely be found in one’s individual conscience or basic community.
Let’s see an example of how trs 1 is improved. Some of the tasks that Jesus emphasised, then still largely in trs 2 – such as the Good Samaritan, welcoming the traveller or supporting elderly parents – are now much more integrated into trs 1 in rich countries (ambulances, hospital, hospitality; restaurants, hotels; pensions). Of course, the wealthy enough used to have access to an age-appropriate escort, a doctor, an inn and a wealth reserve to ensure a peaceful old age; and ‘of course’ the destitute masses do not have all this today. The nature of the 1st Trsz. has not changed in substance, but its ‘shape’ (see Fig. 2) has, and in this respect it has changed in a favourable way. Probably the main role in this was played by the growth and organisation of material resources: the travellers on the Jericho road already pay in advance for public safety in the form of taxes, ambulance and hospital cover in the form of social insurance and passenger accident insurance. (At the same time, the more abundant material resources are much more available for armaments than in the past.) But there was also a certain role for leadership decisions at various levels, for the spiritual development of the wider population, and above all for the followers of Jesus.8.5. Our staff, clients

Our employees are among those with whom we spend the most time. We play a significant role in their lives, even unconsciously. If the circumstances and the task allow, we can talk to them in good conscience during working hours. The pleasure of working together and the personal development that comes from the work is as much an outcome as the finished product.
And the jobs where we work with people have great potential for service (foster care, child care, boarding school, nursing home, social worker, doctor, nurse, paramedic, physiotherapist, teacher, kindergarten teacher, psychologist, patron, etc.)
There are also many opportunities for people to meet people in their homes (e.g. statistical surveyor, bookkeeper, postman, etc.).
Such a service, initially hidden in the hours of paid work, can grow and, by overshadowing paid work, extend to the whole day. Let us take an example.
Jesus describes the Holy Spirit with the Greek word ‘Parakletos’ (meaning: advocate, lawyer, comforter, called upon, helper, intercessor) (e.g. John 15:26). Experienced from the inside, there are certainly many ministry opportunities in the legal profession (and in other professions where people come to us for help) that are similar to the work of the Spirit.

To mention just one: many couples seeking divorce turn to lawyers. Some of them do so simply to sort out the legal formalities of a divorce that has in fact already taken place between them; but a good number of them (unspokenly) prefer to seek help. This is shown by the fact that around 40% of them abandon their divorce (at least for a while) after the first conciliation meeting. If a lawyer, with the right spirit and preparation, takes the fate of families in crisis to heart, he or she can help couples who approach him or her by visiting them in their homes, talking, writing, inviting them to programmes, testimonies, group meetings, prayer, etc. He can help them a lot and in some cases achieve complete healing (they can become converted Christian families living in community). He obviously cannot ask for money for this extra work and visits, as they have not asked for it and if he did it out of their pockets, they would certainly refuse. And if at the end – happy with the result – they wanted to show their gratitude in money, he could not accept it either, because then he would lose much of the power of his example, he would be doing half-finished work, he would not help his ‘clients’ to become sacrificial loving people themselves, helping those in need without expecting anything in return.
At the same time, the work of such a lawyer for a salary is greatly reduced, as family therapy takes a lot of time. With such thoroughness, he can only take on a quarter of divorce cases. He becomes a “professional”, “full-time” lawyer (or more precisely, a “facilitator”), but his money-earning (1st trsz.) work is reduced (or rather, because of this).

8.6. Flexible working hours, independent work

A lawyer could not do all this so easily if his work were not essentially individual. Thus, although they work in teams, they have a great deal of freedom. But how does one who works in a brigade, where the others are “driven”, money-loving, exempt himself from what the “Gentiles do” (cf. Lk 12,30)? This is why it is important to look for jobs where one has the freedom to work much less (and thus, of course, earn much less) than the average. Such occupations are, for example, in intellectual work (translator, journalist, computer science, etc.) or in backyard farming (e.g. raising pigs, planting trees, planting foil, etc.)
It can also be a solution if you choose an occupation well below your abilities. In this way, he can easily do what others do and still have time and energy for other services. The sons of the world, on the contrary, aspire to high positions for higher pay that are beyond their abilities.
In many workplaces, part of the time is spent waiting or hovering. I don’t think it’s worth the front of the house if we don’t try to fill these times more slavishly than the rest of us with wage labour. Of course, they will only appreciate us (and we will only be a good influence) if we spend our time not gossiping or being bored, but in meaningful, useful ways: if they see that we are passionate about a good cause and that this permeates our working hours.
To sum up, we can do the level of paid work necessary for our poverty (see point 8.1) with a good career choice (see point 8.2) with a good conscience, as part of our vocation, just as we can do the washing up at home. If we have transformed our life into a harmony of life to please God, then we should carry out every aspect of it with the ambition of holiness of life.

9) Preparing for the profession

9.1. Very important

If a Christian adult with an old-fashioned work ethic, who is highly skilled in his profession and very conscientious in his work, tries to do something more necessary, he will probably soon find with disillusionment that he is of little more use to mankind as a bumbling catechist, for example, than if he were to pursue his profession with all his energy and competence. He will have to work hard to prepare himself for life again, because in the decade and a half or two decades he spent preparing himself in his youth, as a result of the distorted one-sidedness of the education system, he was almost only prepared for the profession.
Of course, the interests of mankind are paramount, so if one realises that one’s energies must be put into the 2nd trs, one cannot avoid ‘retraining’ oneself. After all, if, for example, more oat weavers are trained than necessary, the problem is not solved by building a new oat weaving combine, but the graduate oat weavers have to throw away their degrees and knowledge and, annoyed at the lack of planning in the education systems, retrain themselves for a more necessary trade.

But in reality it is not so clear. A common example: many women spend years studying, earning a degree, but this does not prepare them for the role of wife and mother. It is a scientific fact that one of the prerequisites for the mental health of a young child is a close, uninterrupted, loving mother-child relationship in the first years. So it should be a priority social need for mothers to care for their children in the early years. Yet so many women with higher salaries and degrees do not go on childcare, saying that because they get paid more for their work, it is surely more important to society than childcare. They do not see that there is little correlation between solvent demand and important needs. Others argue that they will not throw away their degree to wash nappies instead. But they would stay at home to make people, which would require more preparation than anything else. If they also had a degree in child-rearing, it would not be so strange to see their other degree lying fallow for a while. Some of the priests also have professions and degrees, yet (in the case of non-institutionalised independence) we do not consider it a crime not to practise them.

Since the human image of those who design the educational systems and the forces that shape them is not the same as the image of Jesus in Figure 1, the annoyance and self-conversion of Christians who are becoming aware of their vocation will be very frequent and intense – unless we can gradually awaken vocation in young people at the pre-career age!

9.3. School choice

“Why didn’t you become a veterinarian?” his teachers asked in astonishment of a Christian boy who is the only student of colour in an agricultural college, even though he only learns as much as he tutors his peers. His abilities and the knowledge he had acquired in his boyhood in a large parish were well weighed in choosing a school on the basis of the criterion mentioned in 8.6: it is worth while to choose a school, a profession, a trade, a position, below ability, thus foregoing more money and social grandeur, and freeing oneself for many services besides a respectable livelihood.
Will not the consequence be a general lack of ambition and dullness? Will not the swelling sail of scientific and economic progress become limp?
In one apocryphal passage, Jesus says to the man who breaks the Sabbath: “Blessed are you if you know what you are doing. But if you do not know, you are cursed.” Likewise, if it is a vocation that gives rise to this ability-under-choice, then there is no danger of the danger posed in the question above. Then a very healthy change happens: young personalities become more harmonious, instead of being distorted into one-sidedness in over-stretched learning; the over-stretched pace of scientific and economic ‘progress’ slows down somewhat, and at the same time people’s mental health, family happiness, multi-faceted culture and friendships increase; and the sense of vocation, no longer paying attention to why they are paid, stretches its shoulders to the most pressing problems of humanity, instead of dragging the already strained side of the ‘drawer’ further.

In school, both selfishness and vocation can appear outwardly in the form of both diligence and negligence:
– Selfishness can be diligent (I study to get into the graduate elite) and it can be neglectful (I don’t study because I am lazy).
– Vocation can also be diligent (I study to help, to be a “Parakletos”) and (in this respect) lacking in energy (I need this knowledge to make a modest living, but I study the skills I need for my vocation extremely diligently outside school).
Of course, even a candidate for Parakletos does not study everything indiscriminately and diligently. In some subjects, he is content with a level 2, and he also learns – outside school – things that are necessary for his vocation but not included in the curriculum. But can students choose wisely, or will their natural laziness make most of what they learn superfluous? Let us not lose sight of the fact that this study encourages ambitious Christians to redirect their energies and the unambitious to become committed Christians who are ambitious in their vocation. For those who choose laziness, this study offers no justification. But an ambitious student knows how to choose wisely what to study, because it is this very ambition that necessarily leads him to practise his vocation during his student years. It is in this practice that he or she gains the experience and the judgement of the kind of preparation he or she needs.
Still, those who find little in their studies that is relevant to their vocation should think about whether they should choose a profession and school closer to their vocation, and how they could still apply their knowledge in the 2nd trsz.
Another important aspect of school (and career) choice is to find a paid job in the place (geographical location or sociological context) where one’s vocation calls for it. Often the vocation calls to the village, but the occupation is linked to the town. Or the vocation may call you to a particular social stratum (workers, peasants, tramps, gypsies, etc.), but the occupation surrounds you with another stratum. It is much harder to change later than to think ahead. (Many young people ‘work their way up’ to a more glamorous, ‘elite’ environment rather than discovering their mission to their own people.)
History presents us with a series of great pedagogical saints (e.g. St Joseph of Calazanti, St Philip of Neri, St John Bosco of Don Bosco). Even today, many young Christians find teaching the profession closest to their vocation. Unfortunately, the semi-official view is that Christian men are ‘not suited to educate future generations in the right spirit’. Yet we should not give up the N field at all if we can work there courageously and uncompromisingly. There is a possibility to do so. For as a matter of law, those who produce material things are always paid more than those who educate people. That is why people with teaching qualifications often prefer to go into better-paid non-teaching jobs. Thus, schools (especially in the ‘vacuum’ created by social upward mobility, e.g. in small villages) are happy to accept unqualified teachers, and such a job can even allow someone who has not been admitted to college because of his religious beliefs to graduate

On the subject of courage and non-negotiation: in some cases, accepting the consequences can have a much greater educational effect than continuing to teach by silencing the conviction. For example, in Mexico in 1926, elementary school teachers were required to make a declaration in favour of atheism. Out of 400 teachers, 399 chose unemployment. Today 96% of Mexicans are Catholic.

9.4. Positive ethics

Our task is not to banish wage labour from our lives, but to make ourselves available to those in genuine need, out of passionate love for God and humanity, without expecting payment. In this way, by constantly taking on more important services in place of those who are more indispensable, harmony of life is developed and wage labour is reduced to the minimum necessary for subsistence.
On the contrary, if one does not serve sometimes almost to the point of overwork, it is to be feared that he will use the dethronement of wage-labour merely as a self-justification for his lack of ambition, his talents will fall into idleness between the two systems of production, and he will be thus reduced to the status of a “lazy, idle servant” (cf. Mt 25,26).

10.) The 2. trsz.

10.1 Why is it called a “production system”?

“The process of humanization on earth, though not identical with the development of the Kingdom of God, is included in it. Our mission is therefore not only religious but also human. The Christian message is addressed to all the labours of man,” comments Schillebeeckx in Lumen Gentium (Concilium, June-July 1968). Others, seeing this impossible separation, include wage-labour in the Christian vocation, but only in principle, superficially, with a sprinkling of holy water, without reflecting on and changing the reality of wage-labour according to the requirements of the Gospel. Unlike these two extremes, work must be made a real part of vocation:
– by revising and excluding from it all that is non-Christian
– and by discovering forms of work that are only apparently similar to the work of trs 1, because we do it differently and for others.
The essence of this difference is that in trs 2 we are not looking at whether a need is solvent, but whether it is pleasing to God. We want to make people healthy (in the sense of trs 1) by serving healthy needs.
The term “production system” implies that we need to serve on an “industrial” scale because the need is huge. In addition, trs 2 must provide work opportunities (not wage jobs, but perhaps incidentally so) for people willing to serve (good examples are the works of Mother Teresa or Albert Schweitzer, in which many people find trs 2 work opportunities. But a bush commons or a life around a parish can also develop in this direction.)

The characteristic of trsz 2 is that it creates community among those who serve in it. Another is that its purpose and means overlap: it makes people who are half-healed healthier by giving them the opportunity to serve others. In this way it satisfies the healthy human need to “want to serve”. Special mention should be made here of women who, for various reasons (including voluntary choice), have not started families. For them, there is much less institutional framework for life than for men who choose celibacy. Special care must be taken to help them find their place. This means a more fulfilling life for them and can be a significant resource for 2nd trs.
Flexibility is an important feature of the 2nd trimester work schedule in general. Between the obsession of working mothers and the life-grey dichotomy often felt by those who have children, the 1st trimester does not find much of a solution. Neither working from home nor part-time employment is sufficient or appropriate. However, services can be provided at home and, if necessary, outside the home.

The concept of a production system also expresses the need to do the same maximum preparation, time input, etc. as others do for wage work. Today, we first arrange our lives according to our occupation (schools, jobs, settling down) and in our free time, almost as a hobby, we “build” the Kingdom of God. We need to turn it around: our vocation is the basis of our life, and it is subordinate to it, adapted to it, and even deriving from it, that we must choose our schools (and within them, what we learn deeply and what we learn more), our occupation, our place of work, our place of residence.

Figure 4 The second production system

We must be professional in our profession, but not as a slicer, a barber, but in the full harmony of life. It follows that in trs 2 there is not an elite group of professionals working in a particular field, but they simply bring together and direct the work of many. For example, someone who is a specialist in marriage therapy will naturally go to a patient’s house to clean up with a brother who regularly visits; and when healing a couple in difficulty, he will also enlist the help of his ‘amateur’ brothers and sisters in a good marriage.
“Training for ministry must also be appropriate to the ‘production system’: not just individual, but regular, collective and organised (e.g. courses). At the same time, it must be closely linked to practice. The 2nd TRS itself must be organised and planned, based on a thorough analysis and knowledge of social reality.

Two differences should be highlighted where the term ‘production system’ is misleading. Firstly, the whole of our service is essentially directed not at things but at people. If we are to heal the world, we must heal the hearts of people. For all ills come from man. And the other difference is that we must engage in our ministry with our whole personality. The world has enough unredeemed redeemers. Only when we become saints will we sanctify the world.

10.2. What is needed?

Without any particular order, here are some examples of the reality and vision of a small group of communities around a parish. First of all, many leaders who create and nurture small communities are needed, because a small community group can be a universal organisation for ministry and preparation. And the development of small communities is facilitated by such ministries as: pastoral care, lectures, courses and practical training, pastoral leadership, liaison between different churches and denominations to work for unity and to share experiences of the most dynamic movements, interpretation…
Organising and running camps for the education of young people (to support and supplement family education), drama and its many supporting activities, singing, music and its supporting activities, physical education and games…
To help the needy directly, organising charities (and making everyone available for small occasional or regular help), social workers; organising a hunger mission..
The intellectual life, essential for action, is supported by such services as: librarian with a good knowledge of the specific literature of the 2nd trs., book distribution, editing, contemplation, typing, translation, writing studies and books, photography, tape recording, creating art, making songs, creating board games …
A large number of people are needed for healing participation in social problems:
– pastors and many catechists who, by contacting “heathens” who need religious solemnity at life’s turning points, can lead them to committed small-community Christianity;
– missionaries to villages, homeless people, gypsies, workers, the state care system, tourists, people in spiritual crisis (e.g. telephone helplines), etc;
– counsellors for couples in crisis, for those raising children, for those about to start a family, for those about to choose a career, etc.
The thousands of needs of the 2nd trsz. can benefit from almost all skills, whether in the humanities (e.g. doctor, lawyer, psychologist, sociologist), technical (e.g. architect, computer technician) or manual trades (painter, carpenter, electrician, plumber, plumber, heating engineer, plumber, household appliance repairer, driver, etc.).

10.3. Three main areas of trsz. 2

The first is direct assistance. For example, getting a TV set for a single lady on a pension, or taking care of the official affairs of a disabled person, or introducing a young person seeking God to Christianity. For the reasons explained at the end of point 8.4, here in the richer part of the world, direct help is largely I, and to a lesser extent E and A. Here, the “sheep without a shepherd” are the greatest object of the prudent mercy, and on them “his heart is set” (cf. Mt 9:36).
The areas E and A (which are almost always interspersed with the need I) are mainly to be found in the ‘vacuum’ left by social upward mobility (e.g. farms, small villages, the lower classes). A French example: a community of three couples moves to a remote village where there is no priest, no doctor. They are well prepared, including a teacher, a doctor, a farmer. A community capable of facing up to all difficulties. The village is blessed by their work, their helpfulness, their missionary service.
In addition to the direct help, there are also a number of background activities, such as the production of spiritual products for the letter I.
Another area of trsz. 2: giving money to support the brothers and sisters working on geographically distant problems (e.g. Mother Teresa, missionaries, etc.)
Whenever this is mentioned, someone always brings up the idea of looking around us for those in need, because giving money is easy, but loving personally is harder. And indeed, there are certainly some for whom sending money is as much a sop to their conscience as paying church taxes is for others (cf. 5.5). Yet we must see that direct help and remote help are not at all contradictory, but are directly consequential. For if I am truly concerned about world hunger, I will obviously try to win others to this cause, and I cannot do so without personal charity. At the same time, however, it is of no use if I make an excellent Christian of myself and others, if we are not capable of taking on the burden of poverty for our brothers and sisters (for example, in Australia, Chinese migrant workers earn a good living, and are surrounded by advertising, shop windows and the consumerism of others). Yet they always send home most of their wages, living on a handful of rice just like the extended family at home).
It is now a well-known fact that world oppression arose because the armed white man used the resources of other peoples for his own ends. “If, at the touch of a magic wand, all that had been built with the profits extracted from the colonial peoples would disappear, whole cities throughout Europe would vanish without a trace.” (György Makai: The Third World) If it is within the reach of the 1st trs. to plunder and destroy, it is necessary that the 2nd trs. should also have the Third World close at hand to help!
The third main area of the 2nd trsz. is the internal help in the community. For example, if something is broken in the house, I can fix it myself (if I can, slowly and unprofessionally) or I can call a professional (which is expensive and who knows if he will do it properly), but often the best thing is to call a brother or sister who is good at it and has tools (because it is his profession, or a handyman). The latter is internal helping.

There are three advantages:
– it takes him much less time than it takes me because he knows how;
– He does it professionally and honestly (and probably cheaper);
– the money stays in the community.
So, if we think of the community as a big family, trying to do its internal things in a way that best serves the outside world, then it is reasonable to have everything done by the most competent person (least time and best results). There is also an opportunity to rebuke each other: “This is your need to be by far the consumer, I’m not doing it for you.”

It is a difficult question to decide whether we should pay each other for this internal help. If we truly trust each other (that the other will give all the money they have to give as much as I do), then internal payment is like putting money from one pocket into another. But still, my need is solvent (letter K) and my brother has the right to prioritize the truly needy over me (in fact, it is our common goal, I should encourage him to do the same!). If, therefore, I am not poor like the insolvent poor, I had better pay some respectable price for the service within; and if he will not accept it, I shall put it without fail into the coffers of the hungry, for thus my brother’s helping me becomes a service to the truly needy.

I do not wish to give a further, detailed, specific description of trsz 2. It is born out of the willingness and resourcefulness of communities to serve, and to know and adapt to their social environment. Ideas abound when you look at reality and think with your heart. A Taizé letter, the Lives of the Saints, a psychological or sociological article analysing human or social problems, a newspaper article, a conversation in a pub – followed by responsible community discussion and prayer – and a blessed enterprise is born.

IV. Conclusions

11) Poverty, pettiness, defencelessness

11.1 The key question: do we accept poverty?!

The situation of clergy outside the cloister is today most similar to that of lay people who take their Christian vocation seriously. How do they manage to ensure that their livelihood does not come at the expense of their – obviously more important – priestly activity? They look for jobs that require little time (e.g. extermination, cleaning, boiler heating, translation, etc.) and reduce their financial needs to a level that allows them to make a living. St Paul is also known to have supported himself by weaving tents from time to time.
With practical prudence, surely there are many ways to work less for less money. For example, only the man or only the woman may be in wage employment, or they may work part-time, or they may be freelance, self-employed, free-lance, working in the backyard, etc. Or we can consider the larger unit than the family, the small community, as a farming unit, and invent various forms of non-institutionalised independence, of alternate subsistence.
It may be worthwhile at some point to examine in a study the advantages and problems of the division of labour within the family (or small community) in terms of male and female identity, children, marriage, community and service.
We have seen that we have no responsibility to promote scientific and economic progress, but that the 2nd trs. is our responsibility. This, however, is only the conscious condition for taking the vocation seriously. The key question is whether we can live on a lot less money for the sake of service.
In our practice, Christian poverty is primarily the result of giving money. After all, those who do not have Material Goods as their god (and who have already solved their housing problem) can find plenty of their normal monthly income for giving. The practice of counting money is also so important in order to control our monthly self-enrichment.
The poverty of Jesus and the apostles, on the other hand, was the result of leaving their livelihood, their occupation (Jesus the carpentry, the apostles the nets, the customs, the land, cf. Mk 10,29) in order to invest their labour in the 2nd trs. “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Mk 1,17).
A beautiful but still one-sided form of Christian poverty, invented for passive ‘seculars’, is to give more and more of our monthly accumulated wealth, according to the measure of our hearts. We are of much more use to the world and the Kingdom if we do not put ourselves in the 1st trsz (and give from the money we receive for it), but in the 2nd trsz. “I have neither gold nor silver, but what I have -” is worth much more: my time, my energy, my charisms, my service, my love, my self (cf. Acts 3,6).

11.2. Poverty as a means to save the world

Poverty is not just an unfortunate consequence of vocation, but an integral part of it, a means to an end.
This is not to diminish the importance of giving. An important service of the 2nd trs. is the giving of money to the hungry. (For the needy in developed countries and for community purposes only in exceptional cases! It is very common that the needs of the “needy” in this country already fall well into the F area! Just think where our housing needs lie on the scale between a multi-million forint townhouse in Rosedomb and a small village adobe house costing a few thousand forints. And how needy is someone who spends thousands of forints on furnishing his home – when less fashionable furniture can be bought for free. These “rich people supporting each other” broadcasts are mostly the result of a guilty conscience: “If I can afford such a standard of living for myself, what right do I have to consider his similar needs as unjustified?” Poor to poor does not give money for foolishness, only for human need.
And the same applies to the use of Community money. No small part of the money that flows into the official church framework serves individual and collective consumer needs that are scandalous in the face of the Gospel. The church, which has millions of hungry members, may maintain its buildings in vain, but those who decide on its money are “inwardly full of greed and wickedness” (Lk 11,39). The temple will not be clean and beautiful as long as it is a den of devils and robbers (cf. Lk 19:46), as long as the income of the temple is not given by merciful men to the needy (Lk 11:41)! When a say in the use of money is at most formal, it is best to send the church tax straight away to support the poor churches and to inform our own parishioners of this, so as not to offend them (Mt 17,27).

Poverty as an independent service has enormous significance in stopping the current future exploitation and destruction of the earth. It is no coincidence that Saint Francis of Assisi became the patron saint of ecology. Countering the self-accumulation of capital, Marx declared that the only value-creating force is human labor. Humanity had to learn at its own expense that this proposition is only valid in the opposition of capital and labor. Human labor is only minimally value-creating compared to the fact that the greatest part of values is the Earth’s ready-made treasures. Schumacher tries to make economists understand that their system consumes its capital, thus rushing towards certain bankruptcy. Humans are only similar to the housewife who shops in the store and prepares the food. Therefore, it can be said that in today’s situation, the more a person consumes beyond the level of simple subsistence, the more they harm the Earth than what they use for their work in return. The poor, by their poverty alone, are more useful than those who consume and produce beyond the level of poverty. (Our ideal, of course, is not just passive poverty.)
Our life, rich in God and poor in material things, must be immensely attractive and compelling. The ascetic world culture is the only answer to the historical question, “Will we survive the future?”
Therefore, we must not only accept poverty as a consequence of giving and a vocation not worth pursuing for money;
but we must also strive for poverty (because consumption at level F is destructive);
and we must educate towards poverty, for it is the only way to ensure that humanity’s life is not one of war, exploitation, and ecological destruction; and that our life and the lives entrusted to us are not a sad departure from Jesus (cf. Mk 10:22), a contempt for God (cf. Lk 16:13), and unhappiness.

11.3. The Spirit of Poverty

What motivations does the Spirit call us to poverty with?
• Say no to the destruction of the Earth.

• Say no to the exploitation of the poor.

• Share the fate of the hungry. In the body of Christ, “if one part suffers, every part suffers with it” (1 Cor 12:26). But not hypocritically, rather genuinely, effectively: “He takes our burden, our care. To take it on his shoulders is not foolish!” – says Attila József.

• Represent those whose cries are even suppressed. Be a burning candle stub, so that “people see better” the distant conflagration. Myrdal, the 1974 Nobel laureate writes: “In people’s minds, there are two incompatible lines of thought present simultaneously: on the one hand, they recognize that the masses in underdeveloped countries suffer terrible misery and that they need substantial help; on the other hand, they selfishly refuse to make any significant sacrifice for this help. This contradiction necessarily has a devastating effect on people’s sense of reality!” Personal impact must restore people’s sense of reality. Where we live, in the midst of the wealthy world, we must represent reality with our way of life.

• We want to live richly in God. Life harmony is only possible on the soil of poverty. And we want to give everything to our children: namely, God first and foremost, a community of love, a merciful heart, the ability to love. We can only give them this in a family of poverty.

• Help with what you give up. (Like the Chinese guest workers, see section 9.3.)

Many misunderstand, misinterpret, or mock poverty. But the Spirit of Poverty, love, finds the right way of life. They say that families cannot achieve poverty. But Mother Teresa feeds seven thousand children every day in Calcutta, and this large family is not an obstacle to her poverty. Giving our children nutritious food: this is not wealth, but service to the hungry. Indeed, the daily hunger of those entrusted to us is the same “need” as that of the distant hungry. But if I provide for my children with the awareness that I have not even fed many of their “adopted” siblings, then I will not destroy my own with more material things than absolutely necessary, but rather feed the adopted ones. (Yes, destroy! Because one cannot serve two masters, and if I give prosperity to my children, then I cannot give them God!)
Let us think practically about how we can free up resources for service. Love does not strive for representative poverty, but for effective poverty. In today’s human life, the four biggest material items are housing, cars, vacations, and home furnishings. Therefore, the most significant questions of poverty are these:
• What kind of housing am I satisfied with? Do I also strive for where most people strive, and where, consequently, everything is more expensive? Instead, do I seek the “vacuums” created by social ambition, where I can get housing much cheaper (and where there is a much greater need for service)?

• Can I truly serve more with a car than without? After all, operating a car consumes enough resources (money, time, energy) for raising two children, feeding two communities, or educating 7 Indian children! And besides, it is perhaps the most versatile and effective tool for destroying the Earth! Is my additional service made possible by the car worth that much? And if sometimes a car is justified and I buy it, do I consider before each trip whether it is absolutely necessary to go by car?

• What does vacation mean to me? A bus tour, Lake Balaton, a hotel, driving? Or a friend’s house in a small village, a bike tour, camping, a western trip with hitchhiking and a sleeping bag? Does it mean consumption, laziness, snobbery? Or silence, conversation, beauty, prayer, preparation, the adventure of new types of service, play…? And if I have my own vacation home (if I already have one), do I help others who need such a vacation (usually families with small children)?

• Today, almost every necessary piece of furniture can be obtained for free or much cheaper with patience and inquiry from less valuable legacies, people moving into new homes, houses about to be demolished, consumer-minded acquaintances, etc. Therefore, someone who furnishes their home very cheaply does not require deprivation. Normal aesthetics can also be created cheaply, at home. One only has to endure the gaze of others. But if we are afraid of the gaze of others, then it is better not to claim ourselves as Christians in words, because the contradiction between word and lifestyle only brings shame upon Him. If we are afraid that they will see the light, and therefore cover it with a “home decor veil,” then why did we light a light at all? (cf. Mt 5:15) An expensively furnished home (if not a remnant of a pre-conversion lifestyle) is a testimony that can destroy, discredit any apostolic endeavor.

11.4. The Basis of All Our Educative Power is Sacrifice

The smallness, poverty, and defenselessness born of love, embraced for the sake of vocation and in harmony with God’s will (and in some cases – not because of some rule, but because the nature of service requires it – renunciation of marriage), in short, sacrifice, without which there is only wormy, unripe fruit. “The student is not above the teacher.” (Mt 10:24) We cannot raise better disciples than we ourselves are to the Master! (At most, if they seriously seek the Kingdom of God, they will outgrow us.)

Gyula I. Simonyi

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