If you’re like me, you probably never heard of Saint Bernardino of Siena (1380–1444). I learned about him a couple of weeks ago when I read a summary of his life. His feast day is on May 20, the same day as my birthday. This year, when I turned 57, I decided that it was time for me to learn about the saint who is honored by the Catholic Church every year on my birthday.
Last summer while my wife and I were having dinner at a local restaurant, the waitress who was serving our table asked me how everything was going with my law practice. I looked at her, hesitated, and answered, “It’s going pretty well.” Since I didn’t recognize her, I asked, “Do you work for a law firm?” She answered that she had worked at the courthouse for several years before quitting her job.
In March 1990, I interviewed my grandmother, Cecilia LaHood (Grandma Ceil), for an article I was going to write and distribute at an upcoming 80th birthday party her children were planning for her. Grandma Ceil’s date of birth was April 15, 1910. During the interview, Grandma told me that her family lived in three different houses during the first six years of her life. None of those houses had electricity or hot water. I recorded the interview and later transcribed what Grandma said. Here’s what she told me about their fourth home:
At about 1:30 on a Friday afternoon 13 years ago, I took a break from work and sat down to eat a quick lunch. While I was eating, I glanced through a multipage sales letter I had received from a company I had never heard of. The owner of the company claimed that he was a multimillionaire, and he was promoting a three-day conference in Las Vegas, where (he promised) he would teach the “secrets” of how to become wealthy.
As you know, two of the Ten Commandments deal with covetousness: “Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s wife,” and “Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s goods.” Covetousness is defined as an inordinately strong desire for possessing someone or something. In his book Victory Over Vice, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen said:
We were all born with a strong tendency toward pride, the mother of all sins. Because of our fallen human nature, we were also born with a tendency toward each of the other root passions of lust, anger, avarice, envy, gluttony, and sloth; furthermore, as a result of the individual unique traits that each of us were born with, combined with the environment we grew up in and our life experiences, we each entered adolescence, and later adulthood, with a predominant tendency toward one of the other six root passions.