Avarice - reprehensible acquisitiveness; insatiable desire for wealth or extreme greed for material
Middle English, from Old French, from Latin avritia
, from avrus
, from avre
, to desire.
The desert monks tell us that a preoccupation with things is learned and can be unlearned. The desert tradition
also teaches us that avarice is learned and can be unlearned. It is very important to remember that the monks are talking
about "thoughts" per se. Creation itself is good and wonderful and a gift.
Thoughts beget thoughts or more precisely
beget narratives and stories. We create stories in our head that are caused by a preoccupation with things. The
focus of these narratives in our mind is to grasp even more and more. Unchecked these thoughts along with our desires continue
to grow unrelentingly. It is good to know that these stories our mind creates will afflict us. We need to pause
and audit ourselves often to see if we have become preoccupied by thoughts.
Examples of THINGS are "things," "what
if my health deteriorates," "I need to work harder and harder to get more money," "a job," etc. Health and work and
money are good things, however a mental preoccupation with them can lead to burdens like lying, anger, despair, compulsion,
wasted time, worry, anxiety, etc.
The desert tradition tells us a person who lives preoccupied with
things does not live in the present but is usually living in the past or in the future. Usually the things we are preoccupied
by don't even exist or existed only in the past. It is a life of fantasy and day-dreaming.
The desert monks believed
that many things are good. We are given many things for their use, enjoyment, appreciation. The monks also tell
us many things mediate holiness. Learning detachment from things unburdens us. It takes time. The monastic
focus is that "God alone satisfies." Nobody including monks walk this journey perfectly or the same way. It is
hoped that God will remove our ambition and replace it with resolve. This is a journey of passages with no clear before
and after point for most of us.
Cassian specifically mentions "work" as a way to renounce thoughts about things.
An ordinary life with ordinary work and ordinary prayer helps us to acquire a peaceful mind. Taking care of a family
and respecting and taking care of what we have been given teaches renunciation of thoughts about things.
A very major
theme among the desert monks is the "Memory of God" ("Memoria Dei"). Remembering God helps us to divert our attention
to God from thoughts about things. Remembering God is not a life that is always thinking about God. It is a life
that remains alert to God especially in our silences. The desert monks tell us simple and regular prayer stills the
mind. A still mind is a mind that is ready for more prayer. A silent mind is a mind that enables us to be attentive
to the presence and voice of God.