|Cover of the book|
November 11, 2008. Rome, Italy. Frank J. Hanna, a successful
entrepreneur and a member of Regnum Christi, was recently interviewed
by the Rome-based Zenit news agency on the release of
his new book “What Your Money Means: And How to
Use It Well.” His insights shed light on the ever-relevant
question of how to use our money with a Christian
sense of stewardship, balance, and common sense.
* * *
What Money Means to a Christian
Book Explains Wealth in
ROME, OCT. 19, 2008 (Zenit.org).-
The danger of riches has long been a core topic
for Christian preaching. This month saw the release of entrepreneur
Frank J. Hanna’s new book “What Your Money
Means: And How to Use it Well.”
ZENIT spoke with Hanna, who has started and financed many
businesses, and awarded the William B. Simon Prize for Philanthropic
Leadership. Through the Solidarity Foundation he donated to
the Vatican the oldest copy of the Gospel of Luke
and the “Our Father” in the world.
you schedule this book to come out at the same
time as the current worldwide financial crisis?
but I will treat the timing as providential. Interestingly enough,
there has probably been more public discourse about economics and
money during the last month than any recent time in
memory. So I think the message contained in the book
is particularly relevant to folks right now.
what is that message?
Hanna: Well, there are actually
several messages, but first and foremost is that money is
a gift from God that we are obliged to use
wisely. Many of us spend a lot of time and
energy trying to make money, and we often spend a
lot of effort studying the products we are going to
buy, like a new car or a washing machine, but
we don’t tend to spend as much effort asking ourselves,
“How am I supposed to use my money to be
a better person, and to help those I love grow
Q: So how does one use
money to grow in virtue? Isn’t money the root of
Hanna: Money is not the root of
all evil. Instead, the attachment to money, in place of
God, is what damages our soul. For that matter, the
attachment to anything that is objectively good can be damaging
if we put it before God, for then we have
made some thing or person into a replacement for God,
and we have violated the first commandment.
money, like other gifts from God, is something he gives
us in order that we might serve others with it.
And in serving others, we grow in virtue.
|Frank J. Hanna greeting Pope Benedict XVI|
Q: Does this mean it is wrong to spend any
of our money on ourselves?
Hanna: Not at all.
In fact, I spend some time in the book exploring
this question of how much is enough, both in terms
of how much we amass, and how much we spend
on ourselves and others, particularly our children. In the same
way that someone blessed with a talent or intelligence is
justified in using it to provide for themselves and those
they love, so too can we use money. But any
time we become self-indulgent, or for that matter overly indulgent
of our family members, we enter dangerous territory.
So what prompted you, a businessman, to write this book?
Hanna: Socrates said the unexamined life not worth living,
and so as a businessman, I resolved that I would
not spend my money, my energy and my time in
an unexamined manner. But that meant I would have to
spend a lot of time examining -- money, my own
life with money, and the lives and thoughts of others
who had dealt with the notion of money.
book is the result of that examination. I originally just
gathered notes for myself. Soon, I realized that I needed
to organize my thoughts and notes to be able to
have something of a paradigm through which I could understand
what I had gathered. And as I pulled it all
together, I realized that my brothers and sisters might also
benefit from reading it. After he read it, I shared
it with some friends, some of whom had a lot
of money, and some of whom had to struggle with
their financial survival every day, and both groups of friends
seemed to benefit from it.
In the end, money
is an integral part of the world in which we
live, and the failure to think about it clearly can
easily lead to hazardous results. Conversely, the proper understanding and
use of money can help us lead far more fulfilling
lives that we might otherwise expect. In fact, a better
understanding of our money can even help us achieve a
better understanding of those things that money can’t buy.
Q: Do you really believe that understanding money can help
us better understand the things that money cannot buy?
Hanna: Absolutely. Any time we seek to prayerfully discern our
use of the blessings God has given us, seeking His
guidance, we are going to get closer to him. And
so this effort to understand something like money, which because
of the physical world of scarcity in which we live
necessarily demands a fair amount of our time and attention,
is likely to help us obtain wisdom concerning its use.
Once we have wisdom, we are better able to
appreciate the non-monetary, non-material things, like love, hope, faith, courage,
friendship, and so on. We can start to see money,
not as an end it and of itself, but a
tool, an instrument, that should help us in our quest
for the things of God.
Q: You have received
recognition as a philanthropist. How can those of us who
do not have the money to be philanthropists give to
Hanna: Well, let’s first understand what philanthropy is.
The word itself comes from two Greek words: “philos,” meaning
“love for,” and “anthropos,” meaning “man.” So by this definition
Christ, who had very little material possessions, was the philanthropist
We do not need a lot of
money to be generous, and again, that is part of
what this book is about. The money we have, however
much it may be, should be an instrument whereby our
generosity is nourished and encouraged. And I think that the
better we understand it, and its role in our lives,
the more likely we are to meet this ideal.
Q: Is this book on money consistent with the
teaching of the Church?
Hanna: I certainly hope so!
I had a couple of priests and an archbishop read
the draft, as I wanted to make sure I was
in accord with the Church’s teachings. I think, however, that
it also helps that I am a layman, as the
perspective from someone who has been in the trenches of
business is, I hope, a helpful contribution.
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On the Net:
"What Your Money Means: And How to
Use it Well": www.amazon.com/What-Your-Money-Means-Well/dp/0824525205