Of wealth and riches
It is often the case that the affluent and the wealthy are perceived to be little better than parasites who have employed devious and dubious means to extract their fortunes from the economically disadvantaged.
Many share the view that the riches owned by such individuals may not have been quite justifiably acquired. Indeed, anyone with access to the media will find impressive confirmation of the accuracy of this opinion in the shape of the many oligarchs and despots, the corrupt politicians and business fat cats in our world. There is no doubt that wealth obtained by unscrupulous and even fraudulent methods is misbegotten and can only be procured by antisocial, ruthless and un-Christian means.
But there is another type of riches. Riches that have been owned for centuries, that have been honestly managed and - with luck - can also be preserved for future use. Such riches can also be an aspect of our society as a whole, can contribute to the well-being of everyone and be something from which the many can benefit.
Frequently here in Ennstal we will hear locals say: "Admont Abbey is rich!"
- And it is true that we have a rich tradition that dates back to 1074 with all its highs and lows and the many happy and difficult times we experienced as our region gradually developed. But we can also look back on the heavy responsibilities that all our predecessors here in the monastery have always borne with regard to their fellow human beings.
- Indeed, something else we own in abundance are our obligations to those who work here. We value and show our appreciation of them. We share our surroundings with them and work towards the same ends.
- While we are rich in obligations towards our local region and society, we are also rich in terms of achievements. Admont Abbey has always played a major role, today as in the past, in connection with the development of our region. Sadly, we alone cannot accomplish everything that needs to be done. Individuals and the community must also pull their weight.
- And we are rich in highly qualified and conscientious management personnel who see it as their mission in life to serve the Abbey, its people and the region. After all, wealth does need to be supervised; only thus can it be protected and produce profits, the very profits that we need to finance the many undertakings of the Abbey.
- And we are rich in terms of the motivated pupils who attend our school to the age of 16 years. We are rich in terms of the education of our young people who will provide the basis of the future prosperity of our society.
- And we are rich when it comes to the many appeals and requests for help that we receive from all around the world that we respond to in both material and financial form as part of our social and charitable responsibilities. At present, for example, we are providing major funding to a Benedictine mission in Brazil that is undertaking the development of an agricultural college in a region in which no higher education facilities are available.
So wealth and riches can have a positive side when capital is used for benevolent purposes. Those who own capital must use it for the common good, to create employment so that others can earn a living. It must be used in such a way that it benefits all, whether it be in the social, cultural, religious or spiritual, educational or commercial spheres. The commercial wealth of Admont Abbey has enabled us to undertake the many tasks we set ourselves autonomously and without help from the state over many centuries. The Abbey's commercial enterprises thus make a significant contribution to the promotion of the religious, cultural and material dimensions of our world. "Wealth hastily gotten will dwindle, but he who gathers little by little will increase it."