“Ask a Priest: Should I Hold On to 2 Houses?”

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Q: My wife and I own two houses in two states. Both are modest, but one (rural) property is rougher, paid in full, and potentially a place where we could retire. We have a mortgage on the other, which is located near our jobs and is also home for our young-adult children. We are considering various options when the kids move out. We could hold on to both houses, for instance, while I continue to use the rural home as a getaway place for solitude, prayer and study. Being a recent Catholic convert, I now question whether having two houses is excessive, and whether we should just stay with the one we’re living in and sell the other. Any advice? – R.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: It’s good to hear of your conversion. Welcome to the Church!

It’s also good to hear that you are thinking seriously about how to live the spirit of poverty. That could be part and parcel of your desire to have a place for solitude, prayer and study.

Ultimately the decision about the properties is one that only you and your wife can make. The Church doesn’t have specific guidelines in this kind of case.

It does teach, however, that “All Christ’s faithful are to ‘direct their affections rightly, lest they be hindered in their pursuit of perfect charity by the use of worldly things and by an adherence to riches which is contrary to the spirit of evangelical poverty’” (Catechism, 2545).

The fact that you are asking about the properties might be a sign that the Holy Spirit is nudging you to reconsider your lifestyle and how you might better share your goods with the poor.

Perhaps it would be helpful to begin praying precisely about this topic. You might invite your wife to do the same.

Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance. A book you might find helpful is Happy Are You Poor, by Father Thomas Dubay, SM.

You might want to take the matter to Eucharistic adoration, too. And see what Jesus might be asking. Remember, he is never outdone in generosity.


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  1. I don’t think it is sin to have used monies earned for a retirement home ‘when retired’ if the ‘means’ is there to do such. If you have a mortgage only on your primary residence, and the other is paid for… well,
    it means to me prudent use of the blessing of money. (rather than spending on fancy cars, fashions, and furnishings for the primary home or ‘wishing for wealth’ with lotteries and casinos.) You were looking to the future… when buying a home for retirement might be made more difficult for the depreciation in those greenbacks)

    BLESSING to hard word. When it is time to sell and fully retire, sell the primary residence and . . . WELL, so you get a bit more of a ‘nest egg’ in retirement, with a paid up retirement home. CONGRATULATIONS for being a responsible citizen and able to handle retirement without any ‘social assistance.’ GOD PROVIDES to those who do as ought and work (serve) others. This is not sin…this is the BLESSING OF GOD for WORK. (that both are modest homes says it is not at all indulgent) It sets evangelical example of the phrase: GOD PROVIDES. (I’m reasonable sure that while you had two houses you also were putting in dollars in the collection basket and other charities as well as helping the kids with education post high school.) HAVE NO GUILT… it is ok to be ‘wealthy’ in America, land of opportunity. One primary residence, paying taxes and one rural for retirement (paying taxes) is blessing.

  2. Don’t feel guilty for GOD’S BLESSING. Just ‘stay humble’ in the Grace of His guidance.

    We are to love God ‘AS’ we love neighbor AND Self. (it’s ok to enjoy the blessings for
    hearing HIS good counsel) Consider ‘teaching others’ on managing finances perhaps
    in an Adult School class.

  3. As another 1st Timothy Chapter 1s written but sometimes misinterpreted: For the LOVE OF money is the root of all evil, and some in their desire for it have strayed from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains. https://bible.usccb.org/bible/1timothy/6

    PIERCED with many pains: ANXIETY to sustain it, GREED in acquiring MORE of it, which some call ambition, as they work 24/7 and forget taking time to ‘smell the roses’ by taking the kids to the park or on a family vacation at the beach, or just spend time celebrating life events with extended family (Holy Communions, Confirmation, Birthdays, Anniversaries) LOVE OF money at the expense of WORSHIP on Sunday…too tired and decide to sleep in for ALL THE GOOD ‘they’ did Monday through Saturday.

    God wants us to have a GOOD, BLESSED LIFE here on earth…and realize LIFE IS ETERNAL … oh what awaits those of FAITH who served Him on earth by the abilities He gave, ENJOYED THE FRUIT of honest labor, with others, shared with the Holy church and those whose vocation serves the church. To the person writing, have no guilt about SUCCESS with and IN Christ. The poor cannot assist the poor. Don’t boast of it, but DO ENJOY BOTH HOMES, wife, children (or adult children) . . . nothing comes but what God allows.

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