Sunday, August 19, 2012
Poverty is the removal of cares and the Mother of Holiness.-St. Meriadoc
(Not this Meriadoc but was the only picture of a Meriadoc I could find on google images.)
Often we cringe at the thought of poverty. Why is that? It is because we are attached to the things of this world because we depend upon them for happiness. These items, places, or people are not bad things, but quite the contrary; when we use them correctly, which is for the greater glory of God, we are using them in order to give of ourselves instead of take from others. It is only this way in which we truly love and are not seeking others as a means to bring in something for ourselves. This is most easily achieved in poverty.
The first thing that must be explained is the word poverty. In this context it does not necessarily mean to give up all the goods we have and live like a beggar, although in particular cases it can, but instead it means to not possess any goods. This is called poverty of the spirit and through it we become detached from the things of this world and are able to more fully experience freedom.
This detachment makes us more able to experience freedom because it allows us to give our heart more fully to Christ who poured his heart out for us when it was pierced with a lance on Calvary. Anything we are attached to has a piece of our heart and when we fill it up with an unsatisfying good instead of Christ our hearts are deprived of true satisfaction and peace.
Another benefit of poverty is it helps us to more fully enjoy the things of this world. This is not just because we are more thankful for what we receive but also because of the capacity in which we can enjoy them will increase. This is because when we take off our selfishness and put on Christ we begin to see as Christ sees, hear as Christ hears, feel as Christ feels, taste as Christ taste, and smell as Christ smells. How much greater the world is when we view it in the light of Truth! The focal point in which we see things is the most important part of us for it is the self. What good does it do to gain the world and lose the self because if we lose the self we cannot truly enjoy the world that we have gain. However to have nothing but the self, which is more fulfilled the more we deepen our relationship with Christ, is to enjoy the world. This is why St. Francis of Assisi enjoyed nature so much, because he saw the greatness of God in all things and how we all have the same source of Love keeping us in existence.
Poverty of the spirit is becoming human beings fully alive because it is what allows us to be most fully attached to Life itself. A Father of the Church, St. Irenaeus, says in the second century, “The glory of God is a human being fully alive.” A human being fully alive shows how God has brought a creature in death, sin, back to Life so that by Christ becoming poor we might become rich (cf. 2 Cor. 8:9). Through this poverty we are able to integrate the highest part of our being, a relationship with God, into every facet of our life instead of trying to put the lower parts of our being, our relationship with the world, into our relationship with God. Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (cf. Mt. 5:3).