The Spirit of Poverty
Presence of God – O Jesus, I contemplate You on the mountain, instructing the crowds on the spirit of poverty. I, too, approach You, eager to hear Your words.
“Opening His mouth, He taught them, saying:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”
Thus begins the Sermon on the Mount; then Jesus explained several times how this poverty of spirit is to be understood. “Lay not up to yourselves treasures on earth: where the rust and moth consume, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up to yourselves treasures in heaven: where neither the rust nor moth doth consume, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also” (Matthew 6:19-21).
Consider that Jesus addressed these words not only to the Apostles, but also to His disciples and the crowds that followed Him, proving that although everyone is not called to make the vow of poverty—family life does not permit this—the practice of the “spirit of poverty” is incumbent upon all, namely, that affective detachment from the goods of earth which enables one to use these goods with moderation and detachment. Those who, like fathers and mothers of families, have the obligation to administer goods and to increase them by honest work, must do so rightly, taking care that these material affairs do not make them neglect their own spiritual good and their duties to God. “What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul” (Matthew 16:26)? The spirit of poverty also demands that they who have few possessions and live in material want accept their condition serenely and patiently, seeing in it an invitation to imitate Jesus’ life of poverty more closely.
Consider furthermore that when the divine Master said, “Sell what thou hast and give it to the poor,” He joined the exercise of charity to that of poverty. If we detach our hearts from earthly goods, the spirit of poverty will make us generous toward the needy.
“O Lord, the spirit of poverty is such a great treasure! When we possess it, we rely not on human means, but we place all our trust in Your divine Providence. I beg You to give me a great love for this precious treasure. It is so noble that it has You, O sovereign God,” for its servant (cf. St. Francis).
O Lord, cure me of my excessive solicitude for the necessities of life. In the silence of my heart I seem to hear Your gentle reproach: “For after all these things do the heathens seek. For your Father knoweth that you have need of all these things.” (Matthew 6:32).
Yes, Lord, You know my needs, and since You are no stranger to me, but a Father, You are bound to provide for all my wants. O Lord, strengthen my faith in Your word. May my confidence equal that of St. Francis of Assisi, who was so certain of You that he did not hesitate to give his father not only his money, but even his clothes and to go about the world deprived of everything, happier and more secure in his poverty than the rich in their wealth. O blessed poverty! You do not abandon, O Lord, him who trusts in You; You are kind and generous to him who has given up everything for love of You, and who trusts completely in your heavenly Providence.
O Jesus, if I cannot actually leave all material goods and concerns, grant that I may at least renounce all exaggerated solicitude for them and preoccupation with them. May my only concern be to love and serve You with all my strength, to seek friendship, intimacy, and union with You.
One day You said to St. Catherine of Siena, “Think of Me and I will think of you.” Deign to repeat these words to me and fix them in my mind and heart, so that no care for material things will be able to distract me from You.
Note from Dan: This post on the spirit of poverty is provided courtesy of Baronius Press and contains one of two meditations for the day. If you would like to get the full meditation from one of the best daily meditation works ever compiled, you can learn more here: Divine Intimacy. Please honor those who support us by purchasing and promoting their products.
Art for this post on the spirit of poverty: Fragment of a fresco Vergine in Maestà, con Bambino, quattro angeli e san Francesco, Basilica inferiore di San Francesco (Assisi – Italy) [Virgin Enthroned with Child, St. Francis and Four Angels, Lower Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, Italy], Cimabue (also known as Bencivieni di Pepo, or, in modern Italian, Benvenuto di Giuseppe), 13th century, PD-US author’s life plus 100 years or less, Wikimedia Commons. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.