Saturday, August 13, 2011

Poverty of spirit.

St. Therese and the practice of poverty...
"She was very attentive to the practice of poverty.  The ordinary poverty of Carmel was not enough for her; she was glad to do without the things we have in Carmel, even the things she needed.  If, for instance, someone forgot to serve her in the refectory, she was quite content and would not draw attention to the fact.  'I'm like the real poor,' she would say,; 'it's not worth making a vow of poverty if you don't have to suffer for it.'  Sometimes a sister might steal an idea or a saying of hers.  She found this quite natural, and said that because of her poverty she had no claim to these any more than she had to anything else." - Testimony of M. Agnes of Jesus, O.C.D. - St. Therese By Those Who Knew Her.
Has religious poverty changed?


  1. Sadly, yes.

    EWTN has a lot to do with it.

    I know that isn't popular, but it's true.

  2. If memory serves me correctly this was in the Story of a Soul, yes? I recently finished An Infinity of the Little Hours re Grand Chartreuse. They like to say that they were an order that never needed reform as they were never deformed.

    It seems many orders have become assimilated our culture rather than resisting it. To wit,entrance requirements are such that only the very finest specimens meeting the most exacting standards qualify. I would venture to say that folks like St. Ignatius might not have passed a psychological screening. Our convents and our seminaries are no longer hospitals for sinners.

  3. A Random Friar12:17 PM

    As a member of an order of mendicant friars, allow me to add two cents.

    I think part of the problem has come from an over-correction after Vatican II. Poverty and obedience may have become too much the focus, as an external, not internal, observance, and thus we went the other way.

    For we Dominicans (and actually, for St. Francis), poverty was not an end it itself, but a way of life in service of sinners, ad extra in the preaching and ad intra in the internal mortification of the appetites.

    The end result was a kind of "professionalization" of the religious state. We sought higher salaries and more "dignified" careers, forgetting that the most noble career is serving Christ. Parochial schools lost their religious witness because so many good sisters sought more "meaningful" work.

    All of us need to figure out a way to readjust the over-correction closer to the ideal. Things that may have been scandalously expensive years ago and unseemly ("You have your own computer in your house?") are now almost de riguer for study and work and evangelization. The goal here is a moving target, that changes in time, but the target, again, should be Christ. Not anything less.

  4. For Francis, HOLY poverty was indeed an end. He "courted" Lady Poverty his entire life, calling her "elusive."

    I'm not sure that "blaming Vatican 2," like many are wont to do for any problem, is necessarily what will get us to the root of the problem.

    Look at religious life as portrayed on EWTN, like I mentioned previously. Religious people don't serve the poor- they preach, and wear fantastic habits!

    Until each order recovers its original charism- a trait often neglected in lieu of habits and Latin- this problem will continue.

  5. Anonymous1:12 PM

    I love that they included the Holy Infant in the picture. Lol...I love being Catholic.


  6. "Has religious poverty changed?"


    If Religious Poverty were to cease, the bottom would completely fall out from Religious Orders that are under attack from within.

    Modernists have been able to trash every corner of Holy Mother Church but not this one.

    They lurk about, waiting for the Traditional Catholic Nuns to die out.


  7. A Random Friar2:25 PM

    Thom, I'm not blaming the Council or its documents, but the societal seismic shift that shook religious life. After almost every major council there is some kind of shift one way, sometimes too far, then a correction the other way, etc, etc. We took the greater personal freedom that the Council gave us, and like a teen trying to prove he's a hotshot, crashed the car the first chance we got, because we didn't think we should be bound by "limits," such as that arbitrary speed limit.

    I will disagree with respect to poverty and St. Francis. Everything for him was about love of God and neighbor, and for his "lay" preaching band to call sinners and unbelievers to God. He was more poetic overall, than St. Dominic, but both orders had essentially similar, if not equal, magnitudes of poverty. Some of the subsequent friars minors, I think, focused on poverty in itself so much that it ended up splitting our Holy Father Francis' vision into competing camps and the whole Spirituals mess. This is not to say some of Dominic's sons later didn't fall into similar arguments, but the preaching managed to keep us together. We weren't trying to imitate St. Dominic as much as we were eager for the salvation of souls.

    Poverty in itself as an end does not make sense, any more than penance as an end in itself would. They are both tools, ways to reach the end, He who is love, and His creatures made in His image.

    Anyway, I will leave it here, and I will probably stop here as well.

    Pax et bonum, frater!

  8. What I thought was absolutly amazing was that yesterday on one of the news pages was a little article promoting the book "Where children Sleep" or something of that sorts. Included a slideshow of children in various parts of the world and their sleeping quarters. My bedroom in my townhouse is the same size as an entire one-room house in several places of the world that woudl accomodate 7-8 people of several comparison you will get turned in to Social Services if you have a brother and sister share a bedroom.
    It was such a contrast looking oat the bedrooms of wealthy kids vs poor kids. The materialism of it girl's bedroom in Japan had literally hundreds of dolls piled to the ceiling.

    I really try to impliment the "poverty of spirit" can be difficult because as an engineer I do make a comfortable income and get paid a fair wage for my education, training, and work responsibilities. It is very easy to get consumed by the material things of this world.

    As far as Dear St might work for her inthe monastery--but in the real world--women especially in the work environment--you really need to stand up for yourself or you'll get walked all over. That is a form of confidence and good self-esteem. You'll never get a raise or promotion or get assigned the real high-profile gooey project if you lack self-confidence.


    On a lighten note--I'm going to see "Cowboys and Aliens" tonight :)

  9. Anonymous4:21 PM

    mighty fine horse you got there sara. you a single gal?


  10. My handsome steed there is G2, short for "Grulla #2". He is a great horse. He is owned by some friends of mine who run a few cows but primarily do hunting outfitting. When that photo was taken I was joining them for a weekend moving cattle from summer pasture to winter pasture. He is an excellent cowhorse and mountain horse and you just have to go along for the ride. I would love to buy him but his passion is cows and he would be bored with basic trail and arena riding..


    PS saw "Cowboys and Aliens" tonight....Daniel Craig makes an excellent cowboy, wears the scruffy look really well :)

  11. michael r.6:42 PM

    LOVE that photo!


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