Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Holy Father: “ask for the gift of poverty – not misery, but poverty ..."


When I was in 6th grade I remember sitting at the supper table and saying, "I wish we were poor!"  I didn't know we were.  My parents freaked - my dad almost slapped me off my chair and yelled, "You're a g--d--n idiot."  My mother started crying, "How can you be so stupid!"

We are poor you moron!

At the time, I was reading Johannes Jorgensen's biography of St. Francis and was deeply impressed by Francis' poverty and 'foolishness for Christ'.  In fact, around the same time, I embarrassed my brother one day acting as if I was truly crazy and announcing over and over, "I'm touched!  I'm touched!"  I learned early on not to imitate the saints in everything.

That said, I wish Pope Francis could have talked to my parents ...

I love how the Holy Father praises poverty...
A Christian community – the Pope continued – shows that it is renewed in the Holy Spirit “when it is in search of harmony” and not internal division: “when it seeks poverty, and does not hoard riches for itself, because riches are to be put to the service of the needy”, and when “it does not show anger” or offense in the face of difficulties, but is patient like Jesus:
“In this second week of Easter, during which we celebrate the Easter mysteries, it would be a good thing to think of our communities, be they diocesan communities, parish communities, family communities or other, and ask for the grace of harmony” – a gift of the Spirit; “ask for the gift of poverty – not misery, but poverty: the capacity to manage my possessions with generosity and for common good”; to ask for the grace of patience. - Vatican Radio

St. Benedict Joseph Labre

St. Angela of Foligno praised the gift of poverty as well:  "through temporal poverty the soul will find eternal riches; through contempt and shame it will obtain supreme honour and very great glory..."

Today is the feast day of my special patron, my man, St. Benedict Joseph Labre.  So poor.  Such a fool for Christ.  He is also special patron to Benedict Joseph Ratzinger, whose birthday is today.

[Yeah, but ...  Now watch how defensive all those vowed to poverty will get.  I'm thinking a couple of priests may have some defensive posts up as well - what did the pope really say ...  he said POVERTY.]


Happy Birthday Holy Father!


  1. Ah..Terry! I do admire those black shoes. They have wandered many paths and seen many miracles when visiting God's people. Those beloved black shoes are sturdy, hard working, faith filled walking shoes. I hope they are comfortable enough to cushion Papa's sciatica pain. I hope they are thick enough to endure the slick rain and the trials of a road paved with tears, joy, hope and a glimpse of heaven. ^^

    And now to another beloved Papa...Happy birthday Papa Emerito Benedict! You are a blessing to the Church and to all of us. I am so glad our God has given you to us and to the world!
    Many happy birthdays!

  2. I have always loved Mother Angelica's comment about the deaths of Princess Diana and Blessed Mother Teresa, who died less than a week apart. "One who had everything died with nothing. Another who had nothing, died with everything." Nothing in this world makes us "rich", no matter how much we have.

  3. Well, Diana had two beautiful sons, so that's not nothing.

  4. Terry, I know this is not right, but that story made me laugh..I remember as a kid watching a rerun episode of "Family Affair," and they made friends with a "poor" kid and in a typical condescending 60s TV show the kid were all clean cut and healthy but they just didn't live in a penthouse like those other brat, AND, they wore sweatshirts (LOL like we kids, not on TV did) Mr. French..the very gay butler, did not approve but it all ended up well. Anywho, in their attempts to create a message they made being poor looks really appealing so I said to my Mom, "I wish we were poor," and she almost dropped the meatloaf pan! Luckily I wasnt insulted like you were but....Well, I quickly got over that and went back to wanting to live in a Penthouse apartment on Park Avenue with green carpeting and my very own, stuffy gay butler, and those big door knobs with circles around them. Plus, I thought Uncle Bill was kind of hot. I also wanted to live in the Bewitched house, and the Brady House so I quickly gave up my dream of being poor to live in suburban/urban TV splendor.

    Did you ever think of writing a memoir...your writing style reminds me of Augustine Burrows and "Running with Scissors." I would snatch up the first copy.

    I think Mother Angelicas comments were a bit much, how did she know the state of Diana's internal life? I don't think Mother Teresa would say something like that.

    1. It's fine to laugh - I do too. I think of that stuff and crack up - esp. how naive I was and still am to a surprising extent. My favorite family was the Cleavers - I so wanted my brother to be nice to me like Wally was to Beav - and Ward and June were just like my uncle and aunt - so the family was believable for me. I liked Uncle Bill too - I think he was in the original Parent Trap.

      You flatter me with the memoir idea. Bad boy!

      M. Angelica came out with some doozies. Once she said that California should be destroyed because of The Last Temptation of Christ - I can't recall the exact quote but I wrote to her about it and she said she didn't say it - I have her letter somewhere - a friend also gave me the tape whereon she said it.

      As for Diana - M. Teresa loved her and inspired her. I like to think Mother Teresa obtained Diana's salvation in and through her prayers. I would never have contrasted the two. M. Teresa was very much like her patron St. Therese who elected to remain at the table of sinners, sharing her dark night with them. Mother Teresa lived her spiritual life like that. She loved Diana and would never have condemned her.

      Big hug to you Mack!

    2. I think you are missing the point. Diana had beauty and wealth and was worshipped by the world. Yet, she rarely knew even a moment of true happiness. According to Father Groeschel, Mother Teresa was asked about Princess Diana, and her only comment was, "That poor child." The point is that all of the material wealth, the fame and the fortune could not save Diana. Yet, Mother Teresa, who gave up all material wealth and literally went into the garbage dumps to save people, had true wealth that she took with her into eternity. There can be no doubt that Mother Teresa would never condemn Princess Diana, and Mother Angelica did not either. It was a matter of contrasting what the world defines as success as to what God defines as success.

      Sorry that was not clear.

  5. Big disinterested hug back : )

    I loved Mother Angelica as she reminded me of every cranky old nun we had in school! They would say outrageous things and you would be thinking..."That's crazy" but you would never say it as you would get a ruler on your knuckles or a chalkboard eraser aimed at your head, (which oddly enough I still like the smell of, perhaps because I spent my formative years with chalk covering my head and or banging the erasers together in detention. And its funny, flipping through the channels I have to stop and see what she has to say and I sometimes see her guests have that look on their face like "Did she actually SAY that?" but they are too afraid to contradict her!

    And I still say "Yes m'am," or "no m'am" to every cranky old lady in black I meet..

  6. This is hilarious, inspiring, uplifting - yes do write your memoirs - please!

  7. I think there is a difference in Franciscan (order) understanding of poverty than is understood in the Church in general, ie, that poverty is a virtue. Here, I will link to a Patheos contributor:

    1. Very perceptive ... of you, that is. He was one of the apologists I was referring to when I wrote:

      "Yeah, but ... Now watch how defensive all those vowed to poverty will get. I'm thinking a couple of priests may have some defensive posts up as well - what did the pope really say ... he said POVERTY."

      Thanks Matt! ;)

      I'd just like to add that Mother Teresa of Calcutta knew better. Many of the contemporary 'reforms' in religious life have been undertaken to live the vow of poverty more authentically as well.

    2. I added another post highlighting some Sicilian Franciscans as well as part of Francis' will and testament.

    3. The Franciscan understanding of poverty is what ironically makes it so attractive. It's got this whole passionate, radical liberation from the world thing going on, the thing people try to fill with empty political philosophies. Yes, MOC as well. There's even been quite wealthy third order Franciscans who although don't revoke the world in the same way(King St. Louis), still apply the evangelical counsels with rigor. Of course you know all of this, but thanks to Holy Father and you for poverty talk. Sometimes I worry about the whole distinction between poverty, renunciation, charity for Jesus Christ versus as wikipedia defines charity as "the voluntary giving of help to those in need, as a humanitarian act" is not clearly delineated.

    4. You are such a good guy Matt! Your wife and kids are so blessed.

  8. ah Terry too funny, you do make me laugh out loud. From comments about the tv shows in the 50's 60's many of us readers here must be of the same era, coming home from school and plopping down in front of those B & W tv's. Mr Green Jeans, Lamb Chop, Wally, Gunsmoke, My Favorite Martian, etc.
    My family drama was born from the alcoholism, & for my birthday this year, my sister bought me a bottle of Galliano Liquor, as an odd tribute to our 'youth', such as it was, as this was a popular drink for the folks. umm, but All drinks were pretty popular. (Harvey Wallbangers).
    One Easter season, when I was about 7 or perhaps 8, I decided to imitate Christ, and went into the front yard, dressed in robes, and pretended I was crucified to the big tree: I was going to stay there until 3pm, I believe I lasted about 3 minutes. Were we in the same neighborhood ?
    so, it's You, Mack, who keeps calling me Ma'am ?

    1. When I was in 3rd grade I read that Teresa of Avila ran away with Lorenzo to be hermits - when they were little - I convinced my cousin Tommy to do the same and we went several blocks from where I lived, sat in a hedge along the road and then, without saying anything, got up and returned home.

    2. I can tell you were just adorable. (oh ! and you still are, of course !)

  9. +JMJ+

    This post reminds me of two chapters in Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales. The first is, "How to Practice Real Poverty, While Being Actually Rich", and the one right after it is, "The Practice of Spiritual Riches amidst Real Poverty".

    1. He should be read by all laity and secular priests. These things are simply common sense. Don't you love Francis de Sales though?


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