Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Franciscan Poverty part II

Pope Pius XII

The following are the words from Pius XII regarding our observance of holy poverty. ‘Poverty is so necessary and so much a part of the evangelical doctrine, that a Christian has very little regard for his salvation, if he does not at least hold this virtue in high esteem and divert his desires from worldly interests. Hence it is necessary that there be in the Church those, who distinguished by their observance of poverty, act as beacons leading and reminding others to practice it. These souls are you Franciscans, provided that you do not deviate from your ancient and venerable rule. Strive therefore, to preserve a becoming poverty in your houses and possessions… Be poor in your garb and your manner of life. Work therefore, to become exceedingly rich, by the grace of God, in those things which are true riches, and which engender virtue in those who are willing. And pour out these riches upon others with a generous hand.''

From what we have already said concerning poverty as a condition for perfect love of God, perhaps one would be led to believe that the Franciscan life is one devoid of all affection for creatures, and that our days must be passed in the frigid air of a false detachment. It is quite the opposite.

Poverty denotes the fullness of true love. But love of the Infinite God, which is man's only true happiness, does not exclude a right love of creatures. Rather, it includes it, since ‘he who abides in love abides in God and God in him.’ Love of creatures therefore, is not only consistent with Franciscan spirituality, but a sign of it. By a correct love of creatures we direct all our love ultimately to God, and hence nothing is detracted from the love due to Him, if we love all things in and for God. Thus poverty is truly the correct guide to loving all creatures in the right way, because by it we abandon all things for the love of God. We then acquire the correct perspective toward creatures, loving them not for themselves, but because of God and in God who is present in them.

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