Thursday, August 20, 2009
"I have frequently noticed that Jesus does not want me to lay up provisions; He nourishes me at each moment with a totally new food; I find it within me without my knowing how it is there. I believe it is Jesus himself hidden in the depths of my poor little heart. He is giving me the grace of acting within me, making me think of all He desires me to do at the present moment." (St. Therese)
I am learning more and more that religious poverty encompasses a far wider expanse. It goes beyond lack of material goods. Although religious poverty calls for an explicit giving up of temporal goods, it is the call to spiritual poverty which is more difficult and challenging. It is a true dying to self. Our Obedience calls us to give up our own will for a greater good. It is the yielding of my opinions and likes to another, usually one's Superior. It is the embracing in faith of something I may not understand. It is the giving of my time and talents to another. Religious Chastity is also a life of poverty. When one gives up the good of family and marriage, it is because one is called to embrace a love that sets no boundaries. Religious Chastity calls for sexual continence and celibacy but it calls for a self-emptying love and a detachment from particular loves. This is most difficult. When one is called to love everyone and no one in particular is hard. I feel this sometimes. It is by God's grace that one can even desire a consecrated life. But this life is not possible if one does not receive another form of love from God. It is the love of God, and purely that, which makes it possible. When we give up something for Him, when we choose to create a vacuum, it is only so that God can fill it up with another kind of love, a more pure and transforming kind. It is my experience that after the momentary pain of the sacrifice, God fills me with a deeper sense of consolation which makes me exclaim, "Jesus, how happy I am to have chosen You!" When all is said and done, it is LOVE alone that keeps me going. St. Teresa of Avila used to say, "God can never be outdone in generosity," and she is right. Spiritual poverty is much more difficult than material poverty. It strips us from all that is not pure. It is painful. But it is a step to our spiritual marriage with God. It is impossible for us, but with God, everything is possible.
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