Tag Archives: poverty

Jesus and the Rich Youth

Mark 10:17-27

The Gospel on the rich young man is rich with meaning. It is noteworthy to point out that Jesus still loved the youth despite knowing that he wouldn’t give up his possessions to follow Him (c.f. Mk 10:21).

Christ and the Rich Young Ruler, Heinrich Hofmann (1889)
Christ and the Rich Young Ruler, Heinrich Hofmann (1889)

This young man had observed the laws from his youth (Mk 10:20). Although he did not choose to take on the path to perfection (give away all his possessions and follow Jesus), he did not suffer a lessening of Jesus’s love.

It is amazing how intelligent and philosophical Jesus is as he brilliantly draws from Eccl 5:10 to illuminate the path to our perfection; “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money; nor he who loves wealth, with gain: this also is vanity.”

As St. Augustine comments: “Although he did not pass the bounds of humanity, nor follow the perfection of Christ, still he was not guilty of any sin, since he kept the law according to the capability of a man, and in this mode of keeping it, Christ still loved him.”

This passage corresponds to plenty of us today, for most of us are the type who would do our best to keep away from grave sin and obey basic Gospel precepts, but we would REJECT the idea of following the Spirit’s Counsel towards Perfection.

There is a stark difference therefore, between the Perfect and Permissible Will that God has planned out for each of us.

Let us remember; when we listen to God, it becomes possible, but as long as we keep our human notions, it becomes impossible (c.f. Mk 10:27).

___

Originally posted on Instagram.
Image: PD-US

Grief into Joy

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn,
while the world rejoices;
you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.
When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived;
but when she has given birth to a child,
she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy
that a child has been born into the world.
So you also are now in anguish.
But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice,
and no one will take your joy away from you.
On that day you will not question me about anything.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.”
—John 16:20–23

Often we have a tendency to assume—even, sometimes, when we know better—that if we follow Jesus perfectly, we will live a charmed life free of suffering. Thus, when we experience suffering that seems “undeserved,” we become frustrated with God and think that there’s no way we can handle what He’s asking of us.

Christ_in_Gethsemane

But Jesus doesn’t negate the suffering of the Christian life. He acknowledges it fully, saying that if they persecuted Him they will surely persecute us. He tells us we will weep and mourn and grieve while the world rejoices. Yet our pain and suffering are not wasted in His plan of salvation. When we meet Jesus in Heaven, when we see the destination to which He has led us on such a long, winding journey, our hearts will rejoice. We will receive a lasting joy, greater than anything of this world.

We will experience suffering in this life, but through Christ, this suffering becomes a holy calling. We don’t need to put on a happy face and pretend everything is fine—no, this trial is a gift, meant to break and re-form our hearts, making them more like His own. We can embrace our suffering and lean in to it. And we don’t need to spiral into despair, either, for this trial is not the end. A greater joy awaits us, a joy that will eclipse any memory of pain.

piergiorgioOur patron, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, was a joyful, exuberant young man who radiated hope. He loved to have a good time with his friends, sharing inside jokes and enjoying outdoor activities. But at the same time, he did not shy away from suffering. Although he easily could have stayed within the comfortable bubble of wealth provided by his family, he ventured into the poorest parts of his city, undeterred by the noise and smells, to seek those who needed company and support. He saw the beauty in each person he encountered and considered them friends. His passion for the Lord propelled him to serve, and even when he contracted a fatal disease through this service, he embraced this, too, as a gift. His love for Christ emboldened him to face every trial without fear.

Fear not. As Christians, we always have reason for hope. Inspired by the example of Pier Giorgio, may we face our sufferings with boldness and joy, knowing that all our earthly pain will pass away and that the joy to come is worth it all.

We are an Easter people, and hallelujah is our song.
—Pope Saint John Paul II


1. Heinrich Hofmann, Christ in Gethsemane / PD-US
2. Photograph of Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati and friends

Originally posted at Frassati Reflections.

Living at the Ends of the Earth

Growing up, I heard two things.

One was that I could be and do whatever I wanted if I put my mind to it. The other were stories about saints. The former spoke to my work ethic, high ideals, and diligence. The latter sparked my desire to do great things, be something great, and impact the world for the better in a bold and dramatic way.

Since stories about saints often involve romantic notions of leaving everything behind to go to the ends of the earth in service of the Lord, they also served to energize my natural wander-lust and implant the idea that it is only in great big sacrifices that holiness is realized.

The combination of these two culminated in a very impassioned desire when I graduated college. I wanted to give my life to God, and I knew that that was possible because I could do anything I wanted if I worked hard enough! I knew (or thought I knew) that I was supposed to leave everything behind and gallivant off to the yet undiscovered rain forests of Cambodia to serve the natives there (because that’s how you become holy, duh!) and by golly, I was ready to do so.

However, soon after graduating, I found myself working a retail job in Columbus, Ohio. Then I found myself living in a small, heavily depressed town in southern Michigan. Newly married, away from my friends and family in Ohio, and most certainly not at the farthest ends of the earth feeding the homeless of Transylvania.

For a while, I kept telling myself that this was just the first step in the grand plan to bring the Eucharist to the natives of Madagascar. Yet, my husband and I became more established in Michigan and the plan seemed to change. As I slowly began to realize that Iceland and I were not going to meet anytime soon, I also had to ask myself the question “how do I become holy here?” and then the insecurities had to be dealt with: “why am I not good enough for the Lord? Why doesn’t He want to send me to the ends of the earth?”

As I searched for the answers to these questions, the same stories of saints from my childhood kept popping up. As I got to know many of these saints better, I also began to understand that the stories of the saints paint an incomplete picture.

These stories make the saints’ lives out to be a great adventure, and surely they are, but the stories never delve into what the saints were truly experiencing during their great sacrifices. Sometimes the stories told mention that Saint so-and-so didn’t really want to go to China/Indonesia/Africa/you-pick-the-place, but it is usually presented as “but that’s why this person is so cool.” No doubt it is cool, but this approach cuts short the nature of their sacrifice.

The places considered to be at the ends of the earth several centuries ago were not at that time the hip, trendy, social justice places they are today. As I learned to live in (and even love!) my small, depressed town, I began to realize that when St. Francisco Álvares went to Ethiopia, he wasn’t going on a Christian Safari. He was going to the equivalent of my Michigan town. Ethiopia wasn’t some neat, exotic place to travel to, it was a place of loneliness, poverty, and distance from all that was known, familiar, and comfortable to him.

My little Michigan town is, perhaps, the absolute lowest on the list of places one wants to travel to. It is poor and distant from my family and friends in Ohio (even hostile at times to a natural-born Ohioan!). It was, consequently, lonely when I first came here, and certainly not comfortable.

As I began to put my situation next to the those of the saints, I slowly began to realize that my dream had, really, come true. As we live four hours away, I have in a sense, been asked to “give up” my friends and family, and live in a small town that in many ways, I didn’t at first want to be in. I consider my situation to be living at the ends of the earth in many ways. There is no good place to get a hair cut, no good date places, and we are surrounded by cornfields. Yet I am also living in a town that desperately needs love, mercy, and the Eucharist.

The ends of the earth aren’t in some far-away country. They are right here in our own nation. Africa isn’t the ends of the earth, Flint, Michigan, Hillsdale, Michigan, Cranks Creek, Kentucky, Harlingen, Texas and numerous other towns like them are. What’s more, the work the saints did wasn’t glorious in and of itself. It was – and still is – glorious because it made Christ present in the world in a place and a manner which He previously wasn’t.

That is glorious.

The work the saints did was really hard. It wasn’t, to them, the most romantic thing in the world. It probably stunk a lot of the time. No doubt, they asked themselves “am I really going to live the rest of my life here?” Yet knowledge that you are doing God’s will provides peace which surpasses such earthly discomfort.

Sometimes, it is really hard for me to be joyful or to believe that what I am doing is good and important. It is really hard to be away from a state, family, and friends that I love. Yet, holiness isn’t dependent on where you are, but rather who you are and how you respond to where God put you. Holiness isn’t about some misguided passion, it is about being passionate about your faith even in the smallest, most overlooked, most forgotten towns in America. Holiness is about trusting that God put you there for a purpose, and that if you can love this small town with great love, and do little things with great charity, then you’ve done more good than any mission trip you could have done to Australia. When it comes down to it, these humble towns and seemingly invisible callings do more for the development of humility, the interior life, trust in God, prayer, faith, hope, and love than any great work I could do elsewhere. Moreover, the peace and subtle, yet strong joy that comes from this town far surpasses any worldly comfort I could gain elsewhere. Indeed, I have fallen so hopelessly in love with this place that I wonder if I could ever leave, if given the choice. Indeed, how great is our consolation when we do the works of the Lord and allow Him to be present to us!

So, let us not be misguided by the shiny, exciting “calls” to Japan or India. No doubt, some are called there and God bless them. But for the rest of us, stuck with a “mediocre” calling in a boring old town, embrace it! The Lord has chosen you to go to the ends of the earth and make Him known there! The greatest adventures, and the greatest joy, await you right here, in the homes of your neighbors and the backyards of your neighborhoods.

radical-obedience

The Dignity of The Wolf of Wall Street

I enjoyed the movie The Wolf of Wall Street…sort of. Now, before I am put on trial and judged as being a terrible Catholic for such a statement, allow me to explain. Was the movie full of vulgarity and immorality? Absolutely. In fact, I’m having trouble thinking of another mainstream movie where I have seen with so much of it. I would certainly never allow my children to watch such a movie either. However, there is something that can be taken away from the movie other than its “evils.” There is such a profound sadness about the characters whose lives are ripped apart by addiction, but even more so the movie points to a reality of true poverty in our world today. I will attempt to give a brief synopsis appropriate for my audience.

The movie, as one could assume from the title, is about a stock broker. Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, it captures the career of Belfort from his first day on Wall Street to the day of his arrest for all sorts of corporate crimes. In the early scenes of the movie Belfort seems to be an honest young man.  Newly married, he is eager to start his new job and begin making money. Viewers can immediately tell that he has is talented. Belfort eventually starts his own trading company after learning how to make the most money on certain stock trades. He learns how to “play the system.”

What begins as a small operation out of a rented garage, becomes one of the largest most profitable organizations in the trading industry.  Belfort and a group of his buddies head the company and it isn’t long before they are consumed by their addictions. They become addicted to money, making money off of other people’s money. They become addicted to drugs and slaves to lust. His lifestyle, addictions, and lustful infidelity cost Belfort his marriage. Not too long after that, however, he remarries, giving his new wife a yacht as a wedding present. Needless to say, Belfort had more money than he knew what to do with.

The turning point for me while watching the movie (once I got past the absurdity of such a lifestyle) was when Belfort is approached by a certain FBI agent who was investigating Belfort’s company. After the meeting, Belfort begins the attempt to cover up his crimes and financial corruption. The FBI agent becomes hell-bent on taking Belfort down. The exchange between the FBI agent and Belfort would seem to be an illustration of how misconstrued the world can become when dealing with individuals.

On one hand you have men (and women) like Belfort, who compare themselves to others based on what they have-I have more money than you, a bigger house than you, a nicer car, etc. On the other hand you find a majority of viewers who would label men like Belfort as greedy, immoral, and deserving to rot in prison—men like the FBI agent who see criminals as lesser beings.

What’s interesting about movies and theater is that the audience can often find themselves routing for both the hero and the villain. There is a part of me that wanted Belfort to get away with everything while another part of me was glad that he was caught for being dishonest with such a vast amount of wealth. The bigger issue, I believe, is the forgotten dignity of individuals. For instance, to say that criminals are lesser beings because they have committed a crime is equally judgmental as saying someone is not as important due to their poverty or lack of possessions. When we take either stance, we are doing exactly what Christ instructed us not to do. We judge and we diminish the dignity of the human person.

Once I got beyond the vulgarities and immorality of the movie, I was struck with a deep sadness. For a fleeting moment I thought about what I would do with all of that money and how different my life would be if I didn’t have to worry about finances. Then the reality set in—this was a true story and there are real people who live like this. There is a serious problem with poverty in our world. In the United States, we think of poverty in terms of having and not having. Yet there is an even greater poverty among those who “have it all.” There is a poverty of spirit—a poverty of dignity. While it was sad to watch a man become consumed by things, it was also sad to watch a man treat another human being as a wild animal that needed to be caged. The God-given dignity of the human person is becoming lost, not just among those who do evil things, but by those who seek justice as well. We are called, now more than ever, to recognize the dignity each individual possesses.

There are many ways in which we can overcome this poverty. First and foremost, we must recognize our own dignity. We must come to understand that each man, woman and child is created in God’s image and likeness. Every man, woman, and child deserves to be loved and nothing less than that. This includes those in prison, those who suffer from addiction, those who are in nursing homes, those living on the streets, those unemployed, those with no one to care for them, and those “forgotten” by society.  This includes executives, bankers, teachers, custodians, chefs, realtors, steelworkers, and secretaries. Each and every human being from conception to natural death, is to be loved—by you and me.

Secondly, we must remind ourselves that we are all sinners. I am a sinner and I pray every day for the graces I need to be a better disciple of Christ. I must constantly remind myself that everyone is just as guilty as I am, which puts things in a greater perspective—who am I to judge them? Each person has their own struggles, their own crosses, and their own sins, which I pray they are attempting to overcome with the mercy and grace of Christ.

Finally, we must re-learn to love, daily if necessary. My spiritual director always uses the analogy of professional baseball players. When they are in a slump, what do they do? They return the basics, taking extra swings in batting practice and pulling out a tee (like they were in the beginning of their baseball careers) in attempts to relearn the basics. We too must return to the basics; return to the beginning. In the beginning God made man and woman in his image (Genesis 1:27). God placed man and woman over all other creatures. He gave them everything that He saw as “good.” He loved them into being and when they were unfaithful, He was faithful, even to the point of becoming one of us and dying on the cross for us. In that image we were created. It is that image that will take us out of a poverty of dignity to the richness of love.

Celebrating Christmas on the Streets

In the Philippines, while the well-to-do families feast on traditional ham, roasted suckling pig, steak, or turkey on Christmas Eve, many other people spend the night begging.

Way back in 2009, my friend Carlos had spiritual direction sessions with a priest famed for his work with the poor.  Carlos documented his own major spiritual experiences in writing and submitted it to the priest, who read it and said, “I am disturbed that despite living in a poor country, the poor scarcely have a place in your spiritual experiences.” Since then, Carlos prayed for a deep love for the poor and the opportunity to share his life with them.

God answered Carlos’ prayer by letting him work for two years in Tondo, Manila—the largest slum area in the Philippines—alongside a missionary.  There, Carlos encountered the worst kind of poverty, and started dreaming of ways to help the destitute celebrate Christmas.

In 2013, Carlos’ dream came true. With the help of his mother and his aunts, he spent the day of December 24 packing sandwiches, candies, chocolates, and juice. On Christmas Eve, his team went around in a van throughout several districts in the southern part of Quezon City seeking out small groups and families of poor people who were hiding in the street corners and expecting not to eat nor receive anything that night. His team gave food to a hundred people, referring to the food not as “tulong” (“help”) but as “handog” (“offering”) or “pamasko” (Christmas gift).

According to Carlos, his team were not the only ones that night doing it. As they drove around the streets, they saw some who had already received food from other passers-by and neighbours.  However, many more still received nothing and expected nothing. Carlos and his team gave food to these people.

“The most heart-warming to see were the smiles of the children,” Carlos says. “Simple “thank yous” also abounded, and these were more than enough. Most memorable for me were the startled eyes of a family that I gently woke up so I could give them some sandwiches.”

Carlos plans to repeat the project this year, and would like to spend more time with the loneliest families listening to their stories. He hopes more friends would join him in this project and that they could give food to more families. Above all, he hopes more people would, on their own, do the same thing next Christmas. However, he does not want that the project be “institutionalized.” “There is a place for institutional charity or mutual assistance, and there is also a place for small, spontaneous movements of kindness and sharing,” he said.

When I asked him for pictures of the project, he said he did not have any. Although he gave me permission to blog about the project, he emphasized that he normally does not speak publicly about his charitable efforts. Yet I believe that my friend’s story, and many other stories like it, deserves to be told—stories of ordinary Christians celebrating the birthday of Christ the way He would have wanted it.

Chosen by Jesus to Proclaim the Good News: One Filipino Family’s Call to Missionary Life

By Joseph Summers

Here at Family Missions Company (FMC) we are constantly blessed to see the transforming power of the Gospel! When our missionaries share God’s Word and Truth in sincere love for the poor whom they serve, God shows up and changes lives. This was the case last year, when Sammy and Lindsey Romero from Abbeville, with their two beautiful kids in tote, teamed up with Sarah Carroll from Carencro and a couple other single missionaries from FMC to bring the Gospel message to the poorest of the poor in Malaybalay, Philippines. God worked wonders through their “Yes” and used their witness to welcome 36 people into the Church through the waters of Baptism! The Leaño family is a living testimony to what authentic Catholic living can do, read their amazing story below:

Lay Catholic Missionary, Catholic Missions, Family Missions Company, Missionaries, Families, Gospel, Poverty, Preaching, Evangelization, Foreign Missions, Great Commission, Matthew 28, Jesus, Laity, Christian

Last year, we were invited to an Easter Sunday celebration by a group of FMC missionaries. We didn’t realize that God had planned that day to change our lives forever.

Before that day, we were so far from God. Both of us come from broken families without any Catholic foundation. I grew up exploring other religions, and Ramon never practiced any faith.

That same week we started attending a Bible study with the FMC missionaries. For the first time, we felt the Holy Spirit, and we realized that God’s words in the Bible are powerful and alive. We realized that it wasn’t too late to accept Jesus as our Savior and to invite him to rule over our lives. After that, we couldn’t stop praising Him and loving Him. We reconciled ourselves with Him, got our babies baptized, got confirmed, and got married in the Church all within a couple of months!

For the past year, we have been helping the FMC missionaries in the Philippines. Many of them have gone on to other missions, but we are always here to continue God’s will. We started Floors for the Poor with the Romero family, completed building and livelihood projects with the Eckstine family, and ministered in the jail and in the community with the Alvarez family. We also started a kids and youth ministry in our parish. We offered our family to God’s service however we could. Working in our hometown of Malaybalay has always been a blessing for us, but soon we realized that God was calling us out of our comfort zone to “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel” (Mark 16:15). We prayed a lot about it, and we have said YES!

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We recently participated in FMC’s Summer School of Missionary Evangelism in the Philippines, which reaffirmed our call to give our lives to becoming missionaries. Now we together with our two children are preparing to .

Family Missions Company is a ministry dedicated to spreading the gospel and serving the poor both here in Acadiana and globally. FMC trains and sends out singles and families, who have heard the call of Jesus to leave everything behind and follow him. Could God be calling you to bring His love to those far away?

Come and be inspired for missions at this year’s Proclaim Conference.

Watch the Promo: PROCLAIM 2013: the Catholic Missions Conference

Join us World Missions Sunday weekend, Oct. 18-20th at the Holiday Inn Convention Center, in Lafayette, LA for a weekend of inspiring talks, dynamics liturgies, and the encouragement YOU need to preach the Gospel to all creation! The conference will feature Archbishop Rivas, Ralph Martin, Deacon Ralph Poyo and more!

Register @ www.Proclaim2013.com

Proclaim reaches out to those who have never heard the Gospel message! It starts with your attendance. Every penny of profit from this conference will be used to spread the Gospel in Asia by supporting missionaries like the Leaño Family.

Proclaim seeks to stir up the Church’s missionary zeal, so that all Catholics will be inspired to live, share, and preach the Gospel! To learn more about the conference visit www.Proclaim2013.com or call 337.893.6111.

 

More than a Feeling: One Missionaries’ Honest Reflection in Calcutta

By Rebekah L.

Lay Catholic Missionary, Catholic Missions, Family Missions Company, Missionaries, Families, Gospel, Poverty, Preaching, Evangelization, Foreign Missions, Great Commission, Matthew 28, Jesus, Laity, ChristiI’ll let you in on a little secret. Missionaries aren’t always enthusiastically happy. We get tired and crabby. We lose our tempers. We inwardly groan when there’s one more knock at the door. Sometimes the last thing we feel like doing is leading another retreat or helping another beggar.

I was planning to write a wonderfully insightful, inspiring post about volunteering with the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta. Like how I experienced the intimate presence of God among the poorest of the poor. But He had a different lesson in store for me.

I’m weak. I’m selfish. I’m a mess. I need Him.

In Calcutta, I came face-to-face with my fickle emotions. We’re all familiar with the ups and downs of daily life. God originally planned for our spirit, mind, body, and will to work together in beautiful harmony. But when sin entered the world, this harmony was broken and our emotions became disordered. I feel this effect of sin every day. When the sun is shining, I’m all set to head to the after-school tutoring class in the slum. But give me a rainy afternoon, and it’s an uphill battle to drag myself out of the house. When I’ve had a good night sleep, spending an hour with Jesus is the highlight of my day. If I’m tired or annoyed, prayer feels like endless minutes ticking uselessly by.

Mother Teresa is one of my heroes. Her profound love for Jesus in the poor has inspired me for years. I’d dreamed of “Calcutta” as this larger-than-life place that instantly transforms people into saints. I was expecting to be filled with exalted angelic feelings as I worked in Nirmal Hriday, a home for the destitute and dying. Like somehow walking in Mother Teresa’s footsteps would imbue every action with deep significance.

Very quickly the rose-tinted glasses began to crack. My feelings were everything but holy and loving. I was tired. I was hot. I was completely overwhelmed by the crowded, noisy, polluted city. At Nirmal Hriday it was a struggle to keep my mind on the task at hand. I felt frustrated and inept. Yes, it was Christ who we served in these women, but I still gave an inward shudder at changing adult diapers, cleaning wounds, and wiping drool. I felt like I was doing “small things,” but without “great love.”

Lay Catholic Missionary, Catholic Missions, Family Missions Company, Missionaries, Families, Gospel, Poverty, Preaching, Evangelization, Foreign Missions, Great Commission, Matthew 28, Jesus, Laity, ChristiAs I prayed about what a mess I was, I read one of Mother Teresa’s quotes: “That we feel repugnance is but natural, but when we overcome it for love of Jesus we may become heroic.” Disliking diapers and drool was natural! It wasn’t a sign of failure. The key is what we do with the feelings of repugnance and discouragement. Do we call it quits or persevere? Are we consumed by our own weakness, or by God’s strength? The “small things” Mother Teresa talked about are usually monotonous, dirty, and unrewarding. But they’re the secret of holiness. Doing them anyways. Doing them when you don’t feel like it. Doing them with Jesus and for Jesus.

Lay Catholic Missionary, Catholic Missions, Family Missions Company, Missionaries, Families, Gospel, Poverty, Preaching, Evangelization, Foreign Missions, Great Commission, Matthew 28, Jesus, Laity, Christi What is great love? The world says that it’s a rush of warm, tender feelings. Christianity says that it’s the Cross. “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. God showed us that love is an action, a decision. It’s practiced in service and self-sacrifice. The saints unanimously agree that love and suffering go hand-in-hand. Sometimes God gives us feelings of consolation, sometimes He withholds them. It’s our actions, not our feelings, which are true indicators of love. This doesn’t mean that the Christian life is dark and dreary, though. Just the opposite; it’s full of light and joy! But the deep joy of knowing Christ is completely different from the passing emotional highs of the world.

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There’s great grace in choosing to love when tender feelings are absent.  The inconstancy of my emotions forces me to my knees. It reminds me that I’m weak and in desperate need of God’s strength.  My love will wax and wane, but His remains ever steadfast.

I went to Calcutta hoping to learn Mother Teresa’s secret. In an unexpected way, I did. Without Jesus, I’m nothing. As our weeks of service went on, I continued to offer Him all the little things, and ask Him to provide the love, patience, and perseverance that I lacked. I repeatedly prayed, “Jesus, I’m doing this because I love you. I need your help, your grace. I can’t do it on my own.” And He answered my prayers. Minute by minute, He gave me the strength and focus to actively choose to love.

By Rebekah L.

Living poverty

In the latest installment of USA Today’s On Religion series, veteran journalist Judith Valente writes about Benedictine nuns in Atchison, Kansas. One choice sentence: “Whatever slender thread is holding our planet together, preventing us from blowing each other apart, just might stem from the prayers of these monastic women and others like them across the world.”

I was startled to read that because I had almost the same thought myself while putting together my own piece about religious orders and the vow of poverty. But a tight word limit forced me to cut a lot of worthwhile material from that op-ed. So for your Easter-season edification and in honor of those whose prayers preserve the world, here follow some thought-provoking reflections on poverty, wealth, and faith from a few of today’s monastics.

*

First from Fr. Richard Roemer, CFR:

“In our community, we always have to live in a poor neighborhood, which keeps our contact (with the poor) close… Wealth seems to call for higher walls and longer driveways and more distance, whereas poverty that’s freely chosen helps to break down some of those barriers.”

St. Francis of Assisi saw poverty “as the condition for giving love and also receiving love… That means we need to be emptied of ourselves as well as of attachments to things, to be empty enough to receive God’s love and the love of others. And it’s also the condition – giving love means giving away ourselves. And St. Francis even meditated on how God is always emptying Himself, or giving of Himself, by His nature. He is always becoming poor.

“The common good is better for everybody… A culture of selfishness, individualism, looking out for number one is not good for the common good. It’s not good for the (market) economy and not good for the economy of love… Greed isolates us. Selfishness becomes loneliness.”

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From Fr. Peter Funk, OSB:

“Even when people don’t move around literally, the stuff we accumulate keeps our heart wandering in various ways. It can be source of technology – phones, the internet, that keep us in contact with people who aren’t actually present to us at the moment. We keep worrying about all kinds of stuff outside us that we can’t do anything about. Piling up stuff also keeps our desires wandering and searching about, never satisfied but always sort of wanting more.”

The vow of poverty “gives us an interior freedom to accept the world as it is, to accept my life and myself and my brothers as they are, and to move to a different plane of reality, really. To see what God is doing in the world, rather than what our desires are projecting onto it.”

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And from Sr. Giovanna Maria, SV:

“Mother Teresa used to say ‘Give until it hurts.’ So I think we’re supposed to stretch our hearts a little bit, to be open to giving even if it hurts a little bit, even if there is a pinch. Because that’s the test of love.”