We will wholeheartedly love poverty

If we are close to Christ and are following in his footsteps, we will wholeheartedly love poverty, privation and detachment from earthly things. – St Josemaria, The Forge

How do you think Our Lord dressed? Haven’t you pictured to yourself the dignity with which he wore his seamless cloak which had probably been woven for him by Our Lady? Don’t you remember how, in Simon’s house, he was grieved because he had not been offered water to wash his hands before taking his place at the table? (cf Luke 7:36‑50)

No doubt he drew attention to this example of bad manners to underline his teaching that love is shown in little details. But he also wants to make it clear that he stands by the social customs of his time, and therefore you and I must make an effort to be detached from the goods and comforts of the world, but without doing anything that looks odd or peculiar.

As far as I am concerned, one of the signs that we’re aware of being lords of the earth and God’s faithful administrators is the care we take of the things we use: keeping them in good condition, making them last and getting the best out of them so that they serve their purpose for as long a time as possible and don’t go to waste.

– St Josemaria, Friends of God

Memorial of St Clare

Detail depicting St Clare from a fresco by Simone Martini in the Lower basilica of San Francesco in Italy
Detail depicting St Clare from a fresco by Simone Martini in the Lower basilica of San Francesco in Italy

Today is the momorial of St Clare of Assisi. The Breviary says of her: “Following the example of St. Francis, she distributed all her possessions among the poor. She fled from the noise of the world and betook herself to a country chapel, where St. Francis himself sheared off her hair and clothed her with a penitential garb (on March 18, 1212, at the age of eighteen). Then she resided at the Church of St. Damian, where the Lord provided for her a goodly number of companions. So she established a community of nuns and acted as their superior at the wish of St Francis. For forty-two years she directed the nunnery with zeal and prudence, her own life serving as a constant sermon for her sisters to emulate. Of Pope Innocent IV she requested the privilege that she and her community live in absolute poverty. She was a most perfect follower of St. Francis of Assisi.”When the Saracens were besieging Assisi and were preparing to attack the convent, St. Clare asked to be assisted as far as the entrance, for she was ill. In her hand she carried a vessel containing the blessed Eucharist as she prayed: O Lord, do not deliver over to beasts the souls that praise You! (Ps. 73). Protect Your servants, for You have redeemed them by Your precious Blood. And in the midst of that prayer a voice was heard, saying: Always will I protect you ! The Saracens took to flight.”

Heroic in suffering (she was sick for twenty-seven years), she was canonized only two years after her death.

Prayer for St Clare

Today is the memorial of St Clare of Assisi, a virgin who was the first woman to practice the life of entire poverty as taught by St Francis.

Prayer: O God, who in your mercy led Saint Clare to a love of poverty, grant, through her intercession, that, following Christ in poverty of spirit, we may merit to contemplate you one day in the heavenly Kingdom. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Don’t forget it: he has most who needs least. Don’t create needs for yourself.

Don’t forget it: he has most who needs least. Don’t create needs for yourself. Detach yourself from the goods of the world. Love and practise poverty of spirit: be content with what enables you to live a simple and sober life. Otherwise, you will never be an apostle. Rather than in not having, true poverty consists in being detached, in voluntarily renouncing one’s dominion over things. That is why there are poor who are really rich. And vice-versa. You haven’t got the spirit of poverty if, when you are able to choose in such a way that your choice is not noticed, you do not select for yourself what is worst.

– St Josemaria, The Way

Why does Jesus want there to be Christians who live their whole lives in poverty, unmarried chastity, and obedience?

God is love. He longs for our love also. One form of loving surrender to God is to live as Jesus did – poor, chaste, and obedient. Someone who lives in this way has head, heart, and hands free for God and neighbor.

In every age individual Christians let themselves be completely taken over by Jesus, so that “for the sake of the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 19:12) they give everything away for God – even such wonderful gifts as their own property, self-determination, and married love. This life according to the evangelical counsels in poverty, chastity, and obedience shows all Christians that the world is not everything. Only an encounter with the divine Bridegroom “face to face” will ultimately make a person happy.

Feast of St Bernadette

St Bernadette
St Bernadette

Today is Thursday of the Second Week of Easter, but it is also the Feast of St. Bernadette. Bernadette, Marie-Bernade Soubirous from her real name, received several apparitions of the Immaculate Conception in 1858 in France. The Virgin Mary led her to a water source that is said to have healing powers. A sanctuary has been built at this location and is visited annually by 6 millions pilgrims.

 

St Bernadette is the patron of bodily ills, illness, Lourdes, people ridiculed for their piety, poverty, shepherdesses, shepherds, sick people and sickness.