15 October 2008

Spiritual Poverty -- Blog Action Day 2008

It seems appropriate, as we approach the Feast of our Holy Sister, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, that our contribution to the "Blog Action Day 2008" conversation about poverty touch on the often-misunderstood gift of spiritual poverty. It is not our intention to exhaust this rich topic; we hope, rather, to shed some light on what it might mean to be blessed because we are "poor of spirit" -- a poverty, it seems, which could impact the world one heart and one soul at a time.

For those of us who do not have to worry about having enough to eat, it is hard to pray "Give us this day our daily bread" and understand what it feels like to be needy. We have clothes on our back and food on our tables -- for which we should be grateful ... but are we spiritually self-sufficient, too? Are we so spiritually comfortable that we no longer need to ask for our daily bread?

Have you ever tried to put leftover mashed potatoes in a Tupperware that was just a bit too small? No matter how hard you try -- even if you get a cover that fits -- there are always some mashed potatoes that ooze out from under the lid. One learns the lesson that when something is FULL nothing can be added to it. And so it is with our spiritual lives: only when we stand empty before God can He fill us with Himself. When we are spiritually poor we are disposed to receive all that God wants to offer to us.

Maybe we have a family member with whom we have a strained relationship or perhaps we have a coworker with whom we have had a long-standing disagreement. If we are honest with ourselves, we probably have our own ideas about how we can manage these relationships. We might think we know how we should respond but we might feel unable to do so and so we find other means of negotiating these relationships. This is the beginning of spiritual poverty. The prayer of the spiritually poor person is: "Please, Lord, when I go to work today, help me to be loving to so-and-so. I am unable to do so on my own." There is no thought for tomorrow. There is no "savings account" for spiritual riches. The spiritually poor person asks, each day, for what he needs. Only when we stand naked and empty before the Lord and ask for all that we need can we be heirs to the kingdom of heaven.

"If you are in the depths of poverty, stripped of all and of self, go and lose yourself in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He will enrich you and take delight in clothing you with his own perfection if you allow him to act."
St. Margaret Mary

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