Friday, January 19, 2018

Pages from the Past: The Vow of Poverty

From 2013. Six months after Mom died, the family was dealing with the estate.

Statue of St Francis on a hilltop in Assisi.
I keep referring to the vows in an objective way, rather than seeing them above all in their relational nature, especially poverty, which I seem to have the hardest time understanding, appreciating and observing "richly." But see St Francis: his poverty; his understanding of poverty was above all relational: "to be poor with the poor Christ." This could be a helpful avenue to renew me in the observance of the evangelical counsels. 

If the vows do not conform me more to Jesus, constitute a communion with his own life, how can they really be evangelical—much less “evangelizing”?

(next day)
“The foxes have dens, the birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place…” Now, neither do I, since Mom’s house has just been appraised with serious structural problems so that we can only hope to sell it “as is.” With that, I no longer have a “home” to go home to. I am invited, after 35 years of profession, to “leave home…and follow” Jesus in a new way. Rather, “home, father and mother” have all left me—left me bereft—but also left me free to “follow the Lamb wherever he goes.”

This sort of connects with yesterday’s reflection on the relational dimension of the vows, especially poverty. Suddenly poverty is revealed as very relational indeed. “My God and my all.”

It is a grace to have this earthly foothold taken away from me while I am on retreat and not while I am trying to accomplish something else. What this whole situation opens up to me (and threatens me with) is a new and more fruitful experience of poverty; what it means to follow a poor Christ.

Lord, help me to receive this instead as a chance to make my dwelling in you; for you to be my rock, my reference point, my place from which I “go in and out and find pasture.” My real home.

The lot marked out for me is my delight;
Welcome indeed the heritage that falls to me.

You are my inheritance, O Lord.
You are my portion from this estate.

I have definitely been given the best part.

"Pages from the Past" are randomish excerpts from my old journals. I process things in writing, so there were a lot of volumes, but here and there I found notes that were still pertinent or helpful. I got rid of the books (hello, shredder!) and typed up the things I wanted to save, whether for myself (mostly) or to share. 

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