In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
My Lord, allow me please I beg you, to say a few little words, even if only of the smallest value, on this most beneficial and holy of topics. A soul as small and wretched as mine will most certainly struggle to say anything of use on such an important topic and therefore, my Lord I pray, You inspire anyone who reads this to seek out priests, bishops, and religious who are far more learned than I am regarding such a profound and divine subject. I am but a humble faithless soul who struggles herself daily against the temptations of this world, and therefore it is with a nervous hand that I seek to write on such a lofty topic. Guide my pen, I beg You my Heavenly Spouse, for without Your inspiration there is but nothing of value which a soul as wretched and vile as mine could ever hope to say upon this subject of spiritual poverty. For we Your servants sojourning here upon this earth the blessing of the love of holy poverty is of extreme benefit. May we gain, by Your grace, a true spirit of poverty – a poverty which is not one which oppresses your servants, although that poverty as well has its value to those who You have chosen to suffer material poverty for their spiritual benefit, but one which liberates we little souls from the entrapment and stares of the Devil. A spirit which frees us to worship You alone with our whole hearts, our whole minds, and our entire souls. Without the poverty of spirit we are left to be servants not of you, our Most Blessed Lord whom we should seek alone to give ourselves over to freely in loving slavery, but we become instead servants of money, of fame, of honors, awards, and accolades – we become, my Lord, servants of ego. We become nothing but servants of the world. We become servants of that master whom seeks only to tempt our souls away from the love of you, our most merciful Lord, and instead spend our days in love and worship of worldly pleasures and comforts. We can not serve two masters – we know this in our souls to be true for you have said it to us Yourself. Why is it then, Lord, that we can not free ourselves from the clutches of this world and instead seek out these temptations of the Devil; temptations which, perhaps, provide some vain and temporary material pleasure but for which we pay with our immortal souls? It is because we are but the weakest and most vile of souls that we trade eternity with You, our most blessed and merciful Lord, for a handful of gold upon the earth. Therefore, my Lord, My Savior, My hope, I beg you to bless all we your servants with hearts overflowing with a profound love of spiritual poverty. Give us the full knowledge, I beg you, of our vile and faithless natures so that we, who are most deserving of only your hatred and justice, may come to know that it is upon you alone, our Lord, whom we should depend for our salvation. It is you alone, and not our fellow men who are just as incapable of raising themselves as we, that we should seek to please – you who has in your infinite mercy for us seen fit to save us from the eternal punishment of Hell which we ourselves have no hope of meriting freedom from, and into which we by our very nature deserve to be cast for all eternity. It is by your mercy alone that we are redeemed. Let us not then seek the rewards, the accolades, the praises, or the benefits which come from a misguided love and seeking after the goods, pleasures, and reputation which can be gained from this world. The price is too high. My Lord, may we never fall into such a wretched state that we see the trade of eternal life in your arms as worth less than the praise of our fellow man. My God forbid this thought from ever entering the minds of your faithful servants. Keep us free, my lord I beg you most earnestly, we little souls who desperately wish to see your face in Heaven, from ever desiring rewards and praises of this world. Let us, knowing fully our wretchedness, seek to be seen by nobody but you, our dearest Lord – and this let us do only with the greatest humility and in a spirit of service and praise. Keep us in our lives seeking to bring glory to you alone through our actions. Let us never seek worldly honors by the use of what little and humble talents You have found fitting to bestow upon us, our Lord, as these You have given to us for a single purpose – to serve and bring glory to You, our Blessed and Merciful Lord. Therefore, let us never, my Lord I pray, seek to dishonor You by seeking to honor ourselves. Bless us with truly humble hearts and fill us with the spirit of true and holy poverty so that we shall never be made slaves to the Enemy. Thusly fortified, my Lord, we shall be set free upon the world as your servants and soldiers and will be strengthened in the warfare being constantly waged against Satan, his minions, and those unrepentant souls whom He as beguiled and corrupted into His most unholy service. Clothe us in the armor of holy humility and arm us with the sword of spiritual poverty and we shall be an army of servants for the Lord against which the enemy and his minions shall never prevail! Thusly fortified we shall be capable, with your Grace our Lord, of resisting even the harshest attacks of the Devil. May we all, your little and timid servants, come to know the true freedom that comes from loving you alone and may we never seek the pleasures given by anyone but you, our Holy Spouse in heaven. Amen
[Post writing note: I should like to say that I found this a very difficult letter to write. I am but a small and humble soul so writing about such lofty topics as virtue and poverty does not come easy. I am but a struggling sinner who is not blessed with any incredible graces or knowledge. I struggle daily to keep myself from falling into sin and temptation, and so it is only after many days of praying and asking God to remove from me the inspiration to write on this topic that I sit down today to compose this letter. If there is anything of value within it is by His grace alone as I could never hope to write anything useful on such a divine topic. If there are any errors however, of which I imagine there are plenty, may they serve to expose my wretchedness and ignorance in relation to such sublime topics and serve to remind all who read this that I am noting but a faithless sinner who is incapable of any good whatsoever. It is with this declaration that I share this letter today. End post writing note.]
Brothers and sisters in Christ, today I am writing to you what little the Lord has blessed me to know about the subject of holy poverty. Many great and holy men and women have written much more profound and beneficial works dealing with this subject and I implore you to seek these out as they will be far more beneficial than anything I could hope to produce. Like many, I still struggle daily against the temptations of the world. My understanding of such an important virtue is lacking due to my very nature as an imperfect soul; however, with the help of God alone, I do hope to share with you some thoughts specifically relating to how we little souls who find ourselves incapable of soaring with spiritual giants may also, in our most humble efforts to live lives fitting to our Blessed Lord, respond to the calling from God that all of us seek to live lives worth of receiving the great grace of love of poverty. Before we can love we must know, and therefore let us together seek to know how we little and wretched souls may begin to take our first steps towards the freedom offered to us by the yoke of holy and divine poverty.
I should like to note that when I speak of poverty throughout this letter I am always referring to spiritual poverty, not material poverty. While a materialistically simple life, I believe, is indeed commendable it is not this type of poverty which benefits us most. Certainly, an increase in material poverty often accompanies the journey into spiritual poverty; however, this is because as one begins to desire less the meaningless honors and prideful prestige which come with seeking after the approval of other creatures ones heart begins to rest in the peace found within the servant who finds their peace in the honors and glory given to their master. When a slave seeks not their own glory but that of their master will not their master then give to them the keys to all of their resources? Will not this master love more his servant? When we cease the egotistical obsession of our concern for our reputations and seek only to use our lives to bring glory and honor to our Lord He, who is a more just master than any creature could ever hope to be, will give to us all that is required to bring about His glory through us. When the will of the slave is the will of the Lord all that the slave receives from the master is all that the slave could desire. We in our selfish and fallen natures serve what brings to us that which we most desire. When we think ourselves worthy of praise and honor, and in our sinfulness set out to gain these for ourselves, we must then serve those from whom worldly honor, praise, and glory come. It is not temporary worldly glory that our Lord wishes to give to us – although, if He deems it necessary for us to have these things in order to serve Him better He will certainly give it, and we ought to accept that fact with humble hearts – but it is eternal reward and honor He wishes to give us in the world to come. Those who are poor in spirit, who know themselves to be undeserving of any honor and praise, those who know just how impossible it would be for them to earn salvation for themselves without the most perfect Sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, those who seek not to live for their own glory but for the glory of their Lord are truly souls blessed with the grace of spiritual poverty.
Let us all, my Lord I pray, seek to live lives which hold ourselves in no esteem whatsoever over any other creature which You have created, but let us instead, my Lord I beg You, see the great honor we receive in seeking not glory for ourselves but for You, Our Blessed Lord. Let us all be firm in our resolution that the only things in this life which we shall find comforting are those which bring to You the greatest honor and which make us the most despised by those who seek to live in the world without loving you, our God. Let us not seek to be loved by others unless it bring others to love You more still. Let us not seek honor for ourselves unless through doing so we are able to bring You even greater honor. Let us not seek the rewards of this life unless by having them we are able to put them to use towards increasing love, respect, and reverence for you, our most Blessed Jesus. May we never find ourselves deceived by Satan into believing that anything in this world can be a greater reward than that infinitely wonderful reward You have promised for us in Heaven – to gaze upon Your Adorable face, to see God with our own eyes. My Lord may the hearts of your servants pine for nothing else but this most divine gift of being with You in Your Heavenly Kingdom. May we, I pray, be taken into the purifying embrace of Your Most holy and blessed Mother and may She form us, by Your Grace, into fitting servants of You upon the earth so that we may live our lives in a way which You may call others into Your Spiritual Family. May we not be seen, but only You our Lord. Keep us ever filled with the spirit of poverty, bless us with the knowledge of our true wretchedness, and free us from a life of servitude to the world which holds for us not a single reward which we must not leave behind when You finally call us home. Let us keep our hearts set upon you, and knowing our true poverty of any power to perform any good on our own account trust only in You, our Lord. May we never seek to glorify ourselves but to glorify only You, our God, in the way in which we live our lives. Bless us with the courage to turn away from the temptations of attachment to worldly honor, praise, and riches – let us not, my Lord I beg You, think these worthy of seeking out – but let us know fully that anything good which we may have done which may merit these worldly and meaningless honors happens only by Your grace. May we then, my Lord, always be found offering these honors to You so that others may come to know, to love, and to themselves live lives which bring glory to You. If one soul should find themselves drawn to You through the life of one of Your devoted little souls it would be the greatest blessing You could bestow upon it. May we then, my Lord I pray, hope for nothing more than to be a little soul through which You bring others into Your flock. Amen.
Therefore, Brothers and Sisters, a little soul is poor in spirit when it knows just how little it is. When it seeks only to live in the world in order to glorify its Lord. Many of us find ourselves working long hours, taking on countless commitments, or sacrificing the morals and teachings of our Lord which we know to be true so that we can get a promotion at work and earn more money, so that we can gain the respect of the other parents at our children’s school, or so that we can become friends or gain the respect of someone we feel can help us further our materialistically driven goals. However, in order to meet these many commitments we spend less time reading beneficial spiritual books, to impress that new supervisor we miss Mass on Sunday to attend a golf outing, or to gain favor with an influential person we attend a rally for Abortion because we know standing up for the value of human life will cause us to be socially ostracized. This is all disordered thinking my dearest brothers, my dear sisters. Let us never fall into this, and if we should find ourselves doing so let us swiftly correct ourselves back onto the right path. We must seek the favor, the love, and the relationship of only our Lord. All else we do ought to serve Him. This does not mean we can not enjoy recreation – as recreation refreshes us and allows us to return to our true work with renewed zeal – and this does not mean we must all be hermits living without friends or family – indeed, it is through interacting with, loving, and building relationships with others that most people come to know better how to interact with, love, and build a relationship with our Blessed Lord. What this means is that we ought to never think ourselves spiritual giants or creatures deserving innately any honor or praise above any other creature – truly, when we come to know ourselves it is impossible to desire any honor or praise whatsoever unless it be directed not to us but to the works the Lord has worked through we little souls. We ought to desire to become Saints – this is not opposed to spiritual poverty – but we must not desire to become Saints so that others may praise us. We must desire to do so only to please God. This is true in all other aspects of our lives my brothers and sisters in Christ. If we are successful in winning a promotion it must be so that we can serve God better through that promotion; however, it should not be earned in a way which causes us to neglect our obligations to our Lord. If we do this – even if we have convinced ourselves that we are missing Mass because it will, in the end, glorify God – we can not hope to be successful. It would be better that we not receive the award and instead use the resources with which we have already been blessed to bring honor to our Lord. If we must break our commitments to God in order to earn the reward or praises offered by some worldly commitments it is not God who wishes us to have those rewards, but our egos at best and the enemy at worst. God shall never ask of you that which causes you to act wrongly towards Him. He may allow the devil to tempt you with these thoughts and ideas, but this is for your spiritual benefit. Resist the enemy firmly. Never allow yourselves to be deceived by the enemy into thinking that you will be worse off if you do not neglect your Lord. In the words of St. Teresa of Avila:[Begin Quote: ]“Leave this worrying to the One who can move all, for He is the Lord of money and of those who earn money. By His command we came here. His words are true; they cannot fail; rather, heaven and earth will fail. Let us not fail Him; do not fear that He will fail you. And if sometime he should fail you, it will be for a greater good. The lives of the saints failed when they were killed because of the Lord, but this happened so that through martyrdom their glory would be increased. It would be a good exchange to give up everything for the enjoyment of everlasting abundance.” [End Quote.]
All of us must live in the world, and therefore we must all find a way to survive in this world. However, we must not depend upon ourselves, but upon our Lord. We must be happy with the lot He has deemed proper for us to lead in our exile upon this earth, and we must accept that those things which we can not attain without breaking his commandments, without sacrificing our souls, are not good for us. If he intended for us to have them he would make them achievable within the bounds of his narrow and perfect path. For some this world feels, rightly so, as if it is but a passing moment, yet for others who have allowed themselves to be deceived – or who have outright rejected the truths given to us by Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – the temporary life upon this earth begins to become an illusion which appears to be the only worthy goal for which they ought to strive. However, those who seek only the world find themselves in an loosing battle against the enemy, Satan, who wishes to beguile them by distorting and misusing the very goodness of creation which our Lord has given to us for our benefit. The devil temps we weak and feeble souls with promises of worldly reward and pleasure, honor and esteem from our peers, and titles and material wealth unimaginable. However, he need only temp us long enough that we allow ourselves to turn – even if but for a moment – from the path set firmly before us by our Lord and Savior that we fall into one of his traps. It is not at once, at least it is not typically, that one falls instantly from a life devoted to our Blessed Lord into one of debauchery, sin, and vice. [Post writing note: I should like to note, however, that in the modern culture which is ravaged by the heresies of modernism, relativism, gnosticism, and other atrocious philosophies which have infiltrated into the social culture this falling into a life of vile sin and wretchedness can, indeed, take place quite quickly. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we must guard ourselves ever more vigilantly if we hope to live lives worthy of being offered in union with the sacrifice of our Blessed Lord on Calvary. It is of the utmost import that we, especially in these times when society itself has seemed to have turned against us, take up our crosses with a firm resolve to act as witnesses of our Lord – our Lord who Himself faced unthinkable persecution and atrocious crimes at the hands of His society – if we hope to, by His Grace, enter into His Kingdom. End post writing note.] Instead, it is by slow conditioning that we weak and faithless sinners are worn down by the enemy and led to believe the greatest, and indeed the most harmful, lies ever told to mankind:
The First Lie of the Enemy: that through sin and disobedience we can find greater pleasure than that which is the reward of a life of prayer, fasting, and obedience to our Lord.
This was our Original Sin. We trusted the temptations of the enemy when he used the beauty of Gods creation to encourage us to misuse the objects of His creation. It was because the fruit appeared beautiful and good that Eve, enticed and further encouraged by the whispering of the serpent to think that which was contrary to Gods commands to be true, that she, and then Adam, ate the forbidden fruit. All which God has created is certainly good as it would not befit Gods perfect nature to create that which was evil; however, God gave us free will. We are free to take what is good as use it for evil. It is that same gift which allows us the ability to say yes to God which also allows us to cry out no in rebellion. It is when we choose to misuse or abuse that which God has given to us that we, in our depraved, natures find ourselves falling into sin – this also includes overuse or indulgence of that which God created in order to bring us some sort of pleasure or comfort in this world as what may be harmless in moderation or through proper use may become incredibly addictive or dangerous for us after extreme or improper use.
For little souls like us, who are so weak and prone to falling into temptation, must remain humbly satisfied with that which God has deemed it rightful for us to have. We must not, as Adam and Eve allowed themselves to do, become convinced that we are entitled to anything more that precisely that which God has, in His infinite wisdom, deemed beneficial and sufficient for our spiritual benefit. We must, so to speak, live within our spiritual means. If God places one who is prone to egotism in a life which requires humble service that soul, if it remains true to the commands of God and lusts not after that which God has not deemed necessary and sufficient for its spiritual benefit, need not fear that it will be lost; however, if this soul acts disobediently breaking Gods commands to seek after that which God has deemed unfitting for it to have – if this soul, perhaps, misses Sunday Mass in order to advance in some worldly affair like a career and does not repent quickly – this soul places itself in a very dangerous position. It is gambling with its very eternal life. If this soul had remained poor in spirit it would have humbly accepted that which God had deemed fitting for it knowing full well it deserved not even that by its own merit, and it would have found contentment and security upon earth and been granted the greatest rewards in Heaven.
Let us not, my brothers and sisters, allow ourselves to take these first steps of spiritual pride. Protecting ourselves begins with trusting entirely in God – it begins not in protecting ourselves, but allowing ourselves to be protected by God and His Church. We must be poor in spirit. We must know fully that it is not through ourselves that we come to salvation but in the uniting ourselves, by the Grace of God, to that most perfect sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ on Calvary – the true and only source of our salvation. When we are firmly rooted in the teachings of His Holy and Catholic Church, when we live our lives in conformity with His Will and Commandments for us, when we humble ourselves to the truth that it is He who knows for us what is best as it was He who created us, if we keep ourselves vigilant against acting upon – if we protect our minds from thinking of – that which is harmful to us and against that which God has deemed to be good for us then we need not worry in our temporary and short sojourning here upon earth. That is the great peace our Lord grants to those who are truly poor in spirit. However, if we allow Satan to take root in our minds through our actively entertaining those thoughts which enter by the subtle urging of the enemy, if we allow him to take root in our lives through our giving into temptation thinking that we – who are but vile, wretched, and sinful creatures – know better than God who is all knowing what is good for ourselves then we will certainly be at risk of loosing our immortal souls. Let us not trade eternal salvation for a temporary reward. Let us not loose the gates of our minds to the forces of the enemy for it is through these most subtle of means that he begins to entice us to believe his other lies.
The Second Lie of the Enemy: that the only goal to which we ought to strive is to earn the praise and acceptance of other creatures.
The Third Lie of the Enemy: that having won the acceptance of others we shall receive money, honor, and fame which the enemy wishes to deceive us into believing are the true rewards of a life well lived.
If we allow ourselves to lose our trust in God, and instead we place our trust in ourselves we will begin to seek that which maintains this physical and material body as the main object of life. If we are the ones responsible for our own destiny – if we do not believe that God is the source of all which is good in our lives, but instead allow ourselves to mistakenly attribute our successes and blessings to our own actions – we will begin to believe that worship of the self is more important that worship of our Lord. Why would we, if we believe that God played little to no role in our earthly success – and may God forbid this from ever being a thought which enters our minds in any fashion other than to allow us to conquer it immediately and therefore grow in faith – live a life devoted to bringing Him honor and glory and not ourselves? It is this depraved and misguided thinking which leads to our further down fall and our eventual loss of our salvation.
Those who worship the world will seek that which can give them a greater portion of the world. Therefore, those who fall into these wicked thoughts will be motivated to seek money, fame, honor, and glory not so they can use these gifts and blessings from our Lord to increase honor and praise for our God on earth, but so they can increase the honor and praise given to themselves. This is a most distorted belief. When this happens the acceptance of other creatures – who in this disordered thinking are, along with only ourselves, the sources of our money and success – begins to matter more to us than living lives which give pleasure to God. This is when we begin to find ourselves afraid to uphold those obligations, or profess the truths, which God has deemed right for us to do and believe. We will compromise our obligation to cease from work on Sundays and to attend Mass in order to take on another shift at work to gain more material wealth. Perhaps we will support a decision by our friends to attend an abortion rally because we do not wish to ostracize ourselves from our worldly friends believing these relationships to be more important than our relationship with our Blessed Lord.
Why would we not make these compromises if we thought ourselves to be more important than God – if we thought ourselves more worthy of praise for the use of His gifts that He Himself who bestowed them upon us in order to live lives which bring Him alone honor and Glory. The friends are here now, urging us to come with them. God is in Church down the road, calling for us to come to His table with our spiritual family on earth and in heaven. How easily is it, once we have lost sight of what truly matters in this world, that the voice of God begins to become only a faint whisper under the clamor of our friends, the pull of worldly obligations, and our selfish desires for honor, fame, money, and praise. Eventually, we may even cease to hear the call of God entirely – although, for those who repent, He is always eager to have them back in His Church.
My brothers and sisters, let us then always remember that if we loose the spirit of poverty we certainly can not hope to have progressed in the virtue of humility. One who is humble and poor in spirit seeks only to glorify God and thinks not about what glory they themselves may earn from their actions. These souls need not worry or feel alarmed if God bestows upon them the blessing of material success. A soul who thinks thusly will never consider doing anything other than using these gifts to bring further glory to its God. However, a soul who knows not humility and lives not a life of spiritual poverty – one who has not come to know, or who refuses to believe, their true inability to do anything good whatsoever by their own power – ought to run quickly away from the goods of this world rejecting all honors, praises, and riches for they are dangerous to him; a soul ought to spend its time in unceasing prayer to their Lord begging Him – from whom alone the great grace of true knowledge of self comes – to place in their heart and mind the full knowledge of their wretchedness, and place within them a spirit of obedience and absolute reliance upon our Lord. Only after one has been blessed with a true spirit of poverty can one hope to truly free themselves from the slavery of the world and the devil. Our souls serve what our hearts and minds love. If our hearts love the world we shall live in bondage to the world and we shall receive only the temporary rewards given by the kings of the world. If our hearts love only Christ we shall live in bondage to Christ and be rewarded by the King of Heaven Himself with the eternal reward of life with Him whom alone our hearts should long to live.
My Lord, I beg You most urgently, to send upon we Your little servants a love of holy poverty so that we may become truly free from any master other than You from whom we would never wish to be free. May you bless us all with humble hearts and with the knowledge of our own helplessness, and may You keep us from ever thinking that we wretched and vile creatures deserve any honors, praise, or glory for ourselves whatsoever. Instead, my Lord I pray, let us live lives in which we are not visible except that You may use us to bring You more Glory and to, by Your Grace alone, live lives which are fruitful witnesses of Your promise of Salvation in order that, through us, You may win souls to Your Kingdom. My God, if only we were worthy to be blessed with a life through which even one soul is saved what a sublime reward that would be to such little and humble souls. Let us not fall into the temptations of the devil, my God, and may you keep us always satisfied with only that which you have deemed necessary for our salvation and spiritual benefit. Keep us always, my Lord I beg you, from thinking ourselves entitled to any more gifts or rewards than those which come from You due to some skill or talent You have deemed necessary for us to have. Truly, any good you allow and inspire us to perform – for indeed, any good that comes from us comes only from You, my God – is done so You may be glorified on earth through us. Let us always humbly remember that it is not ourselves whom we should seek to place in the eyes and regards of others, but only You, our Lord, who alone is deserving of all honor, of all glory, and of all praise. Keep us always faithful servants of You, our Lord and Savior, and let us never think ourselves so lofty as to step even for a movement from the path which You – in your infinite wisdom – have blazed perfectly for each and every one of Your creatures before we come into this world. Let us always be filled with faith and trust in You so that we may always say yes to Your call. Just as you humbly and willingly allowed yourself to suffer the great trials and atrocities of your Passion – persecution, suffering, and humiliation none of we little souls could ever hope to endure – may we accept the ever lighter burden of those crosses you have deemed us worthy to bear in union with You, our Lord and savior. May You keep us always, my Lord I beg you, from ever seeking to reach for more than that which You know to be good for us, and may always live lives, fortified by unwavering love of poverty, safe from the temptations of the enemy. Keep our eyes always fixed firmly upon You, my Lord, and there is nothing we should fear; but if our eyes should fall upon those riches and allures of the world we are but helpless flies drawn towards the incinerating heat of the lamp. Keep us always protected from the dangers of this world by fortifying our souls with grace of humility and wrap our hearts in the protective love of spiritual poverty. Amen.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, let us close today’s letter with a prayer from the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary and ask our Lord to take from us all thoughts which tell us we are able to accomplish any good by our own merits. Instead, let us turn trustingly, lovingly, and humbly to him with souls full of the love of poverty of spirit – knowing fully our reliance upon Our Lord for our salvation – in prayer. Let us beg Him to forgive us for any time we have acted egotistically and without humility attributing to ourselves some honor or glory which was truly and rightly due only to Him. Let us, then, pray together my dear brothers and sisters:
Forgive, O Lord, we beseech Thee, the sins of Thy servants; so that we who cannot become pleasing to Thee from our own actions, may be saved by the pleading of the Mother of They Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.