Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Franciscan Poverty is Mystical/Sacramental

NOTE: I just finished reading The First Encounter With Francis of Assisi by Damien Vorreux.  This is a beautiful introduction to the life and thought of Our Holy Father Saint Francis and a quick read (73 pages).  But the beautiful language really struck me and got me thinking about the Franciscan view of poverty in a whole new way. Here are some thoughts that are stuck with me today from this work:

People often ask about the Franciscan approach to poverty and how we live out the vow.

For St. Francis, poverty was not something ascetical or stoic, it was something mystical.  Poverty is not ascetical; not an attempt to simply live a life of external lack; not a mere superficial attempt to have less or nothing.

Poverty is not stoic or apostolic; a freeing of oneself to be available to love more; to love chastely or to be apostolically available for ministry.  These are all good things, but this is not poverty for St. Francis.

For the Saint, poverty is mystical.  Poverty, like all things, are an opportunity to conform your life to the life of Christ - this time a conformity to the Poor Christ.  Poverty, then is sacramental, even Eucharistic.  Just as in the Eucharist, "we become what we receive," so too our mystical pursuit of poverty we become more like Christ as we imitate Him in His poverty.  St. Francis contemplates and imitates the Christ whom he loves as he lives a poverty that is not on the outside, but is on the inside transforming and changing him as every mystical or sacramental moment ultimately does.  That is Franciscan poverty.

- FT

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