Book Talk Tuesday, Introduction to the Devout Life, Part 3, Chapter 16
CHAPTER XVI. How to possess a rich Spirit amid real Poverty.
BUT if you are really poor, my daughter, for God’s Sake be so in
spirit; make a virtue of necessity, and turn that precious stone
poverty to its true value. The brilliancy thereof is not perceived in
this world, but nevertheless it is very great.
Patience then! you are in good company. Our Dear Lord, Our Lady, the
Apostles, numberless Saints, both men and women, were poor, and
although they might have been rich, disdained to be so. How many great
ones of this world have gone through many difficulties to seek holy
poverty amid hospitals and cloisters! What pains they took to find it,
let S. Alexis, S. Paula, S. Paulinus, S. Angela, and many another
witness; whereas to you, my child, it has come unasked–you have met
poverty without seeking it–do you then embrace it as the beloved
friend of Jesus Christ, Who was born, lived and died in poverty, and
cherished it all His Life.
There are two great privileges connected with your poverty, through
which you may acquire great merit. First, it is not your own choice,
but God’s Will alone, which has made you poor. Now, whatever we accept
simply because it is God’s Will is acceptable in His Sight, so long as
we accept it heartily and out of love:–the less of self the more of
God,–and a singlehearted acceptance of God’s Will purifies any
suffering very greatly.
The second privilege is, that this poverty is so very poor. There is a
be-praised, caressed poverty, so petted and cared for, that it can
hardly be called poor like the despised, contemned, neglected poverty
which also exists. Now, most secular poverty is of this last kind, for
those who are involuntarily poor, and cannot help themselves, are not
much thought of, and for that very reason their poverty is poorer than
that of religious, although religious poverty has a very special and
excellent grace, through the intention and the vow by which it is
Do not complain then of your poverty, my daughter,–we only complain of
that which is unwelcome, and if poverty is unwelcome to you, you are no
longer poor in spirit. Do not fret under such assistance as is needful;
therein lies one great grace of poverty. It were overambitious to aim
at being poor without suffering any inconvenience, in other words, to
have the credit of poverty and the convenience of riches.
Do not be ashamed of being poor, or of asking alms. Receive what is
given you with humility, and accept a refusal meekly. Frequently call
to mind Our Lady’s journey into Egypt with her Holy Child, and of all
the poverty, contempt and suffering they endured. If you follow their
example you will indeed be rich amid your poverty.