“We offer Thee, O Child Jesus, this third decade in honor of Thy Blessed Nativity, and we ask of Thee, through this Mystery and through the intercession of Thy Blessed Mother, detachment from the things of this world, love of poverty and love of the poor.” (St. Louis de Montfort)
To ask for a detachment from things of this world is probably difficult for many people. Rising credit card debt proves that this is so. Our society is addicted to material goods and instant gratification. It is almost as though we think we can actually bring our stuff with us when we die. We spend money we don’t have on things we don’t need, and spend even more money taking care of these things, or worse, renting storage facilities to hold on to these things for us while we acquire even more! It boggles the mind. Yet most people have a hard time grasping the concept of actually asking to be relieved of such a lifestyle. It is not, I think, that they are happy in the hoarding mentality in which they live. Rather I think it is because they have not been shown or encouraged to live any other way.
And what of this love of poverty? How can we love something so vilified in our society? We can love it because Jesus loved it. St. Alphonsus de Ligouri gives us a most profound thought to meditate on. He states that while poverty cannot be found in Heaven, it is something valuable to obtain while we are here. It is so precious in the eyes of our Lord, He chose poverty to be His constant companion throughout His entire earthly life, that we all may learn about it and embrace it as well. For with poverty comes clarity of purpose. We are no longer blinded by the storm of clutter swirling around us, but are able to see where we are headed and what riches lie waiting for us in Heaven.
And finally, St. Louis suggests we ask for a love of the poor. Many people tend to blame the poor for their condition. Yet this is not the attitude Christ had, so we should not either. We never can be sure what crosses Our Lord gives to others that result in their poverty. But we can make sure we ourselves are never an additional cross to those closest to Him. Find ways of expressing compassion to the poor and you will see Christ shine through them.
When I worked in the corporate world in Chicago, I passed by a homeless man on my way to the train station every day. “Sweet William” was elderly and blind with a liver condition that caused him great pain. Yet he was the most joyful person I had ever met. He had such a deep and unwavering love of God, it shamed me when I considered all the material blessings I had received yet seemed so ungrateful for. And despite his blindness, it was he who helped me to see how good God is and how richly he blesses the poorest among us. I am sure by now Sweet William has gone to his reward, and I cannot imagine the abundant joy he must have had when the first thing he had ever seen was the face of God!
The poor among us can identify more closely to Jesus’ life than most, simply because they have lived it. And many times, when they are not hindered by bitterness or despair, they have a clearer picture of God’s greatness than any person of wealth might have.
Welcome the spirit of poverty into your life. Release yourself from whatever clutter you may have – the distractions, the time, money and energy drains, and anything that takes you away from doing His will in all areas of your life. Time is too short to be focused on acquiring everything on your wish list. Toss it aside and focus on the Holy Family instead. Mary and Joseph had nothing at all. And because of this, they possessed Everything. Gaze upon the face of the Infant Jesus and you will see how everything else is simply a distraction from what is truly important. God will provide for our needs. He gave us Christ! What more could we ask for?
“Grace of the mystery of the Nativity, come down into my soul and make me truly poor in spirit.”
Copyright 2010 Cassandra Poppe