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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Blog Action Day - Holy Poverty

Today is Blog Action Day. Today is also the Feast Day of St. Teresa of Avila - a woman who embraced poverty.

St. Teresa was a woman born in the 1500s to a wealthy family who eventually became a nun and, in conjunction with St. John of the Cross, founded a reformed order of nuns called the Discalced (Shoeless) Carmelites. (Shoelessness is a symbol of humility and poverty.) She believed her call from God was to "Holy Poverty".

When I think about the calling to holy poverty, I think of it as a specific Vocation (that is vocation with a most definite capital "V") - not something that the average Christian is called to, but I'm not so sure about that anymore.

When we embrace the truth that all our possessions are only given to us to enable us to do the Lord's work - God's provision for us - suddenly we are the the midst of a dichotomy: ultimate poverty and ultimate wealth. We are entirely poor because nothing we have truly is ours - it belongs entirely to God...and yet, we have a God who "owns the cattle on a thousand hills." He owns it all and can provide for us all that we need and more.

This attitude toward belongings may not lead us to a vocation of Holy Poverty (big H, big P), in which we eschew owning anything, but it might lead us to holiness in poverty (little h, little p) by allowing us to look at our belongings and money as not "owned" but "held in trust". When we hold our belongings "in trust" we are able and willing to freely give to those in need because we understand that "it" all belongs to God anyway.

Want to read more about Holy Poverty?

In honor of St. Teresa of Avila's Feast Day, here are some links and bits of information for you to learn more about her, her order, and her call to Holy Poverty.

A prayer for St. Teresa of Avila's Feast Day
Father, by your Spirit you raised up Saint Teresa of Jesus to show your Church the way to perfection. May her inspired teaching awaken in us a longing for true holiness. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen..

A retelling of her story geared toward young children. And one for older kids and adults. And one more if you'd like a more complete biography.

She is a patron saint - against bodily ills, headaches, sickness, and heart disease, of lace makers and workers, of those who have lost parents, of people in need of grace, of people in religious orders, and of people ridiculed for their piety, of those in opposition to the Church authorities.She also authored two great spiritual works: The Way of Perfection and The Interior Castle.

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Jessica said...

This: "all our possessions are only given to us to enable us to do the Lord's work" is a great observation. I think I'll chew on it for awhile. Thank you for writing it.

Jennifer F. said...

This is a great post. Thank you!

Brother Charles said...

Great reflection...thanks for the link! Peace and good!