Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Voluntary Poverty, Lord Please Make Us Poor!

"Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven!"
~ Matthew 5:3

As Christmas came and went, what I wanted most this year was to really focus on Mary and the birth of Christ.  This has to have been the BEST Christmas I have every had, ever!  Was it because we had tons of gifts under the tree?  NO!  It was because I learned something, I learned about the deep peace that filled the soul of Mary in the stable at Bethlehem even if the conditions were, as we would think, less favorable.  If you followed me on this journey, you saw that I was reading the Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary by Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich.  In this book, we learn by divine revelation, that the Holy Family was not welcomed in several places during their journey, and not just once.  What stuck with me most, while reading these events, was that even though they were travelling for days, with Child, Mary's joy and peace was never lost!

In the stable, I'm certain, that she was happy to be surrounded by the poor shepherds instead of a royal court!  The Queen of Heaven and Earth, the Mother of our Savior, was content with the harsh conditions she found herself in while doing the most important job any human could ever have done: bringing the Life of the World!  This is something I want to imitate - something that really stuck with me!  You see, she was happy in the poor conditions she found herself in, actually she was thrilled!  Something else that I learned in this book  is that Saint Anne was pretty well to do and that Saint Joseph and Mary lived with her.  Saint Anne had prepared the finest linens that you could have at the time for the birth of her grandson, Jesus Christ.  But much to Anne's sadness, he would not be received in these fine linens.  Why? She accepted the Will of God, for one.  Also, she was not attached to worldly things, to earthly possessions, and she loved the deprivation of these.  So how can we, the poor, really think of ourselves as unfortunate when Jesus, himself, choose this similar life for His own mother?  The Son of God was born in a stable!  Have you ever really grasped this?  God could have been born ANYWHERE, anywhere, ANYWHERE, but he choose the poorest and meekest of all places!

This led me to think also think further about the Biblical passage: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven!" So what does this really mean?  To me, after reading the journey of the Holy Family and reflecting on my family's earthly experience,  what these words mean is that, as poor people we must embrace our poverty.  To those who are rich (monetarily), you should  not be attached to your wealth, nor should you fill your home or mind of earthly possessions.

So therefore, this led me to yearn poverty: I do really want to be poor!  I do, I'm not kidding either!  The past four years of our lives have been a constant roller coaster filled with lay offs, and moving and financial instability.  Reflecting this time, I have to say that we have been happy, healthy, and holy the whole ride!  Thinking back of these past years, I am actually thankful for this ride that the Lord has sent us on.  Because of it: our marriage is stronger (we keep saying if we survived these past years, we can handle anything!), our children are happier, our home is simpler!  We are filled with joy and peace, Lord, please, make us poor!  :)

Looking ahead, the future looks brighter and financially stable than it has been the past almost four years.  There is something which I'd like to not change in us:  I want to keep living and continue being focused on the important things in life - just like we have been when we have been the poorest in our lives.  Poor in wealth and material things of course.  Going forward and thinking of us getting back on our feet financially, I worry about becoming attached of things again.  I don't want this for my family, but rather I yearn for simplicity and an orderly life.  

All around me I see when people become prosperous how they become attached to the things of this earth and then tend to forget Heaven.  Why?  I believe, that temptations become stronger, you fall more frequently, and you keep wanting more.  All of these things, dear friends, are harmful for the soul.  Notice that these are the things the world teaches to want, lust for, desire, and envy others for......ah, but remember and keep this in mind:  we are not of this world!  As Catholics, we belong to God, after all He is the one that gave us life!

Through all this the words of my beautiful grandmother, Mita, keep ringing in my ears.  As a small child, I remember her telling me (in Spanish): "There is no point in acquiring earthly possessions, because on the day you die, you can't take these with you!  The only thing you take with is your virtues!  Poverty, being poor, offers many occasions for exercising these virtues - the things that matters most, the things that help you get to Heaven!" (I'm paraphrasing here)  Oh, she was so right!  I pray for her soul, daily, in hopes that she is in Heaven praying for me and my vocation.

So I pray, "Blessed Mother, by your example, you have taught me to love poverty, how much it is better for my soul and my vocation as a mother and wife than wealth.  Please continue to teach me going forward to love and set my mind and heart to Heavenly possessions.  Thank you, Blessed Mother, for your acceptance of the Divine Will of our Lord.

Dear Lord, thank you for giving us your Mother as the perfect example for our broken human nature.  Someone we can look to in becoming better people and loving and worshiping you always in thanksgiving, no matter the circumstance."

Lord Please Make Us Poor!

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