Embracing Poverty

An embrace of Lady Poverty means that we try to live freely by getting out from under the possessions that own us. This can range from adopting a Franciscan-like life of voluntary poverty to the more common effort to cut down on consumption of needless luxuries. The purpose in either case is to forgo what we don’t need in order to imitate better the holy poverty of Christ, to appreciate better our fellow humans, and to contribute to a more equitable distribution of resources. But genuine freedom—which, recall, is a necessary condition for the joy Francis craves—isn’t simply a matter of throwing off externalities that burden us. It entails a relinquishment of internal acquisitiveness. In addition to ridding ourselves of goods that weigh down our spirits, we must wean ourselves from our psychological desire for them. Doing the one without the other simply won’t suffice. We can steel ourselves to a life of material poverty yet still remain enslaved by our lusts, vanity, and jealousies.

—from the book Perfect Joy: 30 Days with Francis of Assisi  by Kerry Walters

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