POVERTY OF SIMPLICITY
Nativity

GEERTGEN tot Sint Jans, 1490

 

WE contemplate in the Third Joyful Mystery that Jesus was born in neither a sterilized hospital nor a palace. Our King was laid in a manger "because there was no room for them in the inn."

And Joseph and Mary did not insist on comfort. They did not seek out the finest, though they rightly could have demanded it. They were satisfied with simplicity.

The authentic Christian’s life should be one of simplicity. One can be wealthy, and yet live a simple lifestyle. It means living with what one needs, rather than wants (within reason). Our closets are usually the first thermometer of simplicity.

Neither does simplicity mean having to live in squalor. I am certain that Joseph cleaned out the manger, that Mary lined it with a clean cloth, and that their little quarters were tidied as much as possible for Christ’s coming. So too should our hearts be readied for the Savior’s coming. The poverty of simplicity makes room for Him.

It also has a face: contentment.

I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and being in need. I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me. (Phil 4:12-13)

POVERTY OF SELF
The Visitation
Mural in Conception Abbey, Missouri

 

IN the Second Joyful Mystery, Mary sets off to assist her cousin Elizabeth who is also expecting child. Scripture says that Mary stayed there "three months."

The first trimester is usually the most tiring for women. The rapid development of the baby, changes in hormones, all the emotions… and yet, it was during this time that Mary impoverished her own needs to help her cousin.

The authentic Christian is one who empties himself in service for the other.

    God is first.

    My neighbour is second.

    I am third.

This is the most powerful form of poverty. It’s face is that of love.

...he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave... becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.  (Phil 2:7)

WHILE meditating in the "school of Mary", the word "poverty" refracted into five rays. The first…

POVERTY OF STATE
First Joyful Mystery
"The Annunciation" (Unkown)

 

IN the first Joyful Mystery, Mary’s world, her dreams and plans with Joseph, were suddenly changed. God had a different plan. She was shocked and afraid, and felt no doubt incapable of so great a task. But her response has echoed for 2000 years:

May it be done to me according to your word.

Each of us is born with a specific plan for our lives, and given specific gifts to do it. And yet, how often do we find ourselves envying our neighbours talents? "She sings better than me; he is smarter; she is better looking; he is more eloquent…" and so on.

The first poverty which we must embrace in imitation of Christ’s poverty is the acceptance of ourselves and God’s designs. The foundation of this acceptance is trust—trust that God designed me for a purpose, which first and foremost, is to be loved by Him.

It is also accepting that I am poor in virtues and holiness, a sinner in reality, totally reliant on the riches of God’s mercy. Of myself, I am incapable, and so pray, "Lord, have me mercy on me a sinner."

This poverty has a face: it is called humility.

Blessed are the poor in spirit. (Matthew 5:3)

Authentic

St. Francis of Assisi

"St. Francis of Assisi" by Michael D. O'Brien

 

THE world is inundated with "Christian words." But what it thirsts for is "authentic" Christian witness.

Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses. —POPE PAUL VI, Evangelization in the Modern World

What should the modern Christian look like?

The world calls for and expects from us simplicity of life, the spirit of prayer, charity towards all especially towards the lowly and the poor, obedience and humility, detachment and self-sacrifice. Without this mark of holiness, our word will have difficulty in touching the heart of modern man. It risks being vain and sterile. —Ibid.

Paul VI also mentions "poverty and detachment". It is this word poverty which speaks to me this morning…

Midnight is Nigh

Midnight... Almost

 

WHILE praying before the Blessed Sacrament two weeks ago, one of my colleagues had the image of a clock flash in his mind. The hands were at midnight… and then suddenly, they jumped back a couple of minutes, then moved forward, then back…

My wife likewise has a reoccurring dream where we are standing in a field, while dark clouds gather on the horizon. As we walk toward them, the clouds move away.

We should not underestimate the power of intercession, particularly when we invoke God’s Mercy. Nor should we fail to understand the signs of the times.

Consider the patience of our Lord as salvation. –2 Pt 3:15

SO long as you breathe, Mercy is yours.

    Christ is a divine judge with a human heart, a judge who wants to give life. Only unrepentant attachment to evil can prevent him from offering this gift, for which he did not hesitate to face death. –Pope John Paul II, General Audience, Wednesday, 22 April 1998

Quickly! Fill Your Lamps!

Oil Lamp

 

I RECENTLY met with a group of other Catholic leaders and missionaries in Western Canada. During our first night of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, a couple of us were suddenly overcome with a deep sense of grief. The words came to my heart,

    The Holy Spirit is grieved over ingratitude for the wounds of Jesus.

Then a week or so later, a colleague of mine who was not present with us wrote saying,

For a few days I have had the sense that the Holy Spirit is brooding, like brooding over creation, as if we are at some turning point, or at the beginning of something big, some shift in the way the Lord is doing things. Like we now see through a glass darkly, but soon we will see more clearly. Almost a heavyness, like the Spirit has weight!

Perhaps this sense of change on the horizon is why I continue to hear in my heart the words, "Quickly! Fill your lamps!" It’s from the story of the ten virgins who go out to meet the bridegroom (Matt 25:1-13).

Continue reading

Conceiving Jesus in You

Mary Carries the Holy Spirit

Karmel Milosci Milosiernej, Poland

 

YESTERDAY’s liturgy marks the end of Pentecost week–but not the profound necessity in our lives of the Holy Spirit and His spouse, the Virgin Mary.

It has been my personal experience, having traveled to hundreds of parishes, meeting tens of thousands of people–that souls who open themselves to the activity of the Holy Spirit, coupled with a healthy devotion to Mary, are some of the strongest apostles I know.

And why should this surprise anyone? Wasn’t it this combination of heaven and earth over 20 centuries ago, that wrought the incarnation of God in the flesh, Jesus Christ?

That is the way Jesus is always conceived. That is the way He is reproduced in souls… Two artisans must concur in the work that is at once God’s masterpiece and humanity’s supreme product: the Holy Spirit and the most holy Virgin Mary… for they are the only ones who can reproduce Christ. –Archbishop Luis M. Martinez, The Sanctifier

 

     

WHEN Pope John Paul II revived the Rosary in 2003, it was not out of a sense of nostalgia.

He was calling the Church to arms, to take up the spiritual and material battle raging within and from without the Church. He was urging us to call upon the greatest of intercessors–Jesus’ Mother–to come to our assistance. As one priest said, “Mary is a lady… but she wears combat boots.” Indeed, in Genesis, it is her heel which will crush the serpent’s head.

    The grave challenges confronting the world at the start of this new Millennium lead us to think that only an intervention from on high… can give reason to hope for a brighter future…. The Church has always attributed particular efficacy to this prayer, entrusting to the Rosary… the most difficult problems. At times when Christianity itself seemed under threat, its deliverance was attributed to the power of this prayer, and Our Lady of the Rosary was acclaimed as the one whose intercession brought salvation. –John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae; 40, 39