Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Poverty: The Vow

Continuing with the exploration of the LMC vows in literal form, today we look at poverty. 
A copy of the statutes in full can be found here.


"Christ, though rich became poor for our sake, so that in His poverty we be made rich" (Cor 8:9)

1. The LMCs, as a Movement of Consecrated Persons, choose poverty through which they might become rich in Christ. Living as lay persons in the world, not all are able to practice the vow of poverty in the same way in its material expression. Each one individually must be able to decide the best way to observe the vow of poverty, most pleasing to the Lord; thus in their voluntary poverty they will be able to help poor become rich. However renunciation of wealth in heart and spirit, the inner detachment from all earthly goods, is an absolute obligation for all.

1 - Poverty can either be material or spiritual; both of which have negative and positive aspects.

- Negative material poverty means to be deprived of the basic necessities of life, such as food, shelter, clothes and education.

- Negative spiritual poverty on the other hand is an attitude, a mentality or indifference toward God, an apathy toward religion, a feeling of self-sufficiency and autonomy; in effect man becomes his own God.

- Positive material poverty means that one freely and joyfully chooses to love a simpler life; content with the basic necessities of life in imitation of Jesus who was born poor, lived poorer, died the poorest, and desires to have less rather than more.

- Positive spiritual poverty means the awareness and the conviction that without God he can do nothing - "I am what I am by the grace of God" (1Cor 15:10) - that the way to power lies through the realisation of helplessness, that the way to victory lies through the admission of defeat, that the way to goodness lies through the acknowledgement and confession of sin, that the way to independence lies through dependence, and the way to freedom lies through surrender.

Evangelical poverty is the combination of the two positive aspects of material and spiritual poverty deliberately wanted and voluntarily chosen in imitation of "Jesus who though rich became poor for our sake so that in His poverty we may become rich" (2 Cor 8:9), in order to make the poorest of the poor rich in our voluntary poverty.(From the Contemplative Brothers' Constitutions No. 62).

2. By means of the vow of poverty, the LMC will be protected from the dangers of:

- self-exaltation that can be a consequence of excess possession of material things;

- the use of the superfluous mistaken for needs; created things must be used not as an end in themselves, but as a means to know, love and serve God and to serve our fellow men better;

- avarice, which knows no moderation in the acquisition of wealth and carries with it the worries and preoccupation to secure a future in this world rather than friendship with God;

- prodigality, understood as an excessive and unrestrained use of material things, which offends against temperance.

- Through the gift of evangelical poverty Jesus calls us to:

· renounce everything, every desire and ambition of power, honour and glory (Mt 1:11), as a condition for entering the Kingdom of God (Mt 10:23-27); "renounce your very self" (Lk 9:23), "sell all your possessions" (Lk 12:32) in order to love Him above everything, love Him in everything and everything in Him. (From the Contemplative Brothers' Constitutions No. 64).

3. The LMCs constantly are reminded of the necessity for:

- filial dependence on God for everything (Lk 12: 22-32);

- renunciation of earthly goods as a condition for entering the Kingdom of God (Mk 10: 23-27). Every Christian, whether rich or poor, in their own environment and in the heart of the world, must always fulfil the service of God, with an evangelical spirit, with interior renunciation and with the appropriate use of the gifts of His love;

- fraternal sharing as a condition for entering the reign of Heaven (Mt 25:31-46). Everyone must look upon earthly goods as means for loving Christ in one's needy neighbour. "As long as you did it to one of the least of my brothers, you did it to Me" (Mt 25:40).