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Chapter 15

THE EVANGELICAL COUNSELS
Poverty (Humility)

 

Craftiness is the accumulation of artifices,
intrigues, deceits and appearances
to mislead the minds of those with whom we converse. 
This is quite the reverse of simplicity (humility),
which requires that the outside
should correspond with what is within.
—St. Francis de Sales

 

 

Together with the Ten Commandments of the Old Testament, which are foundational, we build the tower of the spiritual life with the Evangelical Counsels of Jesus Christ—Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience.

The spirit of Poverty is contrary to the spirit of possessiveness.  It brings peace not restlessness.  It leads to love not selfishness.  Evangelical Poverty is a form of humility and holy detachment and, therefore, relates to the Beatitude—“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:3)  The practice of Poverty can be called simplicity.  In poverty of spirit, humility of heart, we simply seek to fulfill God’s will the best we can, to please Him in all things.  Thus, we abandon what is superfluous and attend to what is pertinent to our state of soul and place in life.  Our ambition in not for more of everything, but for more of God.  By simplicity we realize that people are more important than things, and God is more important than everything.  Furthermore, we do not seek to do so many things that life becomes overcrowded with activity.  “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matt. 6:33)  What do we do that is not good for us?  Our life in Christ becomes more simple and free when we choose to do only what God wants us to—nothing more, nothing less, and nothing other.

Become good exchangers,” the saints would say.  Exchange something lower for something higher, what pulls down for what lifts up.  For example, exchange some frivolous online screen time for spiritual reading.  Give up some pastime dissipation for prayer time recollection.  Let go of self-pity, and help somebody.  Offer up anger and pride, and pray for humility and true love.  Give up complaining, and begin thanking.  When we become “poor in spirit” and live in humility, simplicity and true love, we will be grateful for everything and look for nothing but God’s will, Love and Life—His Living Loving Presence in our soul—which is worth more than all else.  Then, we will be able to love others, and expect nothing in return—no strings attached, no expectations—only the hope that they, too, will love God and grow closer to Him who alone is their salvation.

 

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