Yuck! Who wants to think of poverty as a value we are supposed to embrace, but as Franciscans, it is an important value to reflect on.
We are not being asked to live in material poverty. As Catholics, we hold the view that every individual should earn a just wage that affords them enough money for not only food, healthcare and shelter but leisure time, time to enter into meaningful activities such as ministry, prayer, time with family and time for engagement with the arts.
St Francis’ observation was that the more material possessions we own, the more we have to distract us from God and the more things we have to protect. On one hand, accumulating things to satisfy us means we rely less on God to provide. On another, protecting our “stuff” puts us in a defensive position against others who we fear want our stuff. The stuff St Francis was referring to, is not just the material possessions, but our sense of ownership over other things we value – our country, our neighborhood, our perceived “rights,” the beliefs we hold dear and our strong opinions.
So, how do we live in Franciscan poverty?
Lead a simple life; have enough but not too much.
Rely on God. Focus on God.
Hold on lightly to what we hold precious including our ideas.
How do you feel about the Franciscan view of poverty?
What changes in your life could you make to follow this value more closely?