Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Third Joyful Mystery

The Nativity
We offer Thee, O Jesus, this third decade in honor of Thy birth in the stable of Bethlehem and we ask of Thee through this mystery and through the intercession of Thy most holy mother, detachment from the things of this world, contempt of riches, and a love of poverty.
St. Louis de Monfort 

Whenever you speak or write in public about anything having to do with the spiritual life, you better be prepared to put up, or shut up because before long, you are going to be tested in whatever are it is that you have been so piously preaching. I first found this out about 30 years ago when I was teaching (and had no business to be teaching) RCIA. I gave a lovely little talk on marriage, which was as far as I can remember absolutely true and in line with Church teaching, and then went home to a period of at least a couple of weeks of constant conflict with my husband. After a while it hit me, "Aha," I said, "somebody out there would like to discourage people from teaching other people about the Church." 

So, I try to be prepared, but sometimes, like yesterday, I get really blind-sided. Therefore, it is with a bit of trepidation that write about, "... a love of poverty." There are so many uncomfortable ways in which that one could be tested.

I can see where someone might not want to pray this prayer. I've never experienced grinding poverty, but I did hover for many years right over that line that separates those who are eligible for public assistance from those who aren't, and I don't particularly want to go back to that. Asking God for a love of poverty, like asking God for any difficult thing, can be frightening because it awakes our deepest fears. We're bothered by all sorts of nagging little questions. What if I lose my job? What if I pray this and God asks me to give away my stuff? How can I take care of my children if any of this happens? These sorts of questions can come from many directions: our own insecurity, the enemy of our soul who seeks to frighten us away from any spiritual progress, scruples or several other things. They all arise, though, because in truth, we don't trust God.

The spiritual life is one long realization of our lack of trust in God's love for us and decisions to cast ourselves in to the abyss of His Mercy. We can only learn to trust God by trusting God. We have to somehow learn to want Him more than anything else, and there's no easy way to do this. It's painful all the way, but it's less painful, or at least more peaceful when we by an act of our will just let go of whatever it is that He is asking at the moment.

There is another question that we tend to overlook in the midst of all our fears and worries, but sometimes a little voice breaks through. What if this prayer, this struggle, this loss, sets me free? What if I can get to that place that I read about in Luke where I won't worry about what I am to wear or what I am to eat because your Father in Heaven who feeds the birds will feed me? A love of poverty is the key to of the prison of fear.


P.S. I'm sorry if there are typos and things, but I have to leave for a retreat RIGHT NOW. I'll proofread when I get home this afternoon.