Gospel Poverty


#1

Why is this being posted here and not Spirituality or Prayer Intentions? Because you guys and gals are familiar with myself and my journey within the Faith.

This Sunday, for the first time in my nine years of helping with the youth program, I'm giving a talk on Gospel Poverty. I'm excited to do so, in large part because the desire for spiritual poverty has shaped my formation for years. Most of you know of my love of mendicant spirituality, so this talk is very much up my wheelhouse.

I'm reading a book that TimothyH recommended, "Happy are you poor". I'm two or three chapters in, and already I can tell that the author of the book is a man after my own heart; he speaks my language, he's speaking about arguably the primary tenant I build my faith on.

I post here for three reasons. First, prayers; not only is this an important talk on a personal level, but a scandal (I'll spare the details) just hit my parish. People are going to be reeling, and we'll have a lot to deal with, specifically there might be concerns that the youth program will continue.

Second, I'd like your opinions. There's a diversity in this subforum, I'd like to get your opinions on this topic.

Third, I might post some of my own reflections in this thread as well.

Cheers, and God bless you all!


#2

If there is one book which has radically shaped my actions on a day to day basis, "Happy are You Poor" is it. It has made me examine the brands I buy, the quantity of things I buy, and how I use material goods every single day.

Right now I am selling kayaks, muscle car parts, trekking poles that cost $250 and have sat in the closet for five years, old tools and bicycles on craigslist. I rinse out paper cups and use them later in the day, cook less food and subsequently throw less away, and wear out clothes before I throw them away. My daily shoes are getting pretty bad.

My own reflection simply mirrors fr. Dubay's, that Gospel poverty is real, actual, not a willingness to give up things or do with less if called upon to do so, but actually doing with less on a daily basis, being satisfied with less, and actually sharing with those in need.

It is a simple message, but difficult to live out because everywhere I look, I find waste in my life, things which have seperated me from God.

I'd love to here some from you, Melchior_. I will pray for your parish.

-Tim-


#3

My initial thoughts on this topic before even reading the book; freedom. Yet within my mind at times, a prison.

But that'd be cheating, so I will explain a bit more.

The freedom of not being attached to "stuff" is liberating. Not being worried about clothes or having the latest gizmos, the detachment from material items is something I enjoy. I've survived being unemployed, I've survived being homeless with nothing buy what was in my backpack. It wasn't the lack of stuff that bothered me, I've never been prone to jealousy. Really, I'm a simple man who likes simple things. I buy my clothes second hand or at Walmart, I wait until my shoes have holes. I do genuinely try to live my life like this, I love it.

This of course, dovetails nicely with the mendicants. You all know of my love for Holy Father's Francis & Dominic, and you all know of my discernment with Secular Orders. A big portion of that is my lifestyle, I model my life after Francis & Dominic (especially Francis). That includes Gospel Poverty.

But I do have a problem, which is getting treated. It's a problem which in a couple of cases had put me at odds with the above. I used to have a video game collection, I would buy games thinking "I'll play them eventually". However I never would; they would remain on the shelf. Always something different to do, always distractions. ADHD is a harsh enemy at times, and "I'll get around to it" is one of it's fiercest weapons. That and the constant need for stimulation. I would get things on sale and whatnot, but stuff adds up.

Eventually, I decided it was time. Looking at that collection one last time, I told myself "that's not what I want for myself. It goes against how I want to live my life". It was time to get rid of those games. I went to the local EB Games and traded in ~85 of them for two titles. The games I kept were ones I would play with friends, ones my wife might enjoy if she were to try it, Two or three titles were sentimental ones. Fast forward a bit, and we cleaned up our entertainment area. The 360 and the Wii have lost their appeal for the most part. Haven't touched them in months. In fact, the next console upgrade cycle I've decided to skip it. I'm thinking of giving away some of what remains. I still play games, of course. I play on my PC now, however I now have a firm rule; I will not buy another game until I complete it.

Speaking of my PC, I recently upgraded my PC for work related purposes. I'm going to build and deploy my own virtual network so I can practice for certifications and the like, and I need horsepower to do so. I shopped smart, bought from several different locations, and paid 60% less than what I would have. it took a lot of effort to do this, but I'm proud that I went under budget. I built it myself as well. Now, however, I have spare parts from what I used before. And a friend of mine donated to me several spare parts. I was going to keep them lying around in the event someone needed something....however I've also been thinking of cobbling some of the things together and donating them to others. I'm not sure how saving something in the event a friend needs something fits in with Gospel Poverty. Hopefully the book can answer this.

Meanwhile, I picked up a tablet, and I use the kindle store. I have a reading list of seven books now, with ironically "Happy are you poor" being one of them. Keep in mind I haven't read a book cover-to-cover....ever. That ADHD thing? Applies to books too. I've always skipped pages and sections. I'm 30 years old, and I seriously can't remember if I ever read a book cover to cover. Children's books like the Bernstain Bears, probably. Even the Bible, there's books I have never read (Numbers? COME ON, IT'S A BLOODY CENSUS POLL). Again, hopefully my brain and body will at one point allow me to do this. Mental illness is a tricky thing, and managing a mental illness can be difficult.

Anyway, despite modeling my life to follow Gospel Poverty, I was not immune to "stuff", specifically the above story about video games. I believe that is the one of the few times I have been caught up in something, and I have tried to temper it. But I will freely say that I love the freedom living that life offers so much, that I do make the effort to continue to live in that way. At this point I can say I spend my money on the following items;

  • I did upgrade my computer (except the video card, it is currently still very serviceable), however I usually go five to six years between upgrade cycles. This last time, assuming everything works, I'm aiming for ten years.

  • I enjoy McDoubles. I am cutting back on my McDoubles intake.

  • I buy name-brand Kraft Dinner when it is on sale, I love that stuff. When it hits a good price, I buy one or two CASES (think 100+ boxes) and get dirty looks from the cashier. But I don't care, because it's tasty and cheap!

I'd like to think the above is reasonable.....but we'll see what the book says. Hopefully this book can help me continue this journey I love so.

I would love feedback on my post, and on this topic. This is a matter close to my heart, and I promise to take all what you say close to my heart as well.


#4

Brothers, thank you for posting your discussion. It is excellent reading. I am not familiar with you, and actually stumbled upon this thread. I don't mean to disrupt or interfere with your discussion. The following comments are unsolicited, but I wanted to share them with you.

The concept of Gospel Poverty is wonderful, and a much needed approach to living in this, or any age. I believe pursuing less is truly liberating. The pursuit of material things, ego satisfaction, constantly striving for things beyond the basic needs and creature comforts (as status symbols, or perceived necessities) is folly. But more importantly, studies throughout the ages prove that man's ego tends to edge God out. Adopting simplicity affords us the opportunity to seek first the kingdom. The pursuit of voluntary poverty + intimacy with Jesus yields the most for all of us.

Billy Graham has said 'we are not cisterns made for hoarding, we are channels made for sharing.'

May God bless you.


#5

[quote="mh2007, post:4, topic:295507"]
Brothers, thank you for posting your discussion. It is excellent reading. I am not familiar with you, and actually stumbled upon this thread. I don't mean to disrupt or interfere with your discussion. The following comments are unsolicited, but I wanted to share them with you.

The concept of Gospel Poverty is wonderful, and a much needed approach to living in this, or any age. I believe pursuing less is truly liberating. The pursuit of material things, ego satisfaction, constantly striving for things beyond the basic needs and creature comforts (as status symbols, or perceived necessities) is folly. But more importantly, studies throughout the ages prove that man's ego tends to edge God out. Adopting simplicity affords us the opportunity to seek first the kingdom. The pursuit of voluntary poverty + intimacy with Jesus yields the most for all of us.

Billy Graham has said 'we are not cisterns made for hoarding, we are channels made for sharing.'

May God bless you.

[/quote]

That is an important point. It is one thing to live frugally, but what do we do with the excess?

Brother JR said something a while back, I think it was in a thread on detachment, something like, "Only what is is needed to preach the Gospel." He went on to explain that if he needed a laptop to preach the Gospel, then he got a laptop. If a laptop was no longer needed, he got rid of it.

That really stuck with me. I wish I could do better at it.

-Tim-


#6

I love "Happy Are You Poor". I don't remember if Tim is the one who recommended it to me or I to him, but someone on CAF recommended it to me.

It's a life changer.

Gospel poverty is something that I struggle with a lot. I definitely feel the pressure to spend on my kids to some degree and I am constantly trying to reconcile that.

My phone bill is sky high because we all have unlimited data plans. :(

It gets tricky because not all Catholics adhere to gospel poverty so when I sometimes seek direction regarding that, I get different responses.

Anyway, thanks for starting this thread.


#7

In chapter six, and so far this book is as advertised; amazing.

Among the things I like is the clear use of Scripture. My wife always wants to refer back to Scripture, in large part due to her previous background in Protestantism. She’s been very impressed with the amount of Scripture used in the book, which in large part gives it credibility in her eyes.

It’s also caused me to think. The spare computer parts? Will be donated. The cards I have from trading card games I used to play? They will be given away. I’m no longer going to play console video games, why should I when I already have a PC that is more than capable of being a gaming platform, in addition to other tasks?

At what point does prudent saving turn one into a miser? I would guess that’s if the excess is incidental, you are open to using it towards good ((and actually use it towards good), and you tithe accordingly, it does not conflict with Gospel Poverty.

Wow. Simply incredible. That is the ideal. In my heart I know it is the ideal. At the same time, his vow of poverty does run different than us in a secular state. But that ideal is a worthy one to aim for regardless.

Tim and I had a chat on this topic over at the TC section awhile ago, and he suggested it knowing I would probably love the book. He was right, of course.

I don’t feel pressure, but at times I worry if my son will rebel against me and my moderate ways/voluntary poverty

I agree. I suggested to one friend of mine “you should go to Madonna House for a weekend and contemplate some things” (Madonna House was founded by Catherine Doherty, Servant of God). She said no, probably because it would require a radical departure from her comfort zone. Her version of poverty does not line up with mine, so I may have well done and grown goat ears.

Please contribute as much as you can and want to, TL. I greatly value your input!


#8

I've taken to posting some messages on this topic on our youth group's Facebook page, to get people thinking in advance of tomorrow.

*Day #1: * *You ever have something that you love, that you embrace? Something that's important to your being? Something you could NEVER live without? Something which if you lost, you will be devastated. Something you are all about. Tangible items which you possess.

Close your eyes. Think about this. Think about what you have, think about what you own, you hope and dream. What's in your mind, what is in your future. What you have EARNED. What is rightfully yours. You own these things. These things are yours, you control them and control what happens to them.

Tell me, when you open your eyes, what would remain if it all went away?

Freedom.

This Sunday, get ready.*

Day #2: *"In our daily lives, we are surrounded by noise. The noise gradually builds up to a deafening roar, at which we are unaware as we have grown accustomed to the gradual increase that our lives have bore witness to. Eventually, we find ourselves lost and unable to communicate. The method to avoid this is a simple one, and can be summed up in one sentence, and the use of applied physics;

Sound doesn't travel through a vacuum".

This Sunday, get ready.*

Day #3: *"How often, when the weight of the world is on our shoulders, do we look at what is being carried? How often do we examine what we arm ourselves with when we journey?

What would it be like if we reached the stage where the above comes naturally, and we hold the answer?

What if I told you the answer to three above questions, and the below comments I posted last two days, could be summarized in two words?

Two words to live. Two words to move towards the liberty you desire, yet you likely have no idea how much you would desire it"

This Sunday (tomorrow), get ready,*

I'm excited for this talk, I'm excited for this evening. What I am not looking forward to is the fallout from a scandal that occurred within our parish. Again, please pray for both this talk, this night, and for my parish and ministry that I love so much.


#9

[quote="Melchior, post:8, topic:295507"]
Again, please pray for both this talk, this night, and for my parish and ministry that I love so much.

[/quote]

You got it!


#10

[quote="Melchior, post:8, topic:295507"]
Day #2: *"In our daily lives, we are surrounded by noise. The noise gradually builds up to a deafening roar, at which we are unaware as we have grown accustomed to the gradual increase that our lives have bore witness to. Eventually, we find ourselves lost and unable to communicate. The method to avoid this is a simple one, and can be summed up in one sentence, and the use of applied physics;

Sound doesn't travel through a vacuum".

This Sunday, get ready.*

[/quote]

**Everything in modern city life is calculated to keep man from entering into himself and thinking about spiritual things. Even with the best of intentions a spiritual man finds himself exhausted and deadened and debased by the constant noise of machines and loudspeakers, the dead air and the glaring lights of offices and shops, the everlasting suggestions of advertising and propaganda. The whole mechanism of modern life is geared for a flight from God and from the spirit into the wilderness of neurosis. Even our monasteries are not free from the smell and clatter of our world.(No Man is an Island, Thomas Merton)

-Tim-


#11

[quote="Melchior, post:7, topic:295507"]
Tim and I had a chat on this topic over at the TC section awhile ago, and he suggested it knowing I would probably love the book. He was right, of course.

[/quote]

I tried to ship you the book, but they wanted like $35 to ship from Atlanta to Canada.

I laughed when the clerk told me the price and remember thinking that spending $35 to ship a $16 book was not really in line with Gospel poverty. :)


#12

[quote="TimothyH, post:10, topic:295507"]
Everything in modern city life is calculated to keep man from entering into himself and thinking about spiritual things. Even with the best of intentions a spiritual man finds himself exhausted and deadened and debased by the constant noise of machines and loudspeakers, the dead air and the glaring lights of offices and shops, the everlasting suggestions of advertising and propaganda. The whole mechanism of modern life is geared for a flight from God and from the spirit into the wilderness of neurosis. Even our monasteries are not free from the smell and clatter of our world.(No Man is an Island, Thomas Merton)

[/quote]

I'm obviously on the right track of my writing aligns with Merton.

[quote="TimothyH, post:11, topic:295507"]
I tried to ship you the book, but they wanted like $35 to ship from Atlanta to Canada.

I laughed when the clerk told me the price and remember thinking that spending $35 to ship a $16 book was not really in line with Gospel poverty. :)

[/quote]

I had a great chuckle over that too!


#13

**#4: ** *"There are times when one must make the sacrifices necessary to reach a goal. Every one understands the fundamental concept of sacrifice, that one gives something or even themselves. What most don’t understand is, through sustained action one can begin to see that sacrifice need not have negative connotations, but instead become something even more meaningful. It becomes a way of life where sacrifice takes on a new meaning, a meaning of freedom and hope. And the power of that message of self-sacrifice carries additional weight because it moves past conventional boundaries.

You see, sacrifice is something that essentially transcends language, everyone understands as it is usually defined by one’s actions.

It mirrors what St. Clare told Holy Father Francis; ‘preach the Gospel at all
times. And when necessary, use words’".

Today. 6pm for Mass, 7:15pm for the night.

Get ready.*


#14

*Last Message: **Today is it, we are four hours away from this Life Night. Four hours until you hear a message which could change your life. A message so simple, so effective. Yet it gets brushed away like dust, like the very dust which consumes our life, and settles on our being. In fact, I'm willing to bet that some have already written off this night, and the message it will hold.

All you're giving up is liberty and victory. That's all.

Today. 6pm for Mass, 7:15pm for the night.

Get ready.*


#15

UPDATE:

I think the talk went well. A special thanks to TimothyH, who I hope doesn't mind that I shared his experience with his retreat on that faithful day. And to Brother JR, who I also used several of his personal stories.

I assume the both of you wouldn't mind, since you posted it in public. Hopefully I got all the details correct with them!

I actually recorded the talk using an old recorder I had lying around. I don't know if I will upload it though.


#16

I was reading about gluttony on wikipedia and thought it tied in nicely with the subject of Gospel Poverty in this thread. Thinking about this the past day or so has made me realize how much of a glutton I really am. I am way to eager to eat, sampling food before it is even on the table.

St. Thomas Aquinas
[LIST]
]Laute* - eating food that is too luxurious, exotic, or costly
]Nimis* - eating food that is excessive in quantity
]Studiose* - eating food that is too daintily or elaborately prepared
]Praepropere* - eating too soon, or at an inappropriate time
]Ardenter* - eating too eagerly.
[/LIST]

St. Gregory the Great

St. Gregory the Great, a doctor of the Church, described five ways by which one can commit sin of gluttony, and corresponding biblical examples for each of them:

[LIST=1]
]Eating before the time of meals in order to satisfy the palate. Biblical example: Jonathan eating a little honey, when his father Saul commanded no food to be taken before the evening.[1Sa 14:29]
*]
Seeking delicacies and better quality of food to gratify the "vile sense of taste." Biblical example: When Israelites escaping from Egypt complained, "Who shall give us flesh to eat ? We remember the fish which we did eat in Egypt freely ; the cucumbers and the melons, and the leeks and the onions and the garlic," God rained fowls for them to eat but punished them 500 years later.[Num 11:4]
*]
Seeking after sauces and seasonings for the enjoyment of the palate. Biblical example: Two sons of Eli the high priest made the sacrificial meat to be cooked in one manner rather than another. They were met with death.[1Sa 4:11]
*]
Exceeding the necessary amount of food. Biblical example: One of the sins of Sodom was "fullness of bread."[Eze 16:49]
*]
Taking food with too much eagerness*, even when eating the proper amount, and even if the food is not luxurious. Biblical example: Esau selling his birthright for ordinary food of bread and pottage of lentils. His punishment was that the "profane person . . . who, for a morsel of meat sold his birthright," we learn that "he found no place for repentance, though he sought it carefully, with tears." [Gen 25:30]
[/LIST]
The fifth way is worse than all others, said St. Gregory, because it shows attachment to pleasure most clearly.

-Tim-


#17

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