December 13th, 1980, Serial No. 00368

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Monastic Spirituality Set 1 of 12

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And, before anything else, let me give you a few references. Your father, Robert, doesn't give as much space to poverty as he has to conversion of life and the past of it. It's a complex subject, but there's a limit to how much you can usefully say about it. With regard to readings, you'll find that the biblical aspect is presented pretty thoroughly as usual in the Dictionary of Biblical Theology. The article here, the key article, is Poor, P-O-O-R. And then, also, Pfeiffer brings in pretty fully the biblical doctrine, whereas Roberts doesn't have time for it, you see, he just touches it here and there and passes it. Then there's this article, which I'm going to refer to today in review for Religious


Entitled Models of Poverty by Gerald Grosz, he's a Juju. It's in this issue, July 1975. I'll put it on the shelf and then I'll have a Xerox on it. It may be useful for you to read this, because it presents, as you'll see, different points of view on poverty and how you can just conceive it in completely different ways, or at least different aspects, which you can't do without, you can't do with just one notion of poverty. There's a book called Dedicated Poverty, which is probably the most thorough study that we have in the history of poverty, by Amor Hearn, 1973, he's a Dominican. Dedicated Poverty, It's History and Theology. So as you'd expect, he gives a treatment of St. Thomas' section on poverty, as well as the whole history. And, of course, when they talk about poverty, they're talking about, he's talking in particular


about religious poverty, poverty in the religious world, and religious communities. Then, in the Sayings of the Fathers, there's a book, you know, book, what is it, six, that a monk should possess nothing. That's in Westernist literature, pages 77 to 82. Now, St. Benedict's Doctrine on Poverty, Roberts covers it, in fact, he repeats all the passages which are relevant, so we won't have to go out of Roberts to find that. There's a Crook's edition called Poverty, Who Needs It, by David Knight. He's got these charming titles. The other one is Obedience, Who Wants It, or Who Can Stand It. So chastity, I don't know, he's got, that's in his book. He covers that in that Cloud by Night, Fire by Day, or whatever it is. So he doesn't, these are extras to bring sort of these other two vows under the same treatment that he gives to chastity in his book. I think that's what he did. It's pretty good. He depends a lot on Rahner, but he's got his own point of view, which is kind of radical.


Rahner has an article entitled The Theology of Poverty, and this Theological Investigation, Volume 8, it's kind of a long article, but it's an easy article to read, unlike some of his theological articles. This one's pretty, it goes all the way from 168 to 214, something like that. The section I gave most attention to is the second section on the theology, trying to find the theological essence of poverty. Then there's a book which came out recently entitled Less and More, Less Is More, The Art of Voluntary Poverty. I borrowed this one from Gary the Cook. We've been trying to order it, but it's out of print right now. This is the kind of book that people buy. This is an anthology of texts from all over the place on poverty. Here's Heraclitus, To be temperate is to be a virtue, that one's not too sad.


To be content with what one has is to be rich, that's from Tao Te Ching, and so on, all over the place. For every pleasure, money is useless, living is bright. You don't have to preach on all these things. That's all. From the East, some from Christian tradition, general culture, it's broken down into useful categories. So this one will be on the shelf too, when I'm not reading it myself, but it'll be in great demand. We'll get another copy when we can. The Commodities Constitution, Schemate, Poverty, and Work, that's a fundamental question. Okay so much for references. Let's start on Robert's, his introduction to the subject, page 66.


The first thing he tries to do is to relate poverty to what he's been talking about already, and especially to virginity, consecrated virginity, chastity. So he says virginity is the central and most primitive nucleus of the life of the world. Remember he said that conversion of life is the heart of the monastic life, and that the heart of conversion of life is chastity. So nucleus, center, core, part, whatever you want to call it. Religious poverty, renunciation of goods, causes this consecration to the kingdom of heaven to reach into new dimensions of human existence, so it goes beyond your own self to the things that are around you. Your reach into the world is affected by poverty. Remember B. Griffith's plan of the three vows, the three renunciations, how he lined them up. First of all you renounce what's outside of yourself, and he moves in the direction of the higher goods, which is a little different from the other, starting with chastity.


He says first you renounce what's outside of yourself, the things in a sense that are lower than yourself, then you renounce, he says, the body, through chastity, but this is maybe not quite fair, probably not a fair quotation of him either, but just to say you renounce the body through chastity is not singular, because you renounce certain kinds of relationships and family and all that. But then your ultimate renunciation, he says, is through obedience where you renounce the self. Now that's a little oversimplified, but it's useful. You move in a more interior direction in a sense. You can look at that from another point of view and you wouldn't agree with it. But the first sight, and also after, is a useful first scheme, moving inside. Obedience can reach deeper in a way, a bit more comprehensive than renunciation. And the ultimate challenge is through obedience.


Obedience can improve. Okay, now he looks at the connection between virginity and poverty, and he says, first of all, virginity is a radical kind of poverty, and it's a poverty of what, really? It's a poverty of relationship, right? Virginity means that you renounce wife and family, so you renounce the most precious relationships that a person can have on a human level. And so you renounce that which really is most precious for a person, and that's certainly poverty, because relationship is the most precious thing in the world, in favor of a deeper relationship. And then he says at the same time that poverty is related to virginity in this way, that it extends virginity over material things. Now that's an interesting point of view. What could he mean by that? Extends virginity over material things. Now it's easy to put it into a few words that don't really catch the depth of what he's saying there. He says, material goods are left behind and by that very fact transformed by the light


of the resurrection, as it shines upon them through a human heart's purified of the possessive instincts. Well, that's pretty good. It's as if the heart is restored to virginity by non-possessiveness, as if the world and things in some way are violated by being possessed, by being grabbed inappropriately by one person, at least in a certain way. Now, possessiveness, to have things, is one thing, to have, to grab things, to grasp things, to be inwardly possessive, to be jealously possessive and attached to something else. So we're talking about two different things. To possess something is not necessarily a sign of greed. Most people have to possess something just in order to exist, in order to keep their families going, so. Nevertheless, this is a kind of other order, so that you can call it, when he says an irradiation of virginity over material things, he's also talking about what? He's talking about the eschatological point of view, an irradiation of the resurrection over material things in some way.


The kingdom in which things will not have to be appropriated and possessed, and won't have to be deeds and boundary lines and so on, we won't have anything individually, we won't need to, because we'll learn everything in common. And to say in common does not mean the kind of sharing by which you lose the other person's participation. So, he's got something pretty deep when he brings virginity and poverty together. I just happen to remember that quant verge of Merton again, remember that virgin point that he talks about, the experience of living in that interior place within the soul, within the heart, which he speaks of as a point of virginity, a point of purity, a point of poverty at the same time. He says it's a point of absolute poverty, and at the same time he talks about it as a virgin point. It's a point which cannot be touched or appropriated, utilized by us, exploited,


placed in God's place as it is. So, external poverty is kind of an expression of this spiritual reality. Okay, now he gets to types of religious poverty, and this is a bewildering thing. In fact, Rana, when he sets out to write about religious poverty, he has to make a long apology for the fact that he's not going to be able to end up with a neat answer. He's not going to be able to boil it down to one simple theological principle. The essence of poverty. First of all, he says what he's trying to do. This means that we have set ourselves an extremely difficult task. I cannot hope and the reader should not expect to arrive at any very satisfying answer to the question we have set ourselves in this inquiry. We must content ourselves with throwing some light on the actual question itself and sketching in some partial answers here and there. The reason why the question posed here simply does not admit of any simple answer is that


the subject of it, namely poverty, is a concept that can hardly be apprehended in any simple or unambiguous sense. It's always ambiguous. It's always complex. Of course, we might deduce doctrines which have a very profound basis in theology. Prior to any question of the reasons why a man should commit himself to a life of poverty, it's extremely difficult to obtain any one clear idea of what poverty is, viewed simply and straightforwardly as an objective phenomenon in its own right. Now, we're going to have to think about it a little bit in order to come to that conclusion, in order to verify that for ourselves. I think it's true. And it's because of poverty, really, that we have a very difficult task. It's because it reaches into so many areas and because it's so subject to, also, diversities in culture and diversities in times, and because so many different purposes can affect material, so many different intentions of the heart, purposes, goals, and uses can involve material


things, which is what's in question when we talk about poverty. He says, in fact, this has always been the case. The history of religious life throughout the two millennia of its existence, the 2,000 years, has been, one might almost be justified in saying, a constant record of shifts and variations in the interpretation of poverty in itself. The most famous ones have been, like, among the Franciscans, between the strict interpretation of poverty and the broader interpretation of poverty. That's because they chose poverty as their specialization, their specific point. But the same thing has been true in religious orders as a whole, also among denominators. It may perhaps be true that the actual motives and causes which lie behind the practice of poverty have also always been a matter of dispute. If we look into the matter more closely, we find that in different ethics and in different religious orders, very different motivations have been assigned for the practice of it. But the main point is that the actual ways in which poverty in itself has been practiced


and defined have been quite different from each other. Poverty considered as a concrete objective phenomenon is different today from what it was yesterday, and different in one order, one religious order, from what it is in another. We cannot expect any answer which is really theologically satisfying concerning the religious meaning and the theological significance of these matters, or concerning their religious motivation. For the concept of poverty, so far as what is really meant in the concrete is concerned, is no longer clear at all, and moreover is no longer capable of being clear. He's talking about nowadays, contemporary sin. Also because we're no longer in any position to obtain a clear insight into the phenomenon in which this one particular factor, namely the concrete economic situation as it exists today, its nature and the lines along which it tends to develop.


So he seems to have encountered quite a bit of frustration in this one. But he says, even if you can't arrive at a satisfactory theoretical picture, it doesn't mean that you can't concretely live poverty. He says, by way of reassurance we may reiterate once more that for men who are intelligent and wise, a lack of clarity and a failure to solve all the problems at the theoretical level need not necessarily be extended to the sphere of practical action as well. There are thousands upon thousands of factors in human life as lived in the concrete which have proved themselves to be reasonable and valuable, beneficial and sound by being tried and tested in the actual processes of living, and which nevertheless it's extremely difficult to speculate about so as to arrive at any clear theoretical conclusion. So the practical knowledge which we gain in the spontaneous and uninhibited process of living our lives is always greater than that which we acquire through speculation, which can never adequately cover life in all its dimensions. One of the happy things about Leiner is that he's got common sense. It turns out that there's a kind of, even though you can't find one theoretical explanation


or justification of poverty, you can't find one way in which it's universally good, it is kind of an instinct at the bottom of it which is very simple. The interior attraction towards poverty is a very simple thing. The experience of a desire for poverty is a very simple thing in the heart of a person who has a monastic vocation, for instance. Even though once you try to objectify it, you either find a concrete way of living it exactly for a whole community, or when you try to theologize about the whole thing you run into a kind of... It seems like a very simple thing in a person's heart. In fact, it's a movement towards simplicity. It's a very movement towards simplicity. And yet, whenever you bring it out, try to express it, it turns out to be quite complex. There's a difficulty of relating the interior with the exterior. He goes in a little bit to the diversity of types and motivations and aspects of poverty.


I don't want to keep reading the chunks of this article. But in each religious order, the interpretation of poverty tends to be different. It cannot be denied that in the tradition of poverty, too, and in the tradition of the theology of poverty, various motivations and interpretations of poverty have been assigned. The poverty of the ascetics of the apostolic age and of early Christendom prior to the emergence of monasticism, properly so-called, under Antony, but still more under Poconius, was a different phenomenon from the poverty of the Cenobites, both in its material form and necessarily, to some extent, in its motivation also. The poverty of the pure contemplative on the one hand and of the active apostle on the other cannot, in reality, simply be identical one with the other. And therefore, neither can the motivations of the two kinds of poverty be identical. Poverty of life as practiced in a given religious order without diminishing its essential theological identity derives a distinctive stamp of its own from the distinctive characteristics


which apply to that particular order as a whole. And therefore, the motivation of this poverty, likewise, is a different specification from that in other orders. And every reform movement of religious orders and all controversies have, in fact, always entailed disputes about poverty, too. And these go far beyond the dispute about poverty in the Franciscan order. So, Robert begins to talk about the diversity of types of poverty. He says, practice of poverty leaves ample room for the particular purpose of each religious institute. No other value depends so much on the spirit in which it is practiced. And here, he doesn't mean so much whether you practice it in a spirit of fervor or a he means whether you practice it in a Franciscan spirit or in a Benedictine spirit. So, it's important to understand the mentality, particular nature of the community. He gives an example.


The use of material goods on the part of a religious administrator of a hospital in the city versus a missionary. Sometimes, administrative people in hospitals have to be rather lavish in the use of material things because they're concerned with preservation of life. It's a whole different set of values than you have in another context. In a missionary context, or in a monastic context. And the reason, he says, is simply that poverty is a means. It's not an end. A means, according to Aquinas, towards the perfection of love and the fulfillment of one's vocation. So, you've got two lines there. One is the general end, the common end of all the religious communities, which is perfect charity. And the other one is a particular vocation. And that's the one, largely, that causes the diversity. Not entirely, but largely. Because one artist got to teach, another artist got to preach, another one has to run a hospital in town. And this is really going to influence the way that they think about poverty. The fact that you can even talk about poverty in all of these cases, though, means that


there's something very simple pulling all of this together, you see. It's interesting where we run into the complexities, but there's something very simple at the bottom of it. It's like a force that's pulling in the same direction through all of these complexities. Otherwise, why would we be talking about poverty? Why would we consider it a positive thing? Anyway, there are three interacting reasons for this variety. The wide gamut of internal dispositions and graces. So, that includes the different orders and different charisms, and also different people in the same community. The complexity of today's pluralistic culture and the different tasks that the workers in the Kingdom of God have to bring to completion. Now, those different tasks affect the different religious orders, but, say, in a given monastic order, well, the scope is going to be limited. The pluralism is going to be somewhat more limited. But one order may have a... If you're running a university, you have a very different view of poverty than you're


going to have. Especially if you cater to students in general, you have to be on the same level, largely economically, as the facilities and everything else, as the other universities. You have to be competitive. It's going to be much different than if you're, say, a missionary or a charity. Cutting down. Let's get out. The complexity of today's pluralistic culture. Rana brings that up very well. That it's a weird thing. The way religious orders are poorer in some ways nowadays than they were in the old days, but they're much richer in other ways. He talks about the fact that if you compare the proportion between the wealth of a religious community and the total wealth of, say, the community in which it lives, it's going to be much poorer today than it was in the Middle Ages. Of course, it's not a Christian culture, so that explains part of it. But on the other hand, if you compare the amount of actual material goods which a religious community has to live with the amount of material goods which that community would have had


in the Middle Ages, it's much greater. Because there are all kinds of machines and things like that. They're just taken for granted by everybody, at least in the American culture, which simply didn't exist in those days. All kinds of things for human comfort. So it's very complex. Add it to the fact that just in order to do his work, many a religious has to use all kinds of things, maybe very sophisticated things in some cases. At the very least, you know, a typewriter or a little card. And this is the ordinary level of work today. Then he's going to ask the question, what is Benedictine poverty? Then it's, what is Cistercian poverty? We're not so interested in Cistercian poverty. We are interested in Benedictine poverty. Even though the Comaldolese aramidical life takes a different tack from the Benedictine path in general, you'll find that, you may as well mention this now, that right down


the middle of the Comaldolese thing there runs a tension. There's a tension between the aramidical and the cenobitical. So you're likely to have two different interpretations of poverty. Because the solitary life always tends towards a more intense poverty. The cenobitical life, especially when it branches out into the cultural and into more involvement with the world, on a cultural level, on an apostolic level, tends to have a less intense kind of poverty. And also a different conception of poverty because the element of communal living is going to be much longer. Having things in common rather than having private property is much more stressed in the cenobitical life. It can't be stressed quite to the same extent in the solitary life, simply because people are separated and have to have more things by themselves, more things off, each one to himself. That's not an absolutely good distribution. I'd like to look at this article of Grosch on the different models of religious poverty


now. He's basing his study on a book by Avery Dulles entitled Models of the Church. Remember where he's got, some of you didn't know that because we were talking about it. He's got those five different models of the church. And he says that up to the time of Vatican II, we more or less all subconsciously were thinking of the church in one way, and that was in the institutional way, the institutional way. Where the church is largely thought of in terms of the clergy, the hierarchy, and as a kind of magisterium, a teaching and governing body of clergy. And sometimes the people didn't even think of themselves exactly as being the church, but rather being subject to the church, not exaggerating the sort of caricature of the institutional model. Or at the very least, the church was thought of largely in terms of external structure, and therefore in terms of common belief, things to be believed, things to be done, things


to be obeyed, and things to be performed, the liturgical dimension, the ritual dimension. As I said, that's something of the caricature. It's very hard to present the institutional model fairly, especially now, since there's such a strong reaction against it. It's indispensable. And then he says, well, in order really to grasp the character of the church and to be able to love it, we have to bring out its other dimensions. And so he proceeds to draw out these other four dimensions, one being out of mystical communion, which balances off the external dimension. It's the interior spiritual dimension. And yet if you only concentrate on that one, you get too interiorized, you get too abstract, too divorced from the concrete external material, day-to-day life. So then he brings in the sacramental model, which joins the first two, the external or institutional and the mystical. And then he has a couple of others. The so-called parole model, the Protestant model, the preacher of the word. Church is, as it were, the prophetic voice which preaches the gospel to the world, announces


the event of Christ. And then finally the servant model, the church as sort of being at the service of the world in the way that Jesus washed the people of the south. Now, according to Grosz, you can apply the same thing to poverty. Poverty being a complex thing, you can't get it all at one point of view. I don't think he says here which point of view we're coming out of, or if he considers that we've come out of one model. Because I think we've been coming out of a mixture of models here, more so than with the church, in which we all tended to have one. Largely because of the pluralism of religious orders, you see, each one would have inherited its own slant on poverty. So it wasn't quite as uniformly fixed as with thinking about the church. The aim of this article is to do for our notion of poverty what Dulles has done for our notion of the church. He goes into the unsatisfactory situation when he goes to poverty, and he thinks it's


due to a too exclusive concentration on one model of poverty. He doesn't say which one, and so I think he must understand that it was too narrow a focus for each order, perhaps, on its own private model of poverty, not seeing well enough the other dimensions. So then he picks out seven of them, and it's useful, just let these sort of stand in your mind for a while, alongside each other as well as you can. The first one is poverty is communitarian sharing. Now, where do you find that? In the scriptures. Yeah, the Jerusalem community, actually, the Apostles. Chapter 4, for instance. The whole group of believers was united heart and soul. No one claimed for his own use anything that he had, because everything they owned was held in common. Now, this has sometimes been used also as a model for monastic poverty. As we go through these different models, keep in mind that what we're interested in is locating where monastic poverty stands among these different aspects of poverty, these


different dimensions of poverty, how it integrates the different dimensions. Because as I say, in some way, every kind of religious poverty is going to involve all of these aspects in some proportion. But the mixture is going to be different for each religious order. So monasticism and, say, commandeus monasticism and semi-aramidicalism is going to have its own particular mixture, its own physiognomy. And then he points out the advantages and disadvantages of each one. Now, this kind of model is a little bit independent of what you have or how much you have, isn't it? But what you have can be put in common. Its advantage is that it focuses on the equality of all. Also, it's a beautiful expression of that koinonia, which is the sharing in God's life. It's a beautiful expression of the reality of Christianity, of the coming of God into


the world as the common possession and the common life of those who believe in him. So this is simply expressed externally, the sharing of goods. The truth is something about it. Almost any centributical community will tend in that direction, at least to some extent, although not entirely. You'll always find other dimensions that creep in, as we'll see, especially with the individual, because the individual, he'll have this certain level of poverty of the community, but then he's going to feel something in himself calling for more. Okay, he's going to want to simplify his life more or follow Jesus more or something like that. Then he gives the disadvantages, too. Like with this one, it becomes more difficult to live. His life becomes more complex. And everybody can't sort of have the level of equality that you find in the Lewis and Benedict program, where each monk is going to have his one or two tunics and his pencil and his knife and his socks and shoes and that's it.


You know, everybody's got his blanket. But it's not that way anymore. It can't be that way, because people are doing different things. You know, they're studying different things, books or something. Very difficult to conserve that perfectly. And then people start comparing themselves with one another and so on. But it's part of our Christian legacy. It has to be part of religious life. Also, it falls short where you get things to this point that you say, well, it's all right to have anything as long as you have it with permission, with the permission of the superior. See, sometimes this model of poverty, as it gets detached from the absolute amount of material things that you have and the way that you use them, becomes purely formalized in that way. It's okay to have anything as long as... Is poverty as simplicity of life? That of the frugal lifestyle or simplicity of life, this is very attractive to people of a monastic religion, this particular one. The idea of simplifying everything down. I think this book goes very much in that direction, although not entirely. The idea that it's better to be poor than it is to be rich.


It's better to have a simple life than it is to have a complex life with many things. It's better to be able to concentrate your energies and your attention. And the less you have, the more you can focus, the more you can be centered, or the more you can materialize. Okay? It seems like a lot of people are becoming aware of that, especially when they're objecting to wealth, or family, or religious things. And they may not even realize that they're doing it for religious reasons, they may not be thinking about those things, it's an instinct. This model focuses clearly on poverty as a fact, as material poverty. The spiritual foundation of simplicity of life is that it aids to singularity of purpose and focus, namely on the Lord and his work. Nothing else matters that much. Where do you find that in the Gospel? It seems to me that that one is very clear in the Gospel. If you want to be my follower, go and sell all that you have and come follow me.


In other words, it's as if you have to exchange something for this closeness with the Lord. In order to follow Jesus, you have to be poor. It's that sort of decision. And so it's a simplification. Also, remember again those parables of the treasure hidden in the field and the pearl. Okay? It's the same situation there. One thing is worth everything else, and so you give up everything else. It's a simplification. And the one thing is Christ. This one is easily linked with the model of poverty as union of the poor. Whereas that one of sharing in community, not necessarily, because a community can still have kind of a high standard of living and separate itself off from the poor. Not necessarily, but it can. You have to begin to consider the community as a larger community, including the poor. There's a community outside the community.


The advantage of this model of poverty is that it keeps one mindful of his union with the poor Christ and honest in terms of what he's spent. Now, you wouldn't think there'd be any disadvantages, but he's pretty good at bringing out the shadows of each one of these models that gets kept by itself. His primary disadvantage is that it can cause one to be so absorbed in bookkeeping and penny pinching that he loses the perspective of apostolic service. Or that even if he doesn't have any apostolic ministry, that he just gets too scrupulous about the whole thing. In other words, if you make simplicity of life, there's a kind of neurosis which tends towards simplicity of life, which also can be called petty-mindedness, or fusillanimity, or I don't know. It's the opposite of what St. Thomas calls magnanimity, or great heartedness. In other words, some people can tend towards simplicity of life for a kind of misery almost, a kind of meanness of life, in a purely natural way which is not even helpful. It may seem strange to say that, but it's true.


These things are not necessarily good. There's almost always some kind of a sick version, a sick imitation of these things too. A person can tend towards simplicity of life because he's afraid to do anything else. And then it's not really a virtue. There's this principle that if something is a virtue, then it should make a call more on your courage. It should appeal more to your courage than it does to your cowardice, or to your energy than it does to your laziness, to your strength than it does to your weakness. Okay, number three. Poverty is apostolic disponibility. Apostolic what? Disponibility. He puts it in quotation marks because there isn't any such word. Because you see this in Italian all the time, disponibilità, but there isn't any word in there. They have to make it up in English, because in Western you don't find it.


It means that you're available, okay? You're available to people. And they're thinking of this particularly for people in the active religious life, where you really have to give yourself. So here you consider poverty not so much in terms, you don't think of yourself so much, but you think of the people whom you're serving, and of how can I be of best service to these people, of best use. Well, if I'm really going to accomplish the most, I'm going to need a car, okay? You might need certain other things. But you're detached from these things, so if somebody else needs something that you have, you're likely to give it to them. Also, you're going to extend this kind of poverty to other things besides your material possessions, because you're considering your whole self, right, as something that you can share with other people. And so you're going to give your time, your energies, your knowledge, whatever to other people you like. So that's got a lot to recommend. As for Marx, it's not quite that appropriate, of course, because we don't have that mission. But you can see how it is very empirical. There's a kind of beauty in being able to have and not have the equal freedom.


Like St. Paul, I mean, he says, I know how to abound, and I know how to be poor. I can do all things in Him who strengthens me. There's a kind of beauty in not having a compulsive need to be poor, or a compulsive need to be rich. Okay? And I was just thinking about that statement when he was doing it. He begins by saying, I have learned the secrets of how to be abound. Yeah, I think he says that, yeah. So it's kind of like a secret. That secret is sort of, it seems like he's trying to say, it's got a spiritual grasp on it. You have to go through something in order to get there. It's not just in the head. He's free to do it, in other words. He knows he can do that again. I can be poor. This model recognizes a wider dimension of poverty than just what involves material goods. Basically, one is poor in order to be at the disposal of others. Therefore, all that one has, in fact, all that one is, is at the beck and call of people in need. This model of poverty calls for total self-giving.


It also applies to one's person. One's knowledge, talents, energy, and time are also at the claim of others. The advantages are numerous. For one thing, the focus is outward, another centered. The model is very incarnational, taking seriously the use of material goods for apostolic purposes. It also acts as a corrective for too introspective or too literal-minded practice of poverty. That meanness part that we were talking about before. And also, just thinking too much about yourself. That's what happens when we start thinking about our virtues and what we're striving to do to improve ourselves. Another advantage is its flexibility. It allows various practices of poverty depending on the persons to whom ministry is offered. One disadvantage of the model is that the norm often becomes efficiency rather than apostolic effectiveness. So it's more efficient to drive to work than to take public transportation and so on. Or you need your own camera, or you need this, or you need that in order to serve the people you serve. It can easily get mixed with a lot of self-interest and raise you to a fairly high standard of


living pretty quickly. But that includes, say for instance, the way the bishop's driving around in the museums and things. I mean, in the beginning it starts out to be... Starts out in a week. Yeah. They think a bishop has to have a car. Well, he's got to have a car. And then somebody gives him a Cadillac. And he's justified. It easily becomes exaggerated. Especially when other things are mixed with it. For instance, the benefactors. People very often want to give you something that's better than what you need. It's hard to turn it down, I would say. You get an idea about it. Can you do it without insulting the person who gave it to you? Yeah. It's ridiculous. It was as if set up to be, you know, rebucked. They must have written a script for it. That's why she did it.


Sure. Instead of shipping it to India for $10,000, you know. Well, I think it was given to him by Indians. Oh. When he went there. And then he just... Sure. Can you see her cruising the streets? So, first of all, he gave it away. Oh, he gave it away. First he gave it away to her, it was a gift to him. Yeah. And then she converted it to money for the poor. So. Who's got it now? The poor. Furthermore, in practice, this model is often confusing, since almost anything, even seeming contradictory, can be justified in the Star Wars series. It's possible for somebody to come to the conclusion he needs more leisure time in order to be more present and relaxed when he encounters others. And so, in the name of epistolic relaxation, he lays his own stereo set of portable televisions,


takes a winter vacation in Florida, or a summer cruise in the Caribbean. This happens to us. The important thing is discernment in the spirit of detachment. Generally, if this model is to function successfully, it needs to be complemented by a corrective model that summons to material poverty. In other words, you always need something that puts that absolute scale of material poverty back in there, just as we did with the model of community sharing. Since that's not related directly to material poverty, you've got to bring something else in, another dimension, another viewpoint, that says, well, yes, you can be poor too, practically, materially. Quantitatively. Number four, poverty is visible witness. This model calls forth a traditional value that's always been considered to be embodied in the vows, namely the value of visible witness. We say that the people who make vows in the religious order do it in order to become witnesses to something. Religious life has always been looked at in these terms in this way.


In the traditional theology of the vows, they acted as a constant, inspiring reminder that spiritual things are more important than material things. Thus, poverty points to a freedom from the materialistic values of our society. The advantage of this model, it's contemporary. The need for profit is always there, even when times change. Being poor leaves us free to challenge our world with the radical message of love to which Christ calls us. It's a length of social justice. It seems the disadvantages are numerous. And one of them, I had a little trouble understanding this, but one of the disadvantages is that simply it's very often not true. In other words, if you take the status quo at present, you'll find that very often the witness of religious to poverty is a counter-witness instead of a positive witness. So this model is maybe a little too idealistic. It doesn't quite fit. It's aimed too high, so that in practice, the opposite turns out to be true.


You can say, well, it should be true, but the point is the positive is not. Are you saying that no communities really reflect this? Well, he doesn't say no communities do it. By and large, communities don't. But by and large, religious communities don't give a conspicuous witness to poverty. I see. But the little brothers of Jesus, they give a very strong sign, a very strong witness to poverty. So do the missionaries of trouble. But those are a minority. Second disadvantage.


This may surprise you. It's divisive of religious community. When one starts looking at visible witness, one sees many things, and it's hard not to be judgmental. One can always justify one's own behavior as the other witness got it. Often, the person who calls for less use of material goods becomes cynical, frustrated, and bitter, giving each with a bitter response, the prophet of his own community, and so on. It's also very difficult for him to avoid a pharisaic, well, I am better than you are, because you are. On the other hand, the person who is challenged has usually justified his way of life as necessary for apostolic service, and consequently sees the challenger as someone who is idealistic and unrealistic. So, maybe hypocritical. Needs to be united with the monists. Living out this model of poverty might lead communities to sell their property and give the proceeds to the poor, as Jesus advised the rich from heaven and hell to do, or get


rid of emergency funds that have been built up and trust more fully in those projects. Number five. Poverty as union with the poor and exploited. This is a very contemporary model. Currently, the vow of poverty is being very much influenced by the theology of liberation in the third world. At the root of this theology is the recognition that economic and social freedom greatly affect one's spiritual freedom. This model challenges the other models of poverty, which seem too narrow and limited. This model treats poverty as an evil, because very often we've seen, in Christian tradition, that the poverty is a good, it's a virtue. It's something to be sought, something that has value in itself. This looks at it as something to be eradicated and get a lot of the poorest to be shared until their oppressors turn the tables. Material poverty is a subhuman situation which was caused by man's sin, by a selfish economic


and political exploitation. Material poverty is not a Christian ideal, but an evil caused by social injustice and therefore something to be eradicated. In this model, the religious embraces poverty as an act of love for the poor and exploited. It voluntarily chooses solidarity with them in protest against the poverty which has been forced upon the poor. Love leads to identification with the other, in this case, with those who are oppressed. That's a radically different point of view from how we usually have in considering religious poverty and religious murders. It has to make a stint. I think that in the latest AIM bulletin, or interest, poverty was the topic, and they talked mostly about poverty. Yeah. What does mind-boggled poverty mean in relation to the poor? Yeah. And the eastern monastic groups are concerned about that. Especially over there. And to look at poverty as a good, as a good against the poor, that's a crazy idea.


Especially if you look at it as a means to your own perfection, and sort of not taking into account the problems behind it. I think most people see it that way. I mean, you bring up poverty, and you say, well, look, it's a holy burden. Yeah. Not a state of poverty. I mean, not a state of poverty, but poverty you can see. Do you really call it poverty? Some people distinguish poverty from destitution, or from misery, or from squalor. It's where your life is really at stake. That is, those people are dying. I mean, people are dying in the street. And certainly, religious poverty has never meant that. It's never meant really putting yourself on a level. Because there's a kind of common sense that pulls you back from the end, because there's no use doing that. There's no use sharing a lot of medical, unless I can help you.


There's no use putting yourself among the sick. It's better to try to heal the sick. To bring them to where you are, rather than going all in on your brother. There's something about the monk sharing the healing. That's right. And they're not like monks in communities. Well, sometimes, in other areas, you get the monk doing that. Like the monks who would, you know, barbarians would come and invade the desert or something, and they'd start slaughtering Christians or something like that. The monks would stay there in order to share the lot, the people, something like that. This is a little different, but you can see how monks do have a part in that, because their thing is not so much what they do, but what they are. What they are. It's more interior. So they're going to be maybe less meaningful in terms of doing, but how they are, where they are, is extremely important. And where they are should be in the human condition. And if the human condition in that time and place was to be threatened in that way, they


should be part, many of them, part of that. So that to share the poverty of an area, of your area, for instance, something like that. And then, I don't know what you say about the Russian fools for Christ, for instance, because I don't know to what extent they shared the actual physical poverty of the people on the street. It seems like you could see the distinction between squalor and, say, poverty in Mother Teresa's outfit, which... That's right. Like, the Indians who joined her actually raised their standard of living. Her sisters get fed, I guess, you know, even if they were living very badly. There's kind of a human minimum, I think, that needs to be maintained. And sort of an order owes you that minimum, I would say. What the individual does is not to hers, in some ways, even if he wants to go on a hunger strike or something. For example, Pope John says that when a person has something that he's hungry for, you


know, extra, that it's to keep it inside. That comes from the Fathers, remember? He says that the poor man who is starving to death, if you have food that could feed him, you're killing him. If you don't give it to him, they put him in real strong time, right? Turn over at the same time, Christmas is coming. I think there's a part of it, too, that says something about you pour out money on use of things or you pour out water for them. Yeah, because they do. The advantage of this model of poverty is that it does, in fact, witness to poverty. Furthermore, it's epistolic because it points to, you know, real needs. Furthermore, it treats man as a whole, recognizing the influence that social structures have on his ability to become free. It's very contemporary. As a matter of fact, in the end, he says that this is the key model for our time and that the others somehow are to be built into this one. The disadvantage is that it very easily becomes one-sided. If you're for the oppressed, then you're against the oppressor.


If you're for the poor, then you tend to be against the rich. So it tends to polarize it in that way, which is not necessarily appropriate for religious who have to stand back from the wrong kind of fights, obviously from taking up arms, but less obviously on other levels. It would be quite easy to become violent, you know, at a certain point. Or to allow yourself to be violent. And probably these things can't really be official until you're involved in them. Until you're in that kind of conflict. There was this priest who was telling me about this, when he was in the Baptist monastery, especially in the beginning, he just came from being politically active.


Was this the Holy Cross priest or something that he was? No. He wasn't here? He did not be a chaplain. A chaplain. And he was a very violent priest, too. One thing that was hard for me to relate with is the unconsciousness of the monastery, compared to the tribulations that people are fighting for, like the St. John's Revenge, to have the solidarity of people who were striking certain products. Boycotts. Boycotts. And one was orange, and a certain brand of orange. And we went to the Sabbaths, and we were working out in the fields, and we bought the same oranges that everybody else had in Boydville, and we wanted to raise the consciousness of God. So I don't know what to say.


You know how our relationship with that came about. I've never really formed as strongly as I want. I think it's good for us to share in those boycotts when we're convinced of the justice of everything. And it's good for the monks to have a consciousness and to feel it in them in some part. But it can become a mistaken focus of attention at a certain point, can be overdone. And that desperation to find some justification for your life at a certain point, you know, you can get too far into those things. You've got to make sure it's right. And then those things now are done, even, you know, the superiors of religious, their association recommends these things at a certain point, like the Great Boycott or something like that, the bishops even in the end, so they become very, pretty easy to find out about someone. I don't agree with that, but I get annoyed because life gets so complicated at that point.


That's the problem. There's so many things to think about. And there's another one, like the guy who wrote the letter, he's here again, I haven't seen him, about when he got his check back from the Bank of America standpoint. He said, do you know that the Bank of America is lending money to the government? I said, no, I didn't know. So he demands that you change your bank account to another bank. Well, you change it to another bank and the next week a retreat will come along and say, well, do you know that they're sending money? You just can't know about all those things, you know. Your telephone wire came from Bolivia. It's probably involved with the suffering of the Indians. What can you do? You've got to live on this planet. When those things emerge to a sufficient extent that you can be sure of them, then, okay, but you can't be looking for them all the time when they're lost. The church should give a witness, but they're also religious communities.


But the monks are not going to be in the forefront of that kind of economic activity. This model, remember what we're on, this is one of your number report, needs compassion as its corrective. It needs the realization that the oppressor is very often just as oppressed by sin, by greed, competition, loneliness, and unhappiness as the one who is oppressed. And that's important, because remember, think of Martin in this respect, all right. Now Martin could be very, he could write in a violent way, but he also had a very great vision for not creating the non-violence. You don't put all the evil on the other side. In other words, you don't gain a kind of self-justification by allowing yourself to look forward and then put all the blame over there somewhere. Because the monk's business is to find the blame in his own heart, right, is to find the guilt in his own heart, to fight the spiritual battle there, not to project it on somebody else, even though that may seem irreducible. You see how it can be a kind of a diversion of the monk's purpose of his life's work.


It needs compassion as its corrective. It can focus too exclusively on material poverty and social oppression, and this is called the deeper freedom that comes to every person. And he talks about different ways that you can exercise this, through living and working among the poor. Well, not so easy for the monk to do that because he's in a community. To challenge the government about certain things, and also corporations. Nowadays, of course, if there are any investments to see that there's not any questionable things, things that can be part of exploitation, especially in the third world. Where's the fourth world? I don't think anybody talked about that in high school. Where's the fourth world? I don't know. I didn't see it. Calcutta? Calcutta would be fourth world. We're the second world. We're the new world. No, we're the first world. Are we? We're the first world. We got it made. Where's the second world? Because we used to be the new world. And the third world, I thought, was the developing nations. No, the second world is the communist nation.


Really? And the third world is developing nations. I thought the third world was African India, the worst. Economically. Yeah, I thought it was. The fourth world, I think, is even further rhetorical, worse. I just saw it the other day. Sixth, poverty is reliance on God alone. Now, this model of poverty is spiritual poverty. Poverty of spirit, the one of the Beatitudes, St. Matthew. This model cuts beneath material poverty to the root of all poverty, namely the human condition. To be a man is to be poor in the face of God and to rely on God alone. It's to recognize that before God, man of himself is nothing, he's powerless. This is the one that's related to virginity, I suppose. To be a man is to be a creature before the creator, to be utterly dependent on him for all. This model of poverty takes the human condition seriously and sees it as a vehicle for happiness


and grace. It's easy to see this one as related to the one we had just before. But this tends to be a more individual one, more solitary and more interior also. The spiritual basis for this model of poverty is the incarnation, where God accepts our humanity from the Philippines to his statement divine for the entry himself. The way to salvation, the way to freedom, is the acceptance of ourselves as we are in the world. The concrete embodiment of this model of poverty is usually expressed by detachment. One is detached from concerns about his own safety and goods and time and money. He seeks no security other than trust in God's providence. It's the same goal that poverty is simplicity of life points to. The advantage of this model is that the focus of one's attention beyond the material to the more ultimate situation of dependence on God and trust in his providence also serves as a basis for compassion when one accepts his union with all men and women in the Philippines.


The disadvantage of this model is that it can easily be divorced from the concrete existential situation of time and space, lead to non-involvement in the world. He says the concrete living out of this model will be a simple trust in God, neither seeking material goods nor avoiding them. I'm not so sure that that's true. Because in order to express trust in God, you've got to avoid material goods to a certain extent. It can't be purely interior. But what he's doing is he's abstracting, trying to purify this particular point of view, you see. So he interiorizes it in that way. But in matter of fact, it can't be as indifferent as that to more or less material goods. Because less is going to be more for this point of view, too, as far as trusting God. Otherwise, you can't help but rely on what you have. It's like Jesus says, you know, how hard it is for the rich man, the only rich man in the world. Harder than the pound of gold. Okay, we want to get to the end. And here's number seven. Poverty as union with the poor Christ.


The final model of poverty is that of mystical poverty, embraced simply out of desire to be one with Jesus. Or you can say also, possibly, simply to follow the word of Jesus in the gospel, which is going to lead us into the other knowledge. Jesus, who had nowhere to lay his head, and who emptied himself in becoming man. This is ultimately the most radical model, and offers no other justification for itself than what is given from the perspective of faith. I want to be fortunate because Jesus was born. The orientation of Christ, or the following of Christ, or whatever you choose to call it. This is the deepest in a way, from a Christian point of view. Not from a philosophical or purely human point of view, but purely Christian point of view. The spiritual basis for this model is identification with Christ. Ultimately, this is at the root of all the other forms of poverty. It is for a Christian, but not for another person. The advantage of this is it's compatible with all the other models. Reaches to the heart of the Christian revelation. Can't find any disadvantage, excuse me.


As long as it is not the exquisite one, it has to embrace the others. What did he call this one on this side? Union with the poor Christ. I suppose the Franciscan model...