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Reflections

voluntary poverty

This comes from an e-mail I wrote last week. I skimmed it to take out personal references but may have missed a couple.
Voluntary poverty, as it seems so far, is not simply a position of Dorothy Day or the Catholic Worker or anything along those lines- it is a calling that we all have through our baptism.
There are, I would theorize, many levels of voluntary poverty. You could have a large home that is open for everyone, sharing the gifts with which God has blessed you with those to whom they truly belong- God in the Mystical Body. You could, as St. Francis did, give up everything and wear a burlap sack. You could make all the money in the world but still live in a very modest home with the bulk of your cash assets being used for charity.
As the Holy Cross Constitution (4.34) says, “If we do not love the brothers whom we see, then we cannot love the God whom we have not seen.” Love, in all of its splendor, requires us to live as a community. Of course, there are various levels of that as well (hermits, for example, could live in spiritual community with all those whom they dedicate prayer). Continuing, living with love requires us to share among those we love. When a friend comes to Austin, all that I have is yours. The challenge is to extend that love beyond someone who I’m everso close to but to the least of my brothers in and outside the Mystical Body.
The thought has seemed to change over the years but the Mystical Body is the community of believers. Those who are bounded through their common baptism to the Cross and Resurrection of Christ. So yes, we must extend that love to the least of our brothers and sisters in Christ but futhermore, we are members of the human race. Our love should extend to the least our brothers and sisters in Human Existence.
My point is that while the method that Dorothy Day or St. Francis or anyone else used to live a life of voluntary poverty does not dictate to us how we are to discern that life, we are led by Christ to that life. There are probably infinite ways of actually living voluntary poverty in accordance with our own situations in the specific context of where we live but nevertheless, a life of compassion through action is required.

By Brandon Kraft

My life is an open-source book.

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