Growth in true poverty must involve both the works of mercy and the purification and emptying of our hearts. This reflection focuses, through the Gospel of Mathew 6:1-18, on the difficult process of the purification of our desires and the hypocrisy which lies hidden in all of us.
Virtue of Poverty II
Poverty brings forth chastity, and chastity brings forth obedience, which is the essence of Love. (Simple Path #66, p.204)
I. 63. THE PURIFICATION OF YOUR DESIRES —DIARY OF A MOC. P.187
The purification of your desires is the first stage of purification in My Sacred Heart. You begin to move only according to My desires and not yours. You no longer do what you want to do, nor go where you want to go, but now, you go only where I take you. You choose to live each day according to what is most difficult, not what is easiest. This will require a greater discipline of your will, greater silence, and stillness of soul in Me.
• Saint Augustin- Our heart longs for God:
- The entire life of a good Christian is, in fact, an exercise of holy desire.
- By desiring heaven, we exercise the powers of our soul. Now, this exercise will be effective only to the extent that we free ourselves from desires leading to infatuation with this world. Let me return to the example I have already used of filling an empty container. God means to fill each of you with what is good, so cast out what is bad! If he wishes to fill you with honey and you are full of sour wine, where is the honey to go? The vessel must be emptied of its contents and then be cleansed. Yes, it must be cleansed even if you have to work hard and scour it. It must be made fit for the new thing, whatever it may be.
•The virtue of poverty requires SACRIFICE because we must be willing to RENOUNCE to many things our flesh desires.
– Example: 1st level of poverty - buying clothes and then returning them…
– “Poverty consists in large measure in sacrifice. It means knowing how to do without the superfluous. And we find out what is superfluous not so much by theoretical rules as by that interior voice which tells us we are being led by selfishness or undue love of comfort.” (Interview with Saint Josemaria Escriva on the virtue of poverty)
– “Detachment is the key. Are we attached to the material things we have, or do we entrust our riches totally to the Lord, knowing that He gives and He takes away? Practicing virtue requires hard work and sacrifice. Practicing poverty as a virtue does not necessarily mean ridding ourselves of everything we own of which we’re fond, but it does require a deep inward dive to ask an honest question: how would I respond if this phone, cherished book, painting from a child, picture of a deceased loved one, treasured necklace, workshop, car, house, etc. were taken away? We might think the Lord would only ask us to spare the things we have in surplus – clothes, books, toys, the extra-full pantry – but He often asks us to give or let go of that which is precious.” (Embracing the Virtue of Poverty in Your Own Life, By Kenzie Key)
• 110. SPIRIT OF POVERTY —DIARY OF A MOC. P. 303
The spirit of poverty is lived when you allow the Holy Spirit, My Blessed Mother, and Myself to strip you of everything interiorly: your desires, expectations, plans, attachments, securities, consolations in friendships, even consolations from Me so that you are left completely empty. It is a soul that has been stripped of everything, that is empty and can be filled with My life…
• “We have to learn to live every virtue, and perhaps this is especially true of poverty. We have to learn to live; otherwise, it will be reduced to an ideal about which much is written but which no one seriously puts into practice.” (Interview with Saint Josemaria Escriva on the virtue of poverty)
II. Desires and Attachments of our hearts
• Mathew 6:1-18 (Ash Wednesday Gospel)
Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them;…
2 “Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men…
3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Ex. the woman who gave a coin in the temple)
5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men….(fake saint, falsehood, false piety) 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 7 “And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9 Pray then like this: Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread;
12 And forgive us our debts, As we also have forgiven our debtors;
13 And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil.
16 “And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men….18 that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you
– The desires to be seen, heard, and praised by others was the hidden intent in the hearts of the Pharisees, probably not consciously known to themselves – IMPURE INTENTIONS. The good works of almsgiving, prayer and fasting are not flowing from love and therefore are not pleasing to the Lord who sees the heart.
Again, growth in true poverty must involve BOTH, the works of mercy united with the interior work of the purification and emptying of our hearts.
• “In everything, the Christian life will be marked by a continually expanding rhythm that moves from ever-renewed discoveries to ever deeper renunciations.” Fr Louis Bouyan.
Self-knowledge is the gift of the Holy Spirit that obtains for us self-discovery, which leads to renunciation through repentance in order to love more and more solely in God and for God. We don’t renounce to anything just for the sake of renunciation but because we desire God. Whatever attachments we have to ourselves are places in our hearts that are full of ourselves and not God.
• Hypocrisy (HYPOCRISY IN ME; Growing in Purity of Intention Cenacle teaching 7/11/19)
Fr Cantalamessa’s 1st lent Homily 2019:
–The opposite of purity of intentions is hypocrisy
– It is surprising that the sin of hypocrisy—the sin most denounced by Jesus in the Gospels—enters so little into our ordinary formulations of examinations of conscience. Not having found in any of them the question, “Have I been a hypocrite?” The greatest act of hypocrisy would be to hide one’s own hypocrisy—hiding it from ourselves and others since it is impossible to hide it from God. Hypocrisy is, in large part, overcome the moment it is recognized.
– The exterior words and attitudes do not correspond to the inner reality of the heart. What appears on one’s face is not what is in one’s heart.
• Purification of our Desires. –2020 Encounter 3rd reflection –
– Wounds > unmet needs > disordered desires > disordered tendencies> 7 capital sins
– Pride / Envy
• “Mission of the 12” –1/30/18 Diary of a MOC, Mathew 10:1-24
A victim soul must fix his eyes on Christ, must desire with all his being to become one with his Master, must be willing to learn from Him and imitate Him. He must be willing to fight against all his disordered desires.
1. Listen again to 3rd reflection from 2020 Encounter and ponder the notes in prayer, continuing the work of the purification of your desires, expectations, judgments, comparisons, pride, envy, hypocrisy…
2. Listen to cenacle teaching on hypocrisy from 7/11/19. Beg for the grace of illumination to see your hypocrisy.