This [lack of "awareness of problems which especially affect the excluded"] is due partly to the fact that many professionals, opinion makers, communications media and centres of power, being located in affluent urban areas, are far removed from the poor, with little direct contact with their problems. They live and reason from the comfortable position of a high level of development and a quality of life well beyond the reach of the majority of the world’s population. (49)Is this me? Is this us as religious? Is my 'holy poverty' as a religious such that it shields me from contact with the poor? Do I 'live and reason'--and pray--from a 'comfortable position' and live 'a quality of life well beyond the reach of the majority of the world's population'?
Sometimes I'm afraid I have to say yes. And if I have to say yes, my Franciscan vocation, as I am living it now, has become meaningless.
It's not supposed to be that way. A few quotes from our Capuchin Constitutions:
Poverty, chosen in order to follow Christ, makes us sharers in his filial relation towards the Father and in his state as brother and servant in the midst of people, and leads us to solidarity with the littlest of this world. (61,2)
Those friars are to be praised who in particular situations, living with the poor and sharing in their conditions and aspirations, encourage them in social and cultural progress and in the hope of eternal goods. (63,2)
Called the gospel path of poverty, let us accustom ourselves to suffering privations after the example of Christ and the memory of St. Francis, who wanted thus to be poor and to entrust himself, having abandoned all things and free from bonds of the heart, to the Father who cares for us. (77,1)
And let us not be numbered among those false poor, who love to be poor on the condition that they lack nothing. (77,2)
Do I put myself in a place where I share the aspirations of the poor? Do I have to suffer any privations for the love of Christ and his poor? Do I love to be poor in such a way as to lack nothing? Laudato si' has brought me the torment of these questions. But I have to trust it as a good, a graced torment.
The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty. (Luke 1:53) I pray that line every evening in Our Lady's Magnificat. And I worry that I am the rich, not the hungry. And if so, how do I dare to hope for any grace from God?
In one of the presentations this past week at the New Provincials' Workshop, one of our General Councilors spoke on the embourgeoisement of religious obedience. I will agree to do this or that, I will take up this or that life, so long as it serves my goals of self-realization, of amassing my own moral capital within the organization, etc.
Has religious life as I have found it served to help me to become one of God's poor or has it served my embourgeoisement? I worry that the answer may be the latter.
So what do I do? I pray. I pray you Lord, for the courage to go where my consecration leads me. I pray for the grace of giving you permission to do what you have to do to make me the poor man I have professed to be before you, the Church, and the world.