“Charity beareth all things”
HE THAT LOVES JESUS CHRIST BEARS ALL THINGS FOR HIM, AND ESPECIALLY ILLNESS, POVERTY, AND CONTEMPT
St. Bonaventure said that temporal goods were nothing more than a sort of bird-lime to hinder the soul from flying to God. And St. John Climacus said that poverty, on the contrary, is a path which leads to God free of all hindrances. Our Lord Himself said: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matt. v. 8). In the other Beatitudes, the Heaven of the life to come is promised to the meek and to the clean of heart; but to the poor, Heaven (that is heavenly joy) is promised even in this life: theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Yes, for even in the present life the poor enjoy a foretaste of Paradise. By the poor in spirit are meant those who are not merely poor in earthly goods, but who do not so much as desire them; who, having enough to clothe and feed them, live contented, according to the advice of the Apostle: But having food and wherewith to be covered, with these we are content (I Tim. vi. 8). Oh, blessed poverty, exclaimed St. Laurence Justinian, which possesses nothing and fears nothing! Ever joyous and ever in abundance, since she turns every inconvenience into advantage for the soul. St. Bernard said: “The avaricious man hungers after earthly things as a beggar, the poor man despises them as a lord.” The miser is always hungry as a beggar, because his is never satiated with possessing; the poor man, on the contrary, despises them all as a rich lord, inasmuch as he desires nothing.
One day Jesus Christ thus spoke to St. Angela of Foligno: “If poverty were not of great excellence, I would not have chosen it for Myself, nor have bequeathed it to My Elect.” And, in fact, the Saints, seeing Jesus poor, had therefore a great affection for poverty. St. Paul says that the desire of growing rich is a snare of Satan by which he has wrought the ruin of innumerable souls: They that will become rich, fall into temptation, and into the snare of the devil, and into many unprofitable and hurtful desires, which drown men into destruction and perdition (I Tim vi. 9). Unhappy beings who, for the sake of vile creatures of earth, forfeit an Infinite Good, which is God! St. Basil the Martyr was right, when the Emperor Licinius proposed to make him the chief among his priests, if he would renounce Jesus Christ; he was right, I say, to reply: “Tell the emperor that were he to give me his whole kingdom, he would not give me as much as he would rob me of by depriving me of God.” Let us be content, then, with God, and with the things He gives us, rejoicing in our poverty, when we stand in need of something we desire, and have it not; for herein consists our merit. “Not poverty,” says St. Bernard, “but the love of poverty, is reckoned a virtue.” Many are poor, but from not loving their poverty, they merit nothing; therefore St. Bernard says that the virtue of poverty consists not in being poor, but in the love of poverty.