In my day we did not have today’s resources; we barely travelled, means of transport such as motorways were those of pre-civil war. There was no television, or mobile phones, etc. Illiteracy was still a scourge.
People had not travelled or had any access to culture such as today we are allowed, but they had the strength and wealth belonging to a wisdom overtaking that of well-informed people ever: the wisdom of life. A kind of wisdom especially proper to people living and developing in rural areas, where life is more natural, and everybody lives ordinarily together with all the people, where everyone shares joys and sufferings of others somehow, where being poor is not unworthy, dishonest, shameful, or humiliating. We are talking about poverty, not misery which is a very different thing.
Since time immemorial, the vast majority of the population has been poor. Nobody felt guilty about being poor though lacking in basic resources; it was most natural, and they lived so with a high sense of dignity. People was poor but honest, and without losing joy, or the enthusiasm of life. Curiously enough: Christian teaching was taught by family and at school; and life and death, God and devil, doomsday, hell and glory were spoken of naturally. And nobody experienced a trauma, everyone took this knowledge in, or not, quite naturally.
What a contrast to our time, when in spite of having everything we feel unhappy whatever setback we endure, or due to not having the resources celebrities live with.
Today, most people live much better than the kings from another time. And yet the displeasure is, let’s say, almost widespread. Nowadays, poverty is seen as a disgrace and nobody wants to see it as a result of excessive ambition of men, lacking in love. An example: if we put ten men in a desert island, and we came back after a certain period of time, what would we find? Surely this: one would be the chief, a few would be his assistants or followers, and all the rest would be manipulated in one form or another, in favour of the first ones. And so it has been at all times. A mystery!!
A mystery difficult to understand if we remove the historic memory of our origin: the conscience of sin and its consequence, the loss of God’s friendship. If we act with that lack of memory, it is not strange that problems have no human solution. By these roads, it will not easy to correct the issues as they come forward, because the transcendent vision of human life, created for an eternal destiny with God, is missing.
Christ became poor, continued to live in poverty and died penniless. If he loves poverty to teach us the way towards true life, how can we love wealth? Of course, wealth is not bad in itself. A lot of good can be done managing it in a proper way. But it is necessary certain spiritual poverty, if you want to live a Christian live in the midst of the current society.
Are Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Anthony of Padova, the holy Curé of Ars, despicable due to the fact that all of them were living in poverty with a Christian spirit?
It is not necessary that all of us live in poverty of spirit such as those who serves God in religious life, but we can follow the example of their lives.
Antonio de Pedro