Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Holy Poverty

St. Francis of Assisi
Patron Saint of Animals
Merchants & Ecology
Magpie 65

St Francis of Assisi

Born in Assis in Umbria, in 1181, the son of an affluent cloth merchant, Francesco Bernardone, as he grew, enjoyed a very rich easy and permissive life.

Aged twenty-five he had a dream in which God told him his direction in life was wrong.  Across the years he began to shed his life of privilege and adopted a life of poverty.  He became a preacher - never a priest - but was not a reformer.  He preached of returning to God and obedience to the church.

His life of poverty led to ill health and he became blind.  He responded to his blindness and suffering by writing the Canticle of Brother Sun.  He never recovered from his illness and died in 1226 at the age of forty-five.

Francesco had never sought to eradicate poverty - rather make it Holy.

It could be argued that to achieve Holy Poverty, Francesco depended on the goodwill, charity and toil of others in that they provided for him - thus their toil and labour denying them this same Holy status.

Millions are born into abject poverty each day - does this make them Holy by misfortune of birth, or to achieve this Holy state, impoverished as they are, do they have to relinquish what little they have?  Their life?

St. Francis endorsed a very specific kind of poverty that only Christians of means could embrace - so does this mean that he encouraged the stealing of the one spiritual advantage, that is, their poverty that only the poor could have?

A Mother's Prayer

Brother Sun                                                                   
You shine down
Upon us
Scorching this arid land;
Drought and famine.

O Lord
I beseech thee.
Cry for me
And all your children.
Let your tears
Fall as rain
And bring life
To Sister Earth
To sustain us.

Lord I entreat thee;
Save my children
From Sister Death.
Deliver my children
From the despair
Of their lives
And make this their
Heaven on Earth.

O Lord
How can I pardon You
For the sickness and trial
They bear as they
Die a lingering death?
How can I
Endure in peace?

Lord show me the way.


This perhaps controversial take on the prompt was never intended - it just happened that I remembered having the same unanswered questions as a child and wonder what your thoughts might be.

Anna :o]

With thanks to Tess at Magpie Tales 65


Glenn Buttkus said...

Interesting piece, Anna, for we
live in world where the contrasts
in wealth and weather are as
radical as famine versus Donald
Trump. St. Francis was like a
prototype for the late 60's,
when we all dreamed of a
brotherhood of man, real civil
rights, and where we would go
after the moon.

anthonynorth said...

Excellent post and great verse.

Gloria said...

Well written, full of heart!

Tess Kincaid said...

A lovely prayer.

Berowne said...

You've given some real thought to the St. Francis legend. Refreshing...

Frances Garrood said...

A lovely poem, Anna, and it poses the old question of suffering. I think that a Christian would say that God doesn't so much allow suffering as suffer with us. There is a marvellous book called A Life Transformed about a young Jewish girl - Etty Hillesum - who died in the Holocaust, her faith absolute and unshakable. Whatever anyone's beliefs, it bears reading (and is short!). A friend of mine says it has changed her life.

Trellissimo said...

Forgiveness s never easy...

Kay L. Davies said...

It isn't controversial. It might have been, had you intended it that way from the start. "I'm going write something controversial about this Francis statue." But you just said what you had to say, and said it well. No one can ask for anything more.
— K

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

Lane Savant said...

Good question! One the poor live with every day.
And one the rich don't seem to be aware of.

Anonymous said...

I don't find anything controversial about asking classic dilemma of a merciful God and suffering. This was a thoughtful, well written piece. Vb

HyperCRYPTICal said...

Thank you for you kind comments folks.

I must admit that I was concerned that my take on the Magpie might offend those with religious beliefs - and this was not my intention.

I was brought up in a religious household and I asked many questions (while very young) about the inconsistancy of a merciful God and suffering - thanks vb - and my parents only offered a response of that mentioned by Frances.

To me - that wasn't good enough and I last entered a chuch at the age of eleven - apart from baptisms, weddings and funerals.

I would like to believe in a Good God - but I can't.

My first doubts were at a very early age as spending a great deal of time in hospital, would view the other patients and think "How could God allow that?" No-one could give me an answer, including the Captain (Church Army) of my church who used to visit me regularly.

But I do know that I am not a bad person, despite my lack of 'faith.'

Anna :o]

Steve Isaak said...

Re: 3 Word Week on - yes, you can post on/link to the current 3 Word Week from Monday I post it to the following Sunday night (up until 11:59 pm).

Then, the next day I post a new 3 Word Week.

I'll read your posted work later. It's been a frenzied writing week, with my next five days looking to be equally so, so you'll hear from me soon, my friend. =)

HyperCRYPTICal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
HyperCRYPTICal said...

Oops! To many typos!

Steve. Deed done on other blog.

Blogger. Please restore my missing comments!

Anna :o]

rel said...

Much of the doggma I was exposed to growing up left my logical mind in a conundrum as an adult. I rejected the answers of; just believe and have faith. For these reasons and more I raised my children outside of the religion I was raised in. If God created this dicotomy( terrible rich and extravagant poor) then it is beyond my poor intellect to reason why.
Love thought provoking posts!

jabblog said...

The direction you have taken with this is very interesting. The idea of taking from the poor the one thing they have is most original.

HyperCRYPTICal said...


I had left a comment saying pretty much the same - but unfortunately is one of those that 'disappeared' during blogger maintenance.

Even as a very young child raised in a religious household I asked questions on the contradicitions of faith and was never given an answer that made sense.

I too raised my children where religion played no part - but information was given here and at school and they were allowed make their own choices. They too have analytical minds and chose not to believe. But I like to think, that like me, good is at the forefront of who they are.

Anna :o]

HyperCRYPTICal said...

Thanks for your comment jabblog - you have just appeared when I posted the above.

Anna :o]

Bee's Blog said...

St Francis also received the stigmata.

This is an interesting take which should make us think. It's much the same today - Diocesan priests (Catholic) receive a monthly stipend from the Archdiocese and most of their needs are also met by the Archdiocese. However it seems that their incomes are supplemented by willing parishioners. I do know that if someone asks for a Mass intention they normally make a donation - the priests are not allowed to take more than TT$20.00 per day (approx $US3.00) when it comes to Mass intentions but I suppose if someone gives them a personal cheque/cash because they appreciate their ministry are allowed to accept it.

Religious Orders work differently.

This is not controversial - my take probably is!

Stafford Ray said...

Any wonder he exhibited stigmata after eating nothing for forty days. His body (including the and brain or mind, if you prefer) must have been falling apart! This probably belongs in your next post on rituals and Aspbergers!
Your touching poem and picture seems to be saying that praying for rain or food (or anything) is like knocking on the door of a deserted house. There is nobody home. So if you want to help, don't pray, pay.

HyperCRYPTICal said...

Thanks for your comments Bee and Stafford.

Bee. Understand a bit. My hubby is/was Catholic and as a child aged eleven (eldest child then and the done thing) entered a seminary for the eldest male child was destined to be a priest.

His family were poor and at the age of fourteen could not afford to purchase the proper blazer - so his mum altered a near as dammit one. He was kicked out of the seminary for this reason and lost his faith for the price of a blazer. If God exists - is a blazer important to faith?

This is not directed at you Bee - but just an explanation of (his) loss of faith.

Stafford. I am unsure of how to 'take' your comment. I follow (and read) your blog and realise that religion has played a part in your life and you have been affected in that your family were excluded for a percieved 'sin' from the greater extended family.

I do not believe that I alluded that pay was more important than pray. You state that St. Francis fasted for forty days - but this was a choice. Those that starve during famine do not have that choice and that is the point I was attempting to make.

Please - if you want to discuss this more - email me as I value your opinion.

Anna :o]

Bee's Blog said...

I understand Anna entirely and can quite see why your husband feels the way he does. The Jesuits perhaps? This practice was well known in Ireland - have you read Angela's Ashes? So very sad that your husband had that experience as a teen and it's a good thing that today, the rules are very different and no 'child' can enter a seminary. Such a great pity that the price of a blazer lost a willing soul and I'm sure God will have judged the Abbot/Prior.....

I ask myself in times of drought and other disasters, 'why?'.

Sorry can't seem to e mail

Margaret Pangert said...

Hi Anna~

You've unearthed here an interesting paradox in the life of the sacrificing holy man. Isn't his first obligation to himself--being healthy, clothed, warm in winter... ? St. Francis worked very hard for the lepers, the homeless... I think he could perhaps be deemed an ascetic.

Remember Charles de Fourcauld and his followers, The Little Brothers of Jesus? They live a very prayerful, solitary, spartan existence in the Sahara Desert, but they manage to make room-and-board for themselves.

It is a very uncomfortable dilemma: to face their own malnourished early deaths and the poverty-ridden starvation deaths of children in the light of their never-bending devotion and gratitude to God.

I receive so much comfort and happiness in seeing St. Francis in my garden--he is to my mind the quintessential guardian of the earth and its creatures.

Love and blessings,

Margaret said...

I found your thoughts and questions very intriguing. So much I would love to say, but will suffice it to say that it is important that we constantly question and always search for truth.

HyperCRYPTICal said...

Thanks for your comments and apologies for the delay in response.

Bee - the college/seminary is independent of a nearby university but has loose affiliations with it.

It has an interesting 'ancestry' in that it was founded in France in 1568, moving to England in 1808. Its spiritual lead comes from a RC diocese in a totally different geographical area.

It is due to close this year as it appears that few now wish to enter the priesthood.

Email address is located in 'Welcome to our blog' should you wish to write.

Margaret P - It is a dilemma indeed and one for which there is no satisfactory answer.

To relinquish your life to poverty in the pursuit of faith will give insight into the despair of poverty of those whose it is by the misfortune of birth. But it will not be true poverty.

Margaret - I agree that we should constantly question in our quest for truth.

Anna :o]

With regards to faith - I would never attempt to make judgements on those who gain comfort from religion.

It is true that I hope I am mistaken in my belief that God doesn't exist - though I see no proof of that He does - as my parents were both religious and I sincerely hope that they now exist in Heaven.

HyperCRYPTICal said...

Ooooo! Don't know what happened there!

The bits under 'Anna' were originally in my response to you Margaret P.

Mmmm. The plot thickens!

Anna :o]

Promising Poets Parking Lot said...

That's sweet.

love your poetry talent here,

inviting you to join us by submitting a poem, any poem is welcome.

hope to see you in.
keep entertaining!
You Rock!

Jingle Poetry said...

amazing work.

Anna :o] said...

Thanks for your comments PPPL and Jingle.

Anna :o]