Dear St. Martin’s parishioners,
Living in the most affluent society in world history, if Jesus’ words from the Sunday gospels over the past month haven’t made us uncomfortable, I don’t know what will. “Sell your belongings and give alms.” “For where your treasure is, there also your heart will be.” “When you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind.” And from this Sunday: “Anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.” The modern world finds itself in a schizophrenic state of mind. We on the one hand long for freedom from oppression, and on the other hand desire an accumulation of wealth and security. Jesus would respond that it is precisely our lust for wealth that oppresses us!
I find it most helpful to not speak theoretically about radical poverty and true Christian freedom, but to look at Christians who have truly lived it. There are many contemporary examples to select from, but I propose these three heroic Christians. Saint Charles de Foucauld was a Catholic priest and hermit, who gave up affluence and comfort to live among the nomadic peoples in Algeria. He was assassinated in 1916. Dorothy Day began the Catholic Worker Movement in the 1930’s as a radical expression of solidarity with the poor. Fr. Al Schwartz was a missionary priest from Washington, D.C., who started Boystowns and Girlstowns across the world to evangelize and educate the most neglected and vulnerable children. To dive more deeply into the lives and spiritualities of these three saintly witnesses, I suggest these three books:
Charles de Foucauld: Charles of Jesus by Jean-Jacques Antier.
The Long Loneliness—the autobiography of Dorothy Day
Priest and Beggar: The Heroic Life of Venerable Aloysius Schwartz by Kevin Wells (my brother)
The idol of wealth is the air we breathe, and as St. Teresa of Kolkata said, “Today it is fashionable to talk about the poor. Unfortunately, it is not fashionable to talk with them.” Let these three authentic witnesses inspire in you a greater detachment from wealth and a true poverty of spirit.
Thank you for your generous response to our need to fix one of the parish’s air conditioning units! Because of your generosity, we have already collected enough money to continue with the repairs. I am truly humbled by your sacrificial giving.
Have a blessed and restful Labor Day.