Eugene’s model for living the spirit of poverty was what he learnt from the first Christians:

The first Christians followed that counsel faithfully to the letter. They still had fresh before them the example of their divine Master. 

It was to live oblation by “imitating the virtues and examples of Jesus Christ”:

who chose to be born in a stable
and to die upon a cross,
after having lived deprived of everything,
for he was without the small coin needed to pay Caesar’s tribute,
and did not even have a place to rest his head.

1818 Rule, Part Two, s Chapter One. §1. The Spirit of Poverty.

The spirit of poverty is the spirit of simplicity, of not cluttering our lives by clinging to useless possessions, ambitions and occupations. The spirit of poverty challenges us to remove all in our lives that is an obstacle to being open to the presence of God and others –especially our king-size egos.

Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!     Philippians 2:4-8

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  1. Jack Lau, OMI says:

    Frank, great reflection and then you had to end it with “Kingly-Size Ego”. And to make that gender neutral for some or our readers 🙂 “Royal-Size Ego”. That hit home and went to the heart.
    And do I sense clutter. I am packing up after three years of Ministry at Retreat Centre and living in a six bedroom house all alone (not my idea of Oblate Life). But I do have stuff. Papers and books and then mementos and photos. But I hope I can let go of “some of it”. But it is the ego that follows me and sits upon my shoulders weighing me down.
    How much freedom do I have to simply say thank-you with deep appreciation and let go of the work and results of the past three years. The people and friends I carry in my heart, but there is in me pride and self centredness that maybe the missionary life (the moving here and there) sands down.
    So even though I did not build (men love to build) a building, I did plant many a garden.

  2. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associates says:

    Whoa Frank. This one, like others has managed to cut through everything! “It was to live oblation by “imitating the virtues and examples of Jesus Christ” – imitating the virtues and examples of Jesus …” – that in itself is daunting – and yet glorious. I don’t want to sound “holy” but I think we move back and forth ito this but it is a long way from absolute and it is a matter of having to keep refocusing and “regoing for it”. And I believe it will all happen – maybe not in the great big huge ways, but in the small everyday things that are our lives.

    The spirit of poverty – I actually really like that term. I go back to yesterday with the inner and the outer (spiritual and physical) – that letting go so that there is room for the important things, and sort of like above it is sometimes a daily thing, a waking up and starting a new day all over again. The awesome part of all of this – it’s all okay somehow. I do so know what you are talking about Jack. I regularly “declutter” and don’t have a lot – but I have way more than I need, and the holding on on the inner/interior stuff – that’s harder to let go of than the physical stuff. The ego is just one part of it. The “king size egos” – it’s a word. Funny though how those king – and queen – size egos manage to keep coming back and squeezing in through the tiniest of cracks to grow into full blown obstacles. Thank God – for our God is tender and merciful and never lets go.

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