St. Francis de Sales on loving poverty in practice

January 19, 2022 • 2 min

From The Spirit of St. Francis de Sales, page 139
By His friend, Jean Pierre Camus, Bishop of Belley

UPON THE CHRISTIAN VIEW OF POVERTY.

On one occasion I quoted that saying of Seneca: “He is truly great who dines off earthenware as contentedly as if it were silver; but he is greater still who dines off silver with as much indifference as if it were earthenware.”

He said:

The philosopher is right in his judgment; for the first feasts on mere fancy, leading to vanity; but the second shows that he is superior to wealth, since he cares no more for a precious metal than for clay.

Yet, Oh! how ridiculous; how empty is all mere human philosophy! This same philosopher who speaks so eloquently again and again of the contempt of riches, was all his life immersed in them; and at his death left thousands behind him.

Does it not seem to you that, this being his own case, his talking about poverty makes him like a cleric expatiating on the art of war?

We had far better listen to St. Paul, who speaks as a past master on the subject of poverty, since he practised it so thoroughly that he chose rather to live on what he could earn by the labour of his hands than on what the preaching of the Gospel might bring in to him, as to the other Apostles.

Yes, we must needs listen to and believe St. Paul when he says that he esteems all things as dung in comparison with the service of Jesus Christ, counting as loss what he once held as gain.

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