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Upon Poverty of Spirit

3 min • Digitized on January 17, 2022

From The Spirit of St. Francis de Sales, page 137
By His friend, Jean Pierre Camus, Bishop of Belley


Three virtues, he said, were necessary to constitute poverty of spirit: simpilcity, humility, and christian poverty.

Simplicity consists in that singleness of aim which looks only to God, referring to Him alone those innumerable opportunities which come to us from objects other than Himself.

Humility is that conviction of our own inferiority and destitution which makes the truly humble man regard himself as always an unprofitable servant.

Chrstian poverty is of three kinds.

First, that which is affective, but not effective [in affection but not in effect]. This can be practised in the midst of wealth, as in the case of Abraham, David, St. Louis, and many other holy persons, who, though rich in this world’s goods, were ready in a moment to accept poverty with cheerfulness and thankfulness if it should please God to send it to them.

Second, effective but not affective poverty [in effect but not affection], which is a very unhappy condition. Those who are weighed down by it feel all its distressing consequences and are miserable because they cannot possess the many things which they ardently desire.

Third, affective, united with effective poverty, which is recommended in the Gospels, and which may happen to be our lot, either from birth or from some reverse of fortune.

If we are reconciled to our condition in life, however humble, and bless God Who has placed us in it, then we tread in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, of His holy Mother, and of the Apostles, who all lived a life of poverty.

Another way of practising this poverty is to follow the counsels of Jesus Christ, Who bids us sell all that we have and give it to the poor, imitating our divine Master in that poverty which He embraced for us, that we, through it, might be made rich.

And never is this command more practically and worthily obeyed than when the man who has abandoned all his worldly goods for the sake of Christ, labours, not only in order to sustain his own life, but that he may have the wherewithal to give alms.

Thus did the Apostle glory when he said: For such things as were needful for me, and them that are with me, these hands have furnished. [Acts xx. 34.]

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