How to live a life of Holy Poverty for Catholic Families
by Rita Davidson
I hear from families all the time, how they don’t have enough money to go around. Dad is working, but is not bringing enough in. Bills get paid, but there is never enough for extras. Just when you get one round of bills paid another season rolls around and you have to find more winter clothes for your growing kids, that eats up the little bit that is left. Moms get itchy and want to start working not knowing they are getting in way over their head if they head that way. Are they not saying to God, “you haven’t given me enough in my life.” ?
Now just what is poverty ?
I have heard others say it was an evil. Caused by the worlds selfishness and thereby can’t be from God.
Well, let’s look at this. For one thing if we look back to the Holy Family, where was Our Lord born? Was He put up in the best hotel at the time? Did He have extra offers from many of the wealthy families offering Him their best room ?
No, in fact, He was refused from every place there. Doors were closed on the Holy Family. No one was willing to offer this God made-man a decent place to be born. Today, we are frantic to see that hospitals are clean and babies are clean and so on. Can you imagine your baby being born in a stable, a barn really, where pigs and donkeys live? Have you ever been in a barn? The smells alone there can scare out the bravest. I remember growing up on our farm, when in winter, the heavy smells from the cows would be strong enough to make the eyes water! I could not imagine having my baby in such a place.
But this was the place that God choose for Himself to be born.
Why? When He could have chosen anywhere else to be born. Even under a clean outdoor tree if He wanted. But no, He choose the lowliest place of all. He chose a stable to show us that even He was not beneath the lowliest place to be born. He did this to show us that no matter how little we think we have in our life, He had less.
Now come forward to today and all you and I have. From roofs that don’t leak (well mine just started. Ugh) to washers and dishwashers to keep our clothes and dishes clean, even the lowest of us, seem to have just enough. We struggle to get those homeschool books paid each year, and struggle to save some money on groceries this week, but it just seems we always ‘have enough’ but not any more than enough.
We look to those that have more than us, and find ourselves naturally saying, “oh I wish I could have that.” and we ‘sigh’. There is something to be said for ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ as its’ called, that can leave us irritated and disappointed with our lot in life. Never ask to live in anothers shoes you might be surprised how hard their life is compared to yours.
What is so wrong with having enough money, we say to ourselves? Why can’t we make just a little more so we can have, a little more?
But have we really looked at our expenses ? If God has seen fit, to give us a meagre income for our family, have we used it to the best of our ability? This has to be the first question.
You see, because with more money, comes more responsibility. When poor, the answers come easy. “Can I have a new skirt?” “ I want a new toy truck!” “Can I take music lessons?” and the answer is always easy. “I’m sorry honey but we just can’t afford it right now.”
But once we have enough money to go around, and those questions come up, what do you say then? In your mind your thinking, well ‘Jane, has way too many skirts, how do I break this habit of accumulation to her gently’. Or ‘bobby has enough toys, how can I say no, and make him understand’. You see when we plainly don’t have enough, the no comes easy. But when you have enough, the no’s have to be chosen more carefully. It becomes a delicate process then.
My father was an autobody repairman all his life. We always got the wrecks he salvaged for his own, after repairs.
Both my parents were as frugal as you could get, both living through WWII and had vivid memories that obviously led to much of their later life choices.
My parents were both extremely frugal, like recently, when my mother would sit in the dark as to not waste money on electricity. Yet, they gave away money, or things freely to people in need. We never needed new furniture when my father was alive. But we always had a good second hand whatever-it-was, couch, chair or what-have-you. He was a jack of all trades and so re-upholstered furniture when needed or taught my older sister to do it.
We never had much, and I never thought we had lots of money, but we always had enough. I remember the day when he opened his wallet for me, to show me the 2 inch thick billfold he had that day. He just chuckled and closed it. He was generous beyond measure, but we never felt in need. He took in cousins and more as they were getting on their feet. Fixed up old salvaged cars and gave them away to nearly everyone of his nine children when they first started driving.
We have to realize that with more money comes this responsibility to help our neighbor. Frankly many of us don’t have that generosity. And God knows what’s in our heart. And if we are responsible enough to give us enough to go around or if we would better get to heaven without that added cross of ‘where to spend it’. You see, it is only when we are in need, that God can show His generosity and make those miracles in our life that only come when we are truly in need.
Like the many stories we have of having an empty fridge and no money, and finding money in our mailbox. In time it became a joke for us, as this story of the empty fridge repeated itself, we knew there would be money there that day and there was! God has an amazing sense of humor, if we only let Him in our life. And it is in our need, that we find Him.
If we look to the Saints, we see St. Francis of Assisi, whose feast day we celebrate today. He too came from a rich family, but after his conversion, he threw off the shackles of his rich life, so that he may more better serve the poor. You’ll notice here, I said, “More better”. Because money has a way of clouding our vision. It has a way of infecting the soul, so that we slowly say “I want more”.
While money itself is not evil. Human nature is what it is. And we all are prone to ease and comfort. We are all prone to being weak and money has a way of expanding what we are. More of it either makes us a better person, by our generosity. Or more money makes us a worse person, by our greed and selfishness.
At the end we have to remember that we leave this world with nothing. We leave here as we came into it and nothing more. All we have is the time between our birth and death to make this a better world. All we have is this time between our birth and death to save our souls. And only God knows what is best for us to have, to do this. In the end, that is all that matters, isn’t it ?
Next time your really struggling with your finances, ask God what He thinks. You might be surprised at the miracles He sends your way!
Give me your thoughts below!
©Copyright 2012 Rita Davidson All Rights Reserved.
Rita is a Catholic wife and mother of seven children. She reverted back to the faith when her oldest was making her First Communion. By then, she had completed degrees in Hairdressing and Make up artistry. She went on to receive a degree in Natural Health and another degree in Art. At age 26, Rita suffered a minor stroke. With no lasting effects, this dramatically changed her outlook on life. In 1996, Rita began ‘Little Flowers Family Apostolates’ to reach out to other families with her new found faith, by creating unique Catholic books and resources.. In 1999, she wrote the bestselling, ‘Immodesty; Satan’s Virtue’. She was editor of ‘The Catholic Health Letter’ for 7 years. She has been a homeschooling mom for 20+ years, and has written for various magazines. She is honored that families have trusted her with their questions, needs and concerns over the years. She continues to write and reach out to Catholic families with her husband, Mark and their 4 boys through http://www.LittleFlowersFamilyPress.com