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Man is a corporeal, social, rational and spiritual being.
as a corporeal being, a person needs material goods to
sustain his/her physiological existence.
another dimension of a person which lies on his/her
relationship with others . Poverty on this level includes
not only sharing of goods but also the sharing of what
we have (knowledge, time, talents, etc.) what we are
(life, values, dispositions, attitudes, etc.), and what we
can (services, capacities, etc.).
another level focuses on the spiritual aspect of the
person, his/her capacity to go beyond oneself, to
transcend from what is physically and socially satisfying
in order to form a value, that becomes his/her point of
reference in every decision-making / making choices.
Poverty Based on the Three Levels
of Psychic Life
1. Psycho - Physiological Level The existential need
of the individual for material things is an essential
aspect of our spiritual-corporeal being. The right
choice and use of material goods is important to
make survival and development possible.
2. Psycho - Social Level We are human beings who
need to have relationship with others, to be cared
for by others, to be near to others. We need to value
people and friends over things, being with over
3. Spiritual - Rational Level We are spiritual-rational
beings with the need to think, to judge, to evaluate,
to go beyond the senses into abstraction, forming
immaterial concepts about material things.
Homelessness. The poor do not have a decent house
to call a home.
Depravity. The poor do not merely lack material
things. They are deprived of them.
Facelessness. The poor live in the anonymity of the
masses. They are hardly noticed by society.
Exploitation. . They work hard and earn little. They
are also objects o vote-buying during political
elections, struggling as they are for survival. The
poor are often victims of injustice.
Instability. The poor are deprived of a better
tomorrow or a brighter future. They do not have
established plans in life.
Stagnation. The poor who get discouraged
about life no longer entertain ambitions.
Sub-human Conditions. The poor do not live like
persons worth their dignity.
Voicelessness. The poor do not exercise political
clout in matters of social or national interests,
not even in advocacy-related issues
Objects. The poor are oftentimes treated as
objects (of political promises, of sentimental
piety expressed in dole-outs, of humanitarian
projects, etc.)
Abandonment. the poor are often left alone in
their daily struggles.
No Alternatives. In the context of survival, the
poor do not and cannot choose from a wide
variety of choices.
The Praying Crowd. The most visible urban and
rural churches are the poor church-goers.
Simplicity in Faith. The poor are grateful to God
for the things that really matter to them. God is
their last resort.
Hungry for Quick Solutions. The poor who
realize the near impossibility of improving their
lives look for easy opportunities for quick
Simplicity of Needs. There are those who,
already living simple lives by the circumstance of
their want, are also simple in their needs.
No Access to Information Technology. Today
information is power. The poor are uneducated,
unschooled, unskilled, and undeveloped.
Violence and Fear. The poor almost always live
under conditions of violence.
Aping the Rich. A consumerist society sets the
wealthy as the ideal. They become social climbers.
Vices. the vices of the rich arise from their avarice,
love for comfort and convenience, the vices of the
poor are but desperate means of escape.
Entertainment-lovers. They resort to various ways
of entertainment to distract themselves from the
more striking issues of survival.
No Job Opportunities. Uneducated, the poor
have less and less opportunities for employment.
Ethics of Survival. The main issue here is
practicality. Moral values are judged according to
the standards of survival
Brokenness. Living in sub-human environments,
where violence and fear normally reign, it is not
surprising that most of the poor families are
Self-Sacrificing. Not alien to the world of
suffering, the poor are, in more ways than one,
most capable of patient endurance and
Sensitivity. Related to low self-esteem, the poor
are highly sensitive to what they see and hear.
Irritability. Enmeshed in a confusing world of
poverty, personality patterns exhibit a high degree
of irritability.
Showy. The poor are apt to display the best of what
is available to them, perhaps a defense mechanism
to cover up ones poverty.
Rumor-mongers. Competing for attention, the poor
have the tendency to sow rumors by putting one in a
bad light in order that another may appear better.
Celebration-oriented. the poor, who apparently
have nothing worth celebrating in life, are so
interested in celebrating every little occasion that
they find meaningful.
Lack of Self-Esteem. There is another type of poor
people who are at pains in accepting their condition.
1. The Poverty of Jesus Christ. The whole life of
Jesus is a concretization of the virtue of poverty.
Jesus showed that He was not concerned with
ensuring a permanent source of income by
earning His living during His public life.
He did not have the comfort and security of a
permanent home (Luke 9:5-8).
He had to be buried in another person's grave
(Mt. 27:60).
He readily accepted the hospitality of the well-
to-do (Luke 9: 38 ff., 19:1 ff.).
Evangelical poverty includes sharing in the
paschal mystery of Christ.
His death on the cross was an extraordinary way
of self-emptying.
Jesus showed His utter reliance on the Father in
His total self-abandonment to Him.
He renounced self-assertiveness, the display of
power, and the seduction of riches.
When He began His evangelization activity, he
left his family, his house, his possessions, his
profession and began to lead a life of itinerancy
(itinerant missionary) and of permanent service
to others
2. The Poverty of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Mary is the first and foremost among the poor of
Yahweh. She stands out among the poor and
humble of the Lord, who awaits and receives
salvation from Him.
The poor here are those who fear God, who
depend on Him for everything. Therefore,
evangelical poverty is a religious rather than an
economic condition, which is equal to destitution
or misery.
The magnificat is the proof of the Lukan
identification of Mary and the spirituality of the
poor. It must be stressed that the Reign of God
takes on the appearance of the little, the poor
and the humble.
3. The Poverty of Christians.
If you wish to be perfect, go and sell all that you
possess and give the money to the poor, and you will
have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me.
He demanded from His followers the same
detachment as He proclaimed in words and deeds
(teachings of life). This includes detachment from
goods (poverty), relatives, family, loved ones
(chastity), in order to be free in following Him
(obedience) for His sake and for the sake of the
Gospel (mission).
Renunciation is just the consequence of ones
following of Jesus Christ.
Poverty in spirit is to become single-minded and
single-hearted, that is, to wish one thing only; to
have God as the only One necessary in life.
The new theology of evangelical poverty does not focus on
the renunciation and detachment from material goods, but
its very object is rooted in the Gospel values of joyous
dependence on God and open hearted sharing of Gods
gifts within the human community.
the vow of poverty forbids religious the following:
_ Appropriation of something that belongs to the
community for personal use.
_ Giving, selling, exchanging, disposing of things, and
buying on ones own initiative, lending, borrowing, wasting
through neglect.
_ Accepting things for personal use without permission or
making unjustified demands for care of health.
_ Refusing assignments or work.
In the post-modern time, there are contemporary
reflections that emerge based on the experiences of
many religious regarding the modern understanding
and practice of the vow of poverty. These new
reflections are deeply affected by two factors:
_ There is the psychological fact that total
dependence upon superiors for ones material well-
being is experienced by many religious as trivial in
itself, unrelated to evangelical poverty, and
conducive to immaturity and irresponsibility.
_ There is an increasing awareness on the part of
many religious of the extent and severity of real
destitution in the world and a consequent sense of
inauthenticity in claiming to practice poverty while
enjoying a disproportionate share of this worlds
goods and virtual freedom from material insecurity.
Dimensions of Religious Poverty
1) Charismatic Dimension of Poverty
Religious poverty is a charism of following Jesus
Christ who is poor. Religious poverty at the most
profound level is a special gift from the Lord before it
can be a response to the Lords love. It is precisely
this gift, this charism, that empowers me to respond
to the Lords love by living my commitment in
The vow of poverty as a charism, is meant to be the
safeguard against all abuses related to wealth and
property; against the violence of consumerism and
As a charism, poverty enables me to serve the Lord
with special freedom. I am free to serve Him through
the apostolate.
2) Community Dimension of Religious Poverty
This gift / charism to embrace this way of life is
not given to all but to some whom the Lord
wishes. They are bonded by the same intention,
the same charism, and the same love for God.
Poverty, the sharing of goods, even spiritual
goods, has been from the beginning the basis of
fraternal communion.
Personal and communal / collective poverty is
imperative. In the economic aspect, the poorer
the individual member is, the richer the
community / institute becomes. The richer the
individual, the poorer the institute is.
A common life of material things was motivated by values such as:
Primacy of Gods love above all created things.
The community of Jerusalem teaches us that a common life of
material things is possible only through a) non-attachment, b)
actual renunciation.
Jesus by His own example, paved a way for the community life with
material things.
Renunciation of things gives witness to the faith conviction that
Gods Kingdom alone is our real treasure.
The common life of material things is not for the sake of
convenience or organization but it gets its evangelical value
only as an expression of love.
Common life demands giving up of everything required by the
constitution and dependence on the community in the use of
material things.
The community itself is made up of individuals who have freely
embraced the same obligation: a) all give to the community b) all
depend on the community c) all share in the goods of the
3) Poverty as Service / Mission ( Missionary Dimension
of Poverty )
a. Poverty as Personal Witnessing. More than in
external works the mission consists in making Christ
present to the world through personal witness. This
is a challenge
b. Service For the Sake of the Kingdom. Religious and
consecrated persons are called to become faithful,
committed, affective, and effective prophets of their
c. Preferential Option for the Poor: Option of the
Church, Option of the Religious. The call of the Church
to every baptized Christian particularly to the
religious to have preferential option for the poor is
becoming louder and more insistent.
What is an Option? The word option refers to a
dynamism that shapes a man's or a womans
freedom, inasmuch as this option is an effective
exercise of freedom.
What are Signs of the Times? Signs of the times are
significant events which faith leads us to see as signs
of the Spirit which God is sending us in order to show
us God the Fathers will in history
Who are the Poor? The poor we refer to includes all
those who feel deprived of meaning, dignity, and
purpose in their lives.
What is Preferential Option for the Poor? The
preferential option is the contemporary call to
engage with the poor so that we can evangelize one
another and thus become recipients of Gods new
What to Do? Religious are called to an evangelical
task of befriending, of activating a process that
enables the poor to procure the basic requirements
to live in dignity and self-respect.
An Affective Option for the Poor. It means that
Christian communities let the poor touch their
An Indirect Effective Action for the Poor. Christian
communities can live and act in ways that transform
the structures of society.
A Direct Effective Action for the Poor. This hands-
on involvement can mean community organizing,
volunteering in nursing homes, tutoring poor
children, working with the disabled, etc.
4) Ecological Dimension of Poverty.
Religious poverty has an ecological dimension
since it pertains to ones relationship as regards
the goods of the earth.
If everything in life is gift given for nourishment,
therefore our attitude towards the goods of the
earth should not be exploitative or destructive.
Reclaiming the vow for mutual sustainability is
very much about coming home to ourselves as
planetary - cosmic creatures who owe everything
we are and everything we have to the creation
out of which we have evolved.
Mechanism, technicalism, and materialism have
enslaved nature. They have degraded it.
5) Apostolic / Ascetical Dimension of Religious Poverty
Apostolic poverty is simplicity at the service of the
Gospel; it is influenced and controlled by the
requirements of the apostolate. It is also simplicity of
external life-style which is at the service of the
Apostolic poverty makes one free from all that is
unnecessary and superfluous.
Apostolic poverty is adapted to suit the times and
Apostolic poverty requires the acceptance of
hardships and lack of comforts that the apostolate
brings with it
Apostolic poverty makes one depend on the
generosity of others.
It does not seek financial remuneration. You
received without paying, give without pay,
It brings one closer to the conditions of the
people one evangelizes.
Apostolic poverty requires a poverty of spirit that
enables one to accept the values of a culture, of a
people that is not ones own.
Apostolate also involves witness. External
simplicity serves the apostolate best at all times
and in all places.
Evangelical poverty is an internal attitude of
availability to serve out of love for the Kingdom
of God.
Poverty as a Sign
1) Christological Sign It is an imitation of and a
sharing in the poverty of Christ who is the model,
teacher, and source of a life of evangelical
2) Ecclesiological Sign Evangelical poverty, is
therefore, a quality of the life of the Church.
3) Eschatological Sign Christian hope motivates
us to a life of evangelical poverty by teaching us:
That in the world to come God Himself will be
our eternal security; that the real and permanent
treasure is in heaven or in the life to come, for
the wealth of this earth are impermanent and
Models in Understanding Religious Poverty
1) The Biblical Models
a. Spirituality of Detachment
b. Providence
c. True Riches
d. Condemnation of False Gains
e. Compassion
f. Common Life
2) Eschatological Model
a. Poverty as Holocaust
b. Production of Goods for Charitable Use
c. Communication of Goods
d. Poverty Expressed in Religious Habit
e. Poverty as the Non-Administration of Goods.
f. Poverty of Nature and Real Poverty
3) Mendicant Model.
a. St. Francis of Assisi belonged to a relatively
wealthy class. Poverty places the mendicant in
the same situation of rejection that Jesus
experienced in his lifetime.
b. Dominic, on the other hand, identifies poverty
with begging in the context of itinerant
c. The Society of Jesus attempted to recover the
radicality of poverty while harmonizing it with
the needs of the apostolate.
d. The way of life ( Forma de Vivir ) of the
Augustinians, distinguishes exterior poverty (not
possessing things) from interior poverty (not
desiring to possess things),
4) Solidarity Model.
In contemporary history we see two major
orientations in the various attempts at recovering
the evangelical spirit of poverty: the identification
with the poor and the acts of solidarity.
5) The Liberation Model.
In the early sixties liberation movements flourished
in the Third World but were more strongly vibrant in
Latin America. Theirs was a collective response to
structural or institutionalized injustices.
This liberationist movement became the movement
of the poor who by then were only starting to be
conscienticized in raising issues of justice, peace,
and development.
The Two Foci of Religious Poverty
1) Societal Focus It has to do with our
individual and corporate impact on the
institutional sins which are making and
keeping poor the majority of the earths
people while the minority becomes
progressively richer.
2) The Personal Focus is the personal spiritual
one which has to do with our own ascetical
preparation for and interior exercise of that
openness to God in grateful receptivity to
Some ways to enhance a meaningful and
spiritually fruitful, personal living of the
vow of poverty

Simplicity of Life
Sense of the Gift of Life
Community Financial Structures
The Lack of Options
Participation in the World of Work
Uses and Abuses of the Vow of
1) Psycho - Physiological Level
_ jealously hoarding our possessions
_ harsh coldness when one asks for the things for
apostolic reasons;
_ too free a use and possession of a community
things by one person
_ stinginess
_ keeping donations
_ fanatic push to obtain dress, book or crucifix or
vacation, etc.
_ grumbling because of minor inconveniences
2) Psycho - Social Level
Possessiveness is transferred from the area of
things to that of persons.
Poverty then becomes utilitarian, which means
useful for our need-gratification
Poverty on this level, in the light of the third, can
mean experiencing the anxiety of being
separated and alone
3) Spiritual - Rational Level This level speaks
about our capacity for judging, valuing,
abstracting, transcending, and going beyond
ourselves. Because of this innate gift, needs of
other levels can be regulated and integrated.
This involves total surrender of ourselves to God.
a. Dispossession of Ones Life. Do I care to preserve my
health and if sickness comes? Am I really in constant
touch with my conviction that even my next breath
depends on God?
b. Dispossession of Ones Time. Is there a proper balance of
my time between relaxation for regeneration and
working in a spirit of co-creation with Him?
c. Dispossession of Ones Qualities. Total surrender to God
also finds its meaning in our surrender of our talents and
qualities in loving service of Him and others.
d) Dispossession of Ones Name, Status, Power. Our name,
status, and power reinforce our self-esteem but we can
still detach ourselves from all these surface appearances
and commune with the transcendent meaning of self,
persons, and things.
Criteria for Evaluation of the Spirit of
1) Congruity: Is our poverty congruous with the example of
2) Which level of our being? Does our attitude of poverty
stem from a personal need in us only, or an objective
3) Which process of our psyche? Is our poverty prompted,
motivated by compliance, that is, a wish to please others
or avoid criticism and punishment, a wish to be
4) Which functions? a) Utilitarian b) Ego-defensive c)
Knowledge-oriented d) Value-expressive
5) Which procedure of evaluation do I use?
a) Emotional Wanting b) Rational Wanting
6) Which fruits are evident? Am I humble enough to admit
sincerely my limitations or do I blame them on others?

Lord Jesus, I ask you for a new fullness of the charism

of poverty. I ask you to reveal to me my inordinate
attachments, my holding on to things or to persons,
my richness that keeps me from saying a more
complete yes to you. I surrender to you my excessive
search for material comforts, and whatever material
goods I have that I do not really need to serve you. I
surrender to you my excessive need for attention, for
acclaim and applause, for narcissistic feedback from
others. I surrender all my selfish ambitions, my search
for honors, my vainglory and my pride. I surrender to
you my possessiveness of those whom I love; teach me
to love freely, leaving others free; teach me to love
with an open hand. I renounce the possessiveness in
my love for others; teach me to love more and better.
And I ask you now for new graces, for new power to
live for you, for the new outpouring of the charism of
religious poverty. Give me the interior poverty that
depends on you and not on the worlds acceptance.
You say to me now, If the world hates you, know
that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were
of the world, the world would love its own; but I
chose you out of the world, therefore the world
hates you. Remember the word that I spoke to you,
A servant is not greater than his master. Teach me,
Lord, to enter by the narrow gate that leads to life.
You are that gate, Lord; let me follow you, taking up
my cross. For you alone, Lord, are my portion. I love
no inheritance; I want no possessions, for you are
my possession. Amen.