16 May 2011

Our Lady's Poverty

This particular piece from a Carthusian monk focuses on the poverty of the Virgin Mother of God, in order that she may ‘preserve her unique treasure’. Jesus tells us to ‘make to yourselves . . . a treasure in heaven which does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth corrupts. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also’ (Saint Luke 12:33-34). The possessions of this world’s goods or the lack thereof, causes much stress in the hearts of humanity. Our fallen nature renders us ‘control freaks’, making it difficult to surrender totally to our Lord and trust in His Providence. Jesus encourages us however, when He said: ‘Fear not, little flock, for it has pleased your Father to give you a Kingdom’ (ibid. verse 32).

Our annals record the apparition, in the year 1137, of Our Blessed Lady to a simple lay-brother of La Correrie near La Grande Chartreuse, to whom she said, having delivered him from some grievous temptation: ‘Keep on advancing always in the life of perfection. Love the coarse food, the poor clothing allowed you by your Rule, and spend yourself in manual labour’.

These are the counsel of a Mother, herself imbued with a great love for poverty, a virtue of which during the whole of her life she gave a wonderful example.

Daughter of David and the descendant of the kings of Judah, Mary counted it her glory to live hidden from the eyes of men. She heard herself spoken of as a carpenter’s wife, and rejoiced in it, just as her Son was happy to pass for a workman’s son.

Rich in the possession of her divine Son, Mary deprived herself of the goods of this world, in order to preserve her unique treasure. And yet as she was Queen of creation, she knew that she could have been trusted always to make use of created things in a lawful and holy manner. We too, therefore, should remain detached from the vanities of this world, if we would possess Him Who in truth only gives Himself to those who can repeat with the poor man of Assisi: My God, and my All!

The prospect of the unfading crown which will encircle the brows of those who conquer for Christ’s sake should make us generous in our detachment, like those athletes of whom the apostle speaks, who strip themselves of everything in order to fight in the arena (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:25). Did not Joshua once see his army put to flight by the enemies of God in punishment for a theft committed by a son of Israel, who had stolen objects vowed to the pagan gods?

Holy Mary, Mother of God: pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.