Blessed are the Poor in Spirit

By: Bishop Paul S. Loverde

All too often it may seem that money is not only necessary, but that it dominates the way we live our lives. We need funds if we wish to possess almost any material object; we need it to raise our families; we need it to purchase food to eat and to buy or rent a home in which to live; we work daily to earn it. As American citizens in a modern culture, the “almighty dollar” plays a large, intricate role in our lives.

Money in itself is morally neutral. It is neither intrinsically good nor evil, but rather a tool that we use to accomplish various endeavors. But like any neutral object in life, money carries with it a certain temptation and potential for evil. The dollar may be “almighty” in the terms of the world, but we must keep our eyes on the Cross, not on a dollar sign! Scripture tells us that: “For the love of money is the root of all evils, and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains” (1 Tim. 6:10). Note once again that money itself is not evil; the inordinate desire for it is sinful.

Greed has led to countless sins in the past and in the present. Wars are started to obtain more of it. Families are torn apart when money creates tension and division within them. Even in our own country, the poor remain vulnerable in many circumstances.

What is the antidote to these disordered uses of money? Scripture tells us in the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 5:3).

This discussion about wealth and poverty should also lead us to consider the spirit of poverty to which we are called as Christians. Why is it that the Beatitudes tell us “blessed are the poor in spirit?” What does this mean? It means that even though we may be blessed with material goods, we must acknowledge that they are gifts, and that possessing them gives us a greater responsibility to put them in their proper place in our life.

Can I live without the latest trends and devices? Our lives and inner peace should not revolve around whether we possess the latest technology.

Can I simplify my transportation? Do I purchase the most impressive vehicle I can find, or do I live within my means? Do I waste resources needlessly? Do I walk when I can?

Do I need a large, luxurious house? Do I place an undue amount of attention on status, and the size of my home? Do I thank God daily for providing me with a place to live?

Are my vacations spent detaching from technology and treasuring relationships and nature? Do I constantly take elaborate vacations that are more about prestige than actual relaxation? Do I detach myself from devices such as laptops and cell phones and spend quality time with my family and friends?

Am I irrationally upset and angry if a possession is ruined? Do we realize that people are greater than things? Do we jeopardize our relationships with others when something material is damaged or broken?

Do I share my possessions? Do I realize that everything I have is a gift from the Father, and that part of the call to Christians is to share with those less-fortunate?

Do I complain? Do we realize that each of our lives is unique, and what is given to us by God is unique? Do we strive to maintain a grateful heart, thanking God for the blessings we have, rather than focusing on what we do not have?

What are some additional ways each of us can live out the spirit of poverty in our lives?

3 thoughts on “Blessed are the Poor in Spirit

  1. We may ask ourselves, “How is the Human Soul maintained in existence?” or “How is the Human Soul immortal in nature?” or “How is the Human Soul immortal by grace?” . A Scholastic would state that the human soul is immortal because it is a first created principle that is maintained in existence by GOD alone and thus is incorruptible per addends and per se because there is no intervening existence generating mechanism acting as an interface between GOD’s eternal sustaining willful command that the soul exist and the essence or the substance of the soul itself. A more modern Dutch Reformist theologian would say that the Human Soul is immortal by grace only due to the universal merits wrought by Christ’s conception, birth, life, suffering, Passion, Crucifixion, death, Resurrection and Ascension into glory, a grace that is disposed on all human persons including somehow on the Human Souls who go to Hell. Otherwise, how could Hell be eternal and all Human Souls be immortal by grace if the souls in Hell did not have any such grace.

    Perhaps we can go just one step deeper and ask why “Why is the Human Soul maintained in existence?” or “Why is the Human Soul immortal in nature?” or “Why is the Human Soul immortal by grace?”.

    One reason why the Human Soul would be immortal by nature and incorruptible per addends and per se is that the Human Soul, in each and every instance, is loved by GOD to such an extent that GOD created each Human Soul and continually creates it. Thus, the reason why the Human Soul would be immortal by nature and incorruptible per addends and per se is due to the very inherent nature of each Human Soul in that each Human Soul is lovable by GOD, and then so utterly infinitely. The lovability of each Human Soul is an inherent property of each Human Soul which I believe can be taken as a first ontological principle of each Human Soul at face value.

    However, I present an analytical argument for such lovability being an inherent aspect of each Soul from other inherent aspects of each Soul.

    First, each Human Soul has inherent value, especially with respect to GOD. GOD would not have bothered to create each Human Soul if HE was not motivated to create each Human Soul that comes into existence by HIS creative might. Thus, the fact that GOD personally chooses to create each Human Soul that is ever created and to call the Human Soul by name is indicative of an inherent property of each Human Soul by which each Soul is valuable enough to GOD for HIM to create it and maintain it in being. Even the souls in the deepest depths of Hell are valuable to GOD, otherwise, GOD would not have created them in the first place and would not maintain them in being amidst the torments of Hell. This is true even if the immortality of each Human Soul is by grace only. Besides, GOD commands us to love our enemies and so GOD loves HIS enemies as an ultimate example including Satan, all of the fallen angels, and the Human Souls in Hell.

    Second, each Human Soul has inherent purpose, especially with respect to GOD and HIS Divine Economy. GOD would not have created any given Human Soul where the Human Soul had no purpose for being. Since GOD is the ultimate reference point for all that exists, each Human Soul which is immortal has a profound purpose and each Human Soul can in a sense be said to be ontologically imbued with the quality of its purpose to GOD in a substantial and essential level, but also at the level of the Soul’s faculties of Intellect, Heart, Will, and Memory and in its vegetative, sensible, and intellectual aspects as well as its accidental features and characteristics. Thus, purpose is an inherent aspect of the Human Soul to a degree commensurate with GOD’s choice to create a given Soul and to maintain all created Human Souls in existence, even the Souls that go to Hell.

    Third, each Human Soul has an inherent reason for being, not simply in the sense as a result of a metaphysical causal generative creative act by GOD , but more to the point and with deeper meaning, also in the sense that GOD foresaw the goodness of each Human Soul HE would create and was motivated internally to create and craft each Human Soul that comes into existence by the higher Divine Moral reason of beholding how ontologically good each Human Soul is. In a mysterious sense, this inherent moral reason for GOD choosing to create each Human Soul that HE creates reflects an inherent aspect of the ontological nature of the each Human Soul by which GOD would be morally motivated to create each Human Soul that He creates, even the Souls that HE foresees will not make it to Heaven. Thus, each Human Soul has a higher form of reason for being and this reason is the reason that GOD decided to create each Human Soul by HIS utterly free and deliberative Will motivated by HIS LOVE and WISDOM.

    Fourth, each Human Soul is inherently ontologically very good and this goodness is an inherent aspect of not only each and every Human Soul that was ever created, but is also a property in the superlative of Satan Himself. Because, Satan was created with such an exalted nature commensurate with HIS calling to perhaps be the light bearer before all Creation, Catholic Theology understands with prudence that Satan retains all or just about all of HIS natural powers and abilities. You don’t believe me! Then how is He able to seduce sins in so many of clergymen and religious to an extent lamented by Our Lady of Akita Japan and to have had such a destructive effect on modern Human Civilization. Nonetheless, Satan, the rest of the fallen angels, and all Human Souls who go to Hell and all other Human Souls have a nature that is ontologically very good, even though many if not all of we Humans in this life can act imprudently at times.

    So far, I have included 5 main why reasons for the immortality of each Human Soul and they are: 1) Its lovability to GOD; 2) Its value to GOD; 3) Its purpose to GOD; 4) Its reason to GOD; and 5) Its goodness to GOD.

    Now do not mistakenly think that these musings are a result of a personal casual disregard of the need for Human Salvation and the dependence of such on GOD’s Mercy or that I am implying that because I state that each human soul is inherently very ontologically good, that we can save morally save ourselves by our own goodness and strength. As a habitual sinner who feels the need to attend Sacramental Absolution every two or three weeks, I assure you at least of my full knowledge of my troubles with avoiding sinful behaviors and of a frequent need to clean my soul up.

    However, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and if GOD did not believe that each human soul was greatly ontologically good, then most likely, HE would have left Earth to be dominated by another species that might have evolved into a technologically advanced civilization just as we have. This inherent beauty of each Human Soul in GOD’s eyes is yet another reason for immortality of the human soul, by nature or by grace. GOD sees ontological beauty in each and every one of HIS creatures, especially Human Persons, any ETI or UTI bodily persons, and also the pure spirits known as angels, even those of whom currently act in the most morally offensive manners.

    Remember the age old adage, Hate The Sin, But Love The Sinner! Thus, we are called to be eternally shinning beacons of light that in some mysterious ways radiate out into the depths of creation. We simply cannot know the full scope of the Divine Economy and I hold this assertion to be true even for the just at the End Of Time at the Final Judgment, when the sheep on one side of Christ will ask the Lord, “When did we see you hungry, in pain, sick, thirsty, naked, in prison, or lonely, or feed you, clothe you, give you to drink, visit you in prison, or comfort you when you were afflicted?”, to which the Lord will say, so long as you did so to the least of my brethren, you did so unto me.

    These least of our brethren in modern America where occupational and vocational status along with academic achievement and psychological and physical prowess are overly emphasized are the mentally ill sometimes ignored even by Catholic Clergymen commensurate with the callous use of the words crazy or lunatic when referring to those with severe mental disorders, or perhaps those languishing in our prisons who are often referred to as low-lifes or bottom feeders by those who excel by worldly standards such as military war heroes and highly decorated officials or by academics with an obsessive compulsive aversion to being associated with the incarcerated or homeless languishing on our city streets.

    I am not saying that good citizen stewardship is wrong, but let us not delude ourselves into thinking that prostitutes and tax collectors will not be getting into Heaven before many of us do. If you do not believe me in these regards, then simply refer to the very well-known and prominent Scriptural passages where the proof of such is as clear as Divine Revelation.

    I have taken some folks with severe mental illness under my wing as a sort of mentor and I find that such folks have a refreshing child-like humility and simplicity about them. One of these persons just wants to work and has had about 10 jobs in the last decade or so, but cannot keep them because he loses is cool on the job at times when folks mock him or utter insults. But God Bless Him, he goes out immediately to find another job and usually keeps the job for about 1 year. Another gentleman I looked after has a simple dream of wanting to be a rock star. These two live life authentically to the same extent that they desire to move forward.

    The point is to take some time and share wisdom and life experiences with those that can be considered by modern Pharisees and Scribes as non-worthy and who are often shunned or worse, the butt of unkind rumors or insults. Truly, many of the first will be last and the last will be first.

    And yes, I have heard the usual song and dance of how clergyman, religious, and other Church leaders are human also and have the same moral short comings as the rest of the faithful, but I think those in prominent positions within the Church, Civil Leadership, and Corporate governance will be held accountable to the extent that they reject these least of our brothers and sisters.

    An authentic prolife America will only be realized when every man, woman, and child puts GOD back into their Hearts, and the degree to which we do so is indicated by how we treat these least of our brothers and sisters. Only then will we regain the status as One Nation Under GOD!

    GOD BLESS!

    Jim

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