Saturday, May 12, 2007
Friends of the Poor
I have written earlier about St Francis of Assisi. In the last week I managed to learn an Italian song based on St Francis’ "Canticle of Brother Sun".
St Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of the environmental movement. The Canticle is a beautiful statement of his credo, of the one-ness of all life and creation, united in St Francis' perception as expressions of the immense love of the Almighty.
But above all, St Francis lived a very simple life, of poverty – he married Lady Poverty. And he maintained Chastity to Poverty. Hence he was unfailingly one with the poor and suffering.
"Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
Gospel of St. Matthew , Sermon on the Mount, 5:3.
So St Francis of Assisi should actually be counted as the First in the procession of Friends of the Poor.
The world might advance in knowledge, in technology, in feats of wealth, in art and aesthetics and metaphysics … but it will remain hollow at the core, and fundamentally bereft spiritually and morally as long as poverty casts a shadow on humankind. But in order to do anything that can impact positively on the lives of the poor, one’s heart must not merely bleed for, but with the poor.
Whatever may be said about Mother Teresa of Calcutta, she too was unfailingly one with the poor, and the poor above anybody else. Abbe Pierre, who passed away recently, was another contemporary exemplar of this.
Image: El Greco, Saint Francis in Prayer.