... in spiritual poverty

Published on 29 Oct 2020
Painting of the people gathering around Jesus listening to the Sermon on the Mount

I was reading something recently which referred to spiritual poverty, and realised that I didn't really know what it meant. Then a few days later I was reading something else, and it used the phrase 'poor in spirit'. I laughed at myself for not knowing that this second phrase, commonplace from the Beatitudes, meant the same thing. 

I have heard the Beatitudes many times over. In fact it was the reading at my wedding! Yet never seemed to have thought what 'poor in spirit' actually meant. I'm still puzzling out what the phrase means in my life, but reflecting on it has been helpful. I became aware that I'm not very good at 'spiritual poverty'. 

I found this definition on the internet:

Before all else, we depend on God for our happiness and fulfillment. While we are grateful for our talents, abilities, wealth, and achievements, we are free enough to offer them to the service of God and others and to let go of them when they get in the way of that self-giving.

In short, poverty of spirit is an emptying of self so that God can fill us with life and love. Our prayer helps us grow in spiritual poverty and freedom. Christ is the model of spiritual poverty par excellence.    [Kevin O'Brien SJ]

Like with everything in our Christian life, spiritual poverty needs to be worked at, but unlike the other beatitudes this is the one I'd forgotten about somehow. Now I shall remember it often.