Thursday, January 25, 2007

Poverty of Spirit and Vocation

Thomas Merton wrote a great piece on Francis of Assisi that alludes to the Gospel value of "poverty of spirit" and the freedom this brings to our common vocation. In find Merton's perspective insightful and helpful:
"The remarkable thing about St. Francis is that in his sacrifice of everything he had also sacrificed all the 'vocations' in a limited sense of the word. After having been edified for centuries by all the various branches of the Franciscan religious family, we are surprised to think that St. Francis started out on the roads of Umbria without the slightest idea that he had a 'Franciscan vocation.' And in fact he did not. He had thrown all vocations to the wind together with his clothes and other possessions. He did not think of himself as an apostle, but as a tramp. He certainly did not look upon himself as a monk, he would have found plenty of monasteries to enter. He evidently did not go around conscious of the fact that he was a "contemplative". Nor was he worried by the comparisons between the active and contemplative lives. Yet he lead both at the same time, and with the highest perfection. No good work was alien to him, no work of mercy, whether corporal or spiritual, that did not have a place in his beautiful life! His freedom embraced everything."

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:3, NIV)

Merton, T 1955. No Man is an Island. New York: Harcourt.