20130324 Poor in spirit 神貧

St. Francis de Sales devoted three chapters of the Introduction to the Devout Life to explaining the virtue of poverty.
He wrote: “`Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God;’ and if so, woe to the rich in spirit, for theirs must be the bitterness of hell. By rich in spirit I mean him whose riches engross his mind, or whose mind is buried in his riches. He is poor in spirit whose heart is not filled with the love of riches, whose mind is not set upon them.”

Poverty in riches
Regarding material possessions, St. Francis de Sales wrote, “My child, our possessions are not ours. God has given them to us to cultivate, that we may make them fruitful and profitable in His service, and so doing we shall please Him.
“And this we must do more earnestly than worldly men, for they look carefully after their property out of self-love, and we must work for the love of God.”
The saint pointed out, “There is a wide difference between having poison and being poisoned.” A Christian who uses material things with the spirit of detachment would not be harmed by the possession of wealth.
Inordinate attachment to wealth harms the soul. St. John of the Cross wrote, “It is not the things of this world that either occupy the soul or cause it harm, since they enter it not, but rather the will and desire for them, for it is these that dwell within it.”
Reason and faith tell us that wealth is not an end, but a means given us by God to provide for our needs and those of our neighbour. Moreover, riches pass away with time; we cannot take them along with us to the next world.

Charity and trust
Christ Himself joined the exercise of charity to that of poverty by saying, “Sell what you have and give it to the poor” (Mt 19:21).
Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen commented, “If we detach our hearts from earthly goods, the spirit of poverty will make us generous toward the needy.”
The most effective way of detaching ourselves from riches is to invest our wealth in the bank of heaven by giving generously to the poor and to good works.
Christ also joined the exercise of poverty to that of trust in divine Providence. He said, “You cannot be the slave both of God and of money. That is why I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, nor about your body and what you are to wear. Surely life is more than food, and the body more than clothing!”
“So do not worry; do not say, ‘What are we to eat? What are we to drink? What are we to wear?’ It is the gentiles who set their hearts on all these things. Your heavenly Father knows you need them all. Set your hearts on His kingdom first, and on God’s saving justice, and all these other things will be given you as well” (Mt 6:24-33).
Father Gabriel explained, “The spirit of poverty will not be lasting and profound unless it is based on confidence in divine Providence. It is only when we trust in God and in His word, which will never fail, that we shall have the courage to put aside all excessive preoccupation with temporal affairs.”
“Jesus does not wish the solicitude which would engulf us entirely in temporal affairs; this would indicate not only an excessive attachment to earthly things, but also a lack of confidence in divine Providence.”
We should seek security in God and not in wealth.

在《熱心引》一書內,聖方濟.沙雷用了三整章,解釋「神貧」之德。他寫道:「『神貧的人是有福的,因為天國是他們的』,相應地說,神富的人是有禍的,因為他們要嘗到地獄之苦。我所說「神富」,是那些專注於豐盈物質、埋頭埋腦於財富的人;而神貧的人不會被財富充斥他們的心,而他們的心亦不會專注於物質。」

 

財富中的神貧

 

有關擁有物質,聖方濟.沙雷寫道:「我的孩子,在世間我們所擁有的,並不屬於我們,而是天主交給我們去培植,為侍奉祂而變得有成果,鍾悅於祂。我們要比世俗的人更懇切地去作,他們小心看顧世物是因為自愛,而我們必要為了愛天主而看顧世物。」

聖人續指出:「擁有毒藥與被毒藥毒倒有很大的分別」。一位基督徒只善用世物,不依戀世物,便不會受財富荼毒。

 

過度依戀財富會損害靈魂。聖十字架若望曾寫道:「不是世物侵佔靈魂或傷害靈魂,因為世物不能進入心靈,但是人對世物的慾念和追求會侵佔和傷害靈魂,因為它們會囤積於心。」

 

理性與信德告訴我們,財富並不是人生的終極,卻只是天主供給我們或鄰人生活的所需的工具;的確,財富會隨時間漂逝,我們死時不能帶走它。

 

愛德與信賴

 

基督把愛德與神貧相連;祂說:「變賣你所有的,施捨給窮人。(瑪竇福音19:21)」佳播.達蓮神父提點我們:「假如我們的心脫離俗物,神貧之心自會使我們對人慷慨。」

要脫離俗物最有效的方法,是要常設法積聚天堂上的財寶,用世上的財寶,慷慨地作善功,賙濟窮人。

 

基督又把神貧與信賴天主照顧相連。祂說:「你們不能事奉天主而又事奉錢財。為此,我告訴你們:不要為你們的生命憂慮吃什麼,或喝什麼;也不要為你們的身體憂慮穿什麼。難道生命不是貴於食物,身體不是貴於衣服嗎?…… 所以,你們不要憂慮說:我們吃什麼、喝什麼、穿什麼?因為這一切都是外邦人所尋求的;你們的天父原曉得你們需要這一切。你們先尋求天主的國和它的義德,這一切自會加給你們。(瑪竇福音6:24-25, 31-33)」

 

佳播.達蓮神父續解釋說:「神貧之德除非是建基於信賴天主,否則只會流於淺薄,又或不能持恆。我們堅信天主及祂不朽的諾言,自會有勇氣把對俗事過份的憂慮置於一旁。」他又說:「耶穌不想我們過份憂慮,免得被俗事完全埋沒。其實,這憂慮不僅表示我們太注重世俗的事,也表現出對天主信賴不足。」

 

我們應從天主那裡尋找安全感,並非依靠財富。

 

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