Thought for the Day – 28 November – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
The Blessedness of the Poor
“Blessed are the poor in spirit” said Jesus, “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:3).
We should take care to have a proper understanding of the meaning of these words.
Catholic perfection does not actually consist in being poor.
A man can be poor, even voluntarily so, without being vittuous and without receiving any blessing thereby.
“Christian perfection,” explains St Thomas Aquinas, “does not especially consist in voluntary poverty, which is only an instrument of perfection.
Therefore, it cannot be said that where there is greater poverty there is greater sanctity.
The highest perfection can co-exist with great wealth, for we read that Abraham was wealthy and God said to him, ‘Walk in my presence and be perfect‘” (Summa Theologiae, II-II, q 185, a 6 ad 1).
Perfection then, does not consist in poverty as such but, in detachment from worldly possessions.
Whether we are rich or poor, we must have this detachment, if we wish to be true followers of Christ.
It was God Who created the fruits of the earth and gave them to men.
When He had created them, He was pleased with His Work and declared, that all things were good.
Evil consists in the abuse of these goods, which, in themselves, are intended to be aids to perfection.
It is necessary, therefore, to preserve the proper hierarchical order of all that is good.
We must guard against riveting our ambitions on earthly objects, as if tbey were capable of constituting the goal of our lives.
God has given us these things as possessions, not as ends in themselves.
He has ordered us to be masters of the world, not it’s slaves.
Detachment is essential but not a complete surrender of our possessions.
The latter was never commanded but simply indicated, as an evangelical counsel of perfection.
The observance of this counsel, however, is valueless, if it is not accompanied by detachment.
Worldly possessions, such as money, are good servants but bad masters!”