Monday, October 06, 2014

The Rosary and Poverty

“I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you”  Acts 3:6  These are the great words of our first Pope, St Peter, when someone asked him for alms while he was going into the temple to pray.  Of course, what happened next was a miracle: In the Name of Jesus Christ, St. Peter gave the man the ability to walk.

There is a great deal of talk today about social justice, but if someone is talking about patience in poverty, I have not heard it.  There is a great deal of talk over what governments should do with their citizens’ money, but little talk of the need for penitents to give alms for the forgiveness of sins.  It feels sometimes as if some were saying “I have no silver and gold, but what I do I have I give you, in the name of socialism, you should get benefits”

Today the politics of envy and greed abound and this development is not surprising, in fact it was predicted by our Holy Father Pope Leo XIII of holy memory in his encyclical Latiae Sanctae: an encyclical on how the Rosary is a great remedy to the evils afflicting society.  (Listen to the Encyclical in Full on: The Holy Rosary Remedy for Modern Evils)

Lets look at what Pope Leo identified as one of those three evils.

“There are three influences which appear to Us to have the chief place in effecting this downgrade movement of society. These are--first, the distaste for a simple and laborious life…”  

Pope Leo XIII goes onto explain how this manifests itself:

“In the workman, it evinces itself in a tendency to desert his trade, to shrink from toil, to become discontented with his lot, to fix his gaze on things that are above him, and to look forward with unthinking hopefulness to some future equalization of property.”

Men's minds become a prey to jealousy and heart-burnings, rights are openly trampled under foot, and, finally, the people, betrayed in their expectations, attack public order, and place themselves in conflict with those who are charged to maintain it.”

I suppose if I name specific examples of movements provoking such things I will wind up getting into blog wars with their various defenders.  Needless to say, there is no shortage of all of that going on today (civil disobedience, betrayed expectations, and lawlessness).  Often times the anger does not only come from the lowest classes, but from the most privileged.

Pope Leo XIII had a remedy for these evils.  The remedy will not be satisfactory to those intellectuals who are not satisfied with anything unless it is comprehensive; nor will it be for those activists who mask their desire for vengeance with demands of justice in their moral vanity.  The remedy is meditation on joyful mysteries of the Holy Rosary. 

Here he explains what we will find when meditating on those early years of the life of Christ. 

“Here is the patient industry which provides what is required for food and raiment; which does so ‘in the sweat of the brow,’ which is contented with little, and which seeks rather to diminish the number of its wants than to multiply the sources of its wealth.”.  (Listen to the Encyclical in Full on: The Holy Rosary Remedy for Modern Evils)

In this teaching we find the spirit of St Peter. The Catholic Church in its institution or its members does not have enough “gold and silver” to end poverty, but what we have is Jesus and that is what (or rather, Who) we can give people. With Jesus, poverty can go from unbearable to sweet (just look at the lives of the Saints).   If we do not teach that possessions often hinder rather than help in the quest for salvation, then people will conclude that poverty is something to be striven against, rather than striven for.

If we tell the man with a dollar that his suffering is in vain and that he need not be patient in it then surely he will not be.  If we tell the rich man that poverty is to be avoided he will probably make sure he has more than enough for himself, and not be generous in alms-giving.  Both lead to more consequences here and in eternity.

“The power of God takes away or gives with the same ease in matters temporal as in matters spiritual.” said the Little Flower in an apparition as she provided money to a community of nuns in desperate need.  taken from The Shower of Roses: The Miracles of St Therese.  If we preach prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, men can ask God for their needs and He will grant them! The poor can have hope rather than burn with envy, and the rich will not worry about suffering want from being overly generous.  

If we preach the Holy Rosary to all and teach its mysteries so mankind can meditate on the humble life of labor and poverty of our Lord, then the poor man strives to endure like Christ, and the rich man seeks to give alms generously in order to become more like Christ.   I for one will not be putting any confidence in our Pope, or President, Congress or leaders to end poverty or provide for our needs.  Rather let us all put our hope in our Heavenly King and Queen and ask for our needs while meditating and saying the Holy Rosary. 

Queen of the Holy Rosary, Pray for Us!


Just another mad Catholic said...

Forgive me if I'm getting the wrong end of the stick, but it sounds as if His Holiness is telling the poor to shut up, be grateful for what you have and that trying to socially better yourself is a sin, it suggests that His Holiness wanted to revive that dreadful legacy of the Middle Ages; Feudalism.

My mother is the first person in her family to go to University, my father the only one of his siblings, because of higher education their intellectual lives were enriched, their critical thinking faculties improved and their appreciation of art and culture increased. They passed down this intellectual and cultural inheritance to my sister and I and without it I doubt I would have found my way into the Church.

Now the Mrs Merdle's of this world (from Little Dorrit) aside this strikes me as worrying, it sounds as if the Pope is saying that it's wrong to want some material comfort and security in this life, and who knows maybe a few luxuries. He seems to assume that only manual labour is 'work' , I am skilled in administration (it's not a task everyone can do), I spend hours a day processing paperwork for a national firm, is the Pope suggesting that I do not work? What about the Lawyer, the Accountant, the Teacher? why is it that blue collar labour possess some strange virtue that White Collar labour does not?

Lastly, I sense of a bit of ivory tower theorising here on the part of both the supreme pontiff and the author of this article, Leo XIII was decidedly NOT poor, he came from an aristocratic family, as let's face it the overwhelming majority of Popes have done so. If Giuseppe Sarto AKA St Pius X had written what Leo XIII wrote I might be more inclined to listen. Also you Americans seem to have this romanticised idea of the Continental Class System based on its portrayal in the media e.g. Downton Abby, Gosford Park etc , please read some Dickens or Bernard Cornwell's "Sharpe" series if you want to know how brutal, dehumanising and awful it really was. Reading a few of the Sharpe books, as well as David Copperfield and Hard Times will cure you of your romanticism.

PS: I could have written so much more on the subject, but I think that this suffices to illustrate my main points.

Noah Moerbeek said...

As a former janitor now software developer I was definetly not trying to speak down to anyone from an Ivory Tower.

Than you for your comment and I have decided to do a follow up post in order to reply, Ill post a link here when it is done (with the grace of God next week).