Monday, June 25, 2007



I have been doing a lot of reading. A few days ago I finished a collection of the writings, published by Orbis Books, of Father Pedro Arrupe, S.J., who was the Jesuit Father General for many years.

Here's part of a reflection on poverty that hit me - especially since it speaks of my condition, as a missionary:
Poverty means total detachment, at least in attitude; it means withdrawing trust from all things created and placing all our trust and our hope in God, in the faith-certainty that our help can only come from him. It is to this total trust in the providence of God that poverty leads us by dispossessing us of everything and thus liberating us from attachment to anything. “The surest as well as the most needed contribution we can give to the reform of the universal church,” says St. Ignatius, “is to go about as lightly burdened with things as possible, as our Lord himself has shown us" The experience of human insecurity leads us to find shelter in the unfailing security of God…. 
We thus arrive at ultimate poverty: the giving up of everything, one’s own self included, which imitates the kenosis of Christ. Rooted in the love of the Father, it is the highest degree of interior humility. To strip oneself in this way is to experience powerlessness in the presence of those who, having possessions, seem to have power. It is to experience humiliation, for to be poor is to be despised, to be cast aside, to be roughly treated. 
In this connection, what a missionary must be ready to undergo in a foreign country is highly instructive. To find oneself alone in a great city, without a single friend or acquaintance, without provision of any kind, whether it be physical equipment or the support and security one derives from ordinary human relationships; to be poor even as far as language is concerned, unable to express oneself, to tell people what one is, what one knows; always to be in a position of inferiority, a child just learning to speak, contemptuously dismissed in every discussion, painfully aware of the poor impression one is always making, and of the pity, or else the hostility, with which one is regarded – all this brings home to a person better than empty theorizing what poverty, in the radical sense of dis-possession, really means. Not only does it take away external attachments, it makes one truly humble of heart; for to be poor is to be humiliated, and it is from being humiliated that one learns humility.
— “Simplicity of Life”
cited in Kevin F. Burke, S.J., ed., Pedro Arrupe: Essential Writings [Maryknoll, NY, Orbis Books, 2004], pp. 84-85

1 comment:

Teresa Albertson said...

John, Michael and Aspen are pestering me every few seconds about one thing or another, but I wanted to take a moment to send you a note. I am enjoying your blog. I went to it just today. I'll try to take some time to read more. I am delighted your calling is being confirmed. I think that is most important. My blog is But I'm not quite as regular as you are about posting. My email is My best to you...teresa albertson, Ames, Iowa, St. Thomas Aq.