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On Poverty

On Poverty - St Shenouda Monastery Pimonakhos Articles

Untitled pictureYou will be proclaimed charitable, not simply because you have refused to accept something from another person, but rather you will be recognized as a renunciant because you have given without looking back. When you distribute material goods, strive to cast pure seeds, lest instead of wheat you have tares come forth (Matt, 13: 24-30). In what you offer, remember God who is both the giver and the receiver (1 Cor 4: 7; Matt. 25: 40), so that with praises He may reckon to your account the rewards of renunciation (poverty).

The person without possessions enjoys the pleasure of a life free from cares, but the one attached to possessions has the distress of the rich person as his constant concern. When you do not give your heart to considerations of material things, at that moment you may drive away captive the crowd of thoughts. When you deny the desire of acquisitiveness, at that moment you will bear also the cross without distraction. But the thought of material things will forebode for you old age, famines, and sicknesses in order to divide your hope in God among financial concerns. Let him who has chosen to practice the ascesis of renunciation make for himself a wall of faith, a fortification of hope, and a secure grounding in love. For faith is not the abandonment but the substance of superior goods in the hope of perseverance and the love of life (Heb. 11:1).

When, having renounced external material goods in freedom from passion, you walk in the path of the superior goods, then the sword-like thoughts will watch out for an opportunity to make poverty and destitution reproachful to you, presenting you with degradation and dishonour, in order that the murderers may work with murderous cunning a change of mind from such a radiant virtue. If then you give intelligent attention to victory in the contest, you will then discover rather that through the things that present you with reproaches a crown is being plaited for you; for in practicing renunciation, you do so through those contests for which you receive reproaches. Therefore, do not surrender in the battle with the interior thoughts, because it is not at the beginning of renunciation that the end is praised, but rather at the end of perseverance the beginnings receive the crown. It is not only for bodily exercise that the contests receive applause, but the goal of the crown is also sought in the battle with the thoughts.