Continuing with Angela of Foligno, one sees the progression of her road to holiness. This saint admits that she had lived a loose life. She is sharing insights concerning the siren call of the world as one who escaped, through the grace of God, from the world.
Angela clearly writes that the men of the world fall into damnation by pursuing status, riches, comfort. She notes that this wisdom of the world revolves around the immediate and not the eternal.
As one who is writing from the
State, and finally, the , Angela warns us that only the
illumination from God regarding our sins and the falsity of worldly goals can
keep us on the path. Unitive State
, which has been
described here in the perfection series, is a gift for those who accept the
humiliation of poverty and nothingness. Illuminative
I have heard priests state that humility is not the same as humiliation. Angela (and I, from experience) assures us that this idea is false. To desire humility, one must be ready for humiliations, over and over again.
These humiliations happen according to the Mind of God. He allows some people to experience more humiliations than others for the sake of their souls. When humiliations come, one is inclined to see these as punishment from God. Some may be punishments for sins, a purgatory on earth.
Some humiliations are simply opportunities for growth. One cannot look for reward, as this is vainglory.
Angela admits that she was extremely impure on her road to perfection, by thinking she was holier than she was. God took her and showed her vainglory and pride.
Pride, the number one sin, gets in the way of holiness, and must be crushed. Angela of Foligno warns us all against these things, in her own words.
“…in order that our minds may be the better fixed upon God it is needful that we should cast off all perverse and useless habits, all superfluous familiarity with men and women of whatsoever nature, all superfluous knowledge and the desire to hear many new things, all superfluous labours and occupations. And, briefly, it is needful that man should put away from him all things which do distract his mind.”
Poverty takes care of many distractions. When one is poor, one cannot afford cable television, the Internet, newspapers, magazines, going out to plays, going on vacations, or even books.
One cannot afford dinners out, or needless socializing. One can barely afford the basics necessary for life, which creates a gratitude, as one realizes that all one has is really from God and not from one’s own worth, value, efforts.
Focusing on God is not an automatic response of the poor, but not having other distractions helps to clear the mind of trivia.
Our model is Christ Crucified. As Angela notes, regarding the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, “….he (the sinner) must take heed that never forget this great benefit.”
To fix one’s mind totally on Christ demands the simplicity of life, and poverty provides this simplicity.
Ask yourselves today these simple questions:
How much time do I spend watching useless programs, or playing distracting computer games?
How much time do I fill my imagination with decorating the house, or planting more flowers, or fixing elaborate meals?
How much time do I waste on line reading copious comments, tweets, or news items, not necessary for my work or salvation?
The call to poverty should be cherished. Those who hate those of us who are poor fear facing the real poverty, which is the poverty of the soul.
To be continued…