“Time” to Live Poverty

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As Lent continues, so does the year of focus on the Consecrated Life.  Those called to this life – sisters/nuns, brothers, consecrated women and Religious order priests – live the Gospel call in a way that is more intense, that calls each of us to live our Baptism more faithfully.  The consecrated are like some of the great sports figures we see on TV:   they hold up an example of health that we can each imitate in a smaller way in our own lives.

The theme for this year is WAKE UP THE WORLD! 

One of the great gifts of our Catholic faith is our ability to hold up to the world signs that the Kingdom of God is already here:  the consecrated living poverty, chastity and obedience; our care for human life and for the poor; and our devotion to God’s Presence in the Holy Eucharist.

This Lent is a great opportunity to hear more clearly the Gospel call to poverty.  As mentioned in the last blog, this includes living more simply, taking better care of the earth, and having a lifestyle that is constantly mindful of those who are in need.

There are other parts of poverty that are equally important, but less obvious.  Poverty is about my attitude toward and use of my possessions.   The term “possessions” is not limited to what is in my bank account, my pantry, and my closet.  Time is also a possession.

When my time is being consumed waiting two hours in a doctor’s reception room or sitting completely still in traffic or being imprisoned in my home waiting for the cable guy to arrive, this is where I have the opportunity to live the Gospel gift of poverty.  A very holy nun once explained:   “ The poor are those who wait.”

Consider that:  the richer you are, the less you have to wait.  The more powerful you are, the less you are kept waiting for anything.  The doctors who volunteer a week of their time to fly to third-world countries recount their experience of people standing for days waiting for an examination.  These people accept this as a part of life.  In the U.S., we have a whole different vision of ourselves.   We don’t want to wait, although we accept it at Disney World, on Black Friday, and when the Pope comes to World Youth Day…

My time is valuable.   I begin to truly value it – in the spirit of Gospel poverty – when I use it for prayer.   Times of waiting can be literally “donated” to God to be used in intercession for others and for myself, for apologizing, for thanking.  Then a burden, an inconvenience, becomes a moment of grace that remains in my storehouse in heaven for all eternity.