In a very generous gift of original work, my friend Joseph Madonna sent me three poems he had written for the occasion of my profession of Solemn Vows in the Franciscan Order, each poem a reflection on each of the three vows. With his permission, I will publish them here on the three days preceding the date of profession — this Saturday morning. Here is the first, this one on the vow of poverty.

 

Poverty

You shall love your neighbor as yourself,
and not wish to be master over him.
It is not only greed which is our enemy,
but wrongful desire and love for all that is in this world.

For some the need to possess things is their undoing,
for others it is knowledge, or gold, or power over other beings.
Be always little, humble, poor.
And in your heart let love be engraved.

That is the root, the soul of poverty: love.
Love that allows all of creation to be, to be freely.
Love that accepts the conditions of life and
forsakes all else to have the love of the great Beloved.

The birds in flight and the lilies of the field care not
for great affairs or marvels beyond their reach.
They live in the never-ending present, giving
glory to their Father from whom all their needs come.

We are God’s children and He will not give us snakes and stones
for food, or vinegar for drink. He has fed us with
His son’s body and blood. Is that not enough?
He who is all in all has chosen to dwell among and
within us. Is that not enough?

Seek not to hold but to be held in the eternal embrace.
Spread your arms wide as a cross and be stripped
of all ambition, all desire, except that which will
bring you home. This is poverty:
to be so enamored of God that you let go of all
else but that love which in the end consumes you,
leaves you with the nothing which is everything.

– Joseph Madonna (2011)

Photo: Linda Davidson, The Washington Post 

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