3-D LIVING

Part 4

 

 

DETATCHMENT - DOCILITY - DEVOTEDNESS

 

Evangelical poverty is the heart of the spirituality of St. Francis of Assisi. Even the familiar diminutive by which he is still called — ll Poverello, the little Poor Man — affirms this. But why did Francis esteem poverty so highly?


The answer is simple. Francis loved poverty because Christ did. He was captivated by the mystery of God Incarnate who laid poor in a manger, lived poor in the world, and remained stripped on the Cross (TESTAMENT OF ST. CLARE) If his Lord was so poor in this world that He had nowhere to lay His head, then Francis would strive to share that material poverty. Yet this was only a first step on his path to total identification with Christ.


Assisi's Little Poor Man understood that there was a deeper, more far-reaching dimension to our Lord's poverty. The early Christians sensed this when they sang; Though He was in the form of God Jesus did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at. He emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave. (Philippians 2:6) Francis saw that the way to enter as fully as he could into the mystery of Jesus' self-emptying was through DETACHMENT. Well acquainted with the frailty of fallen human nature, the Little Poor Man was quick to remind his followers that they are not truly poor in spirit who are scandalized and quickly mused to anger by a single word which seems injurious to their person. (Admonition 14) He knew that it is often far easier to give up material wealth than to give up a long-held grudge, to lower one's pride or to forego manifestations of wounded self-love. Yet this is exactly the field in which the virtue of DETACHMENT can reap its bountiful harvest.


DETACHMENT enables us to enter into the mystery of self-emptying love. For the goal of DETACHMENT, whether it is from material wealth or spiritual "riches," is to help us to live empty of self. In the day-to-day details of life, DETACHMENT transforms the grasping hand of the old Adam in us, tightly closed around the forbidden fruit, into the open, giving hand of the new Adam, Jesus.


The hand which DETACHMENT has opened can grasp in faith the guiding hand of our heavenly Father and walk the path of faith in complete DOCILITY. Contrary to what many think, DOCILITY is not servility, nor is It naiveté. A dodle person is a teachable person, a lead-able person, someone who can, in full freedom, be guided in the ways of holiness — like St. Francis! After the great act of DETACHMENT which was his public renunciation, we find the Little Poor Man growing richer and richer in the virtue of DOCILITY as he let the Spirit lead him along the marvelous path of holy Gospel living.

DETACHMENT and DOCILITY likewise prepared Francis of Assisi to be a man of deep and abiding DEVOTEDNESS. Once he had detached himself from everything and become a docile instrument in the Lord's hands, no one was more DEVOTED to God and neighbor than the Little Poor Man. Francis, in his loyal, loving, faithful fulfillment of love's every duty, echoed the supreme apologia of DEVOTEDNESS uttered by his Divine Master: That the world may know I love the father... and do always what pleases Him!


Not everyone is called to a life of radical evangelical poverty. But everyone can learn from St. Francis the great spiritual art of DETACHMENT which leads to an ever increasing DOCILITY to the unfolding of God's plan and a deepening DEVOTEDNESS to the fulfillment of His will. It is 3-D living that enhances and enriches life, almost beyond imagining!



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