The poverty of riches: St. Francis of Assisi reconsidered by Kenneth Baxter Wolf

By Kenneth Baxter Wolf

Saint Francis of Assisi is arguably the main beautiful saint ever produced by means of the Catholic Church. The surprisingly excessive regard with which he's held has served to insulate him from any actual feedback of the type of sanctity that he embodied: sanctity established firstly on his planned pursuit of poverty. during this ebook, Kenneth Baxter Wolf takes a clean examine Francis and the belief of voluntary poverty as a foundation for Christian perfection. Wolf's element of departure is a sequence of straightforward yet hitherto unasked questions about the proper nature of Francis's poverty: How did he pass approximately remodeling himself from a wealthy guy to a bad one? How profitable used to be this change? How did his self-imposed poverty examine to the involuntary poverty of these he met in and round Assisi? What did terrible humans of this kind get out in their touch with Francis? What did Francis get out of his touch with them? Wolf unearths that whereas Francis's notion of poverty as a religious self-discipline could have opened the door to salvation for prosperous Christians like himself, it successfully precluded the concept that the negative may possibly use their very own involuntary poverty as a route to heaven. in keeping with a radical reconsideration of the earliest biographies of the saint, in addition to Francis's personal writings, Wolf's paintings sheds very important new gentle at the inherent ironies of poverty as a religious self-discipline and its courting to poverty as a socio-economic disease.

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Francis's point was simply that the proper Franciscan attitude toward a poor person was to see in his face the image of Christ and to act accordingly, without inquiring about the state of the poor man's soul. 71 28 ST. "72 Over the course of his time there, he discovered that Greccio was being afflicted by devastating hail storms and attacks by wolves. So he instructed the citizens to confess their sins, and once they had done so the storms and attacks suddenly stopped. But unfortunately the newfound physical security of the people of Greccio spawned more serious spiritual threats to the community.

He encouraged his followers to do the same. The Life of St. " Greatly consoled in their lack of all things of the world, they resolved to adhere to the way they were in that place always and everywhere. Only divine 19 20 ST. FRANCIS AND THE IRONY OF HOLY POVERTY consolation delighted them, having put aside all their cares about earthly things. 6 The poverty with which Francis and his followers "began to have commerce" certainly looked a lot like the poverty that afflicted the less-than-fortunate inhabitants of Assisi.

55 It comes as no surprise, then, to find the spiritually mature Francis more concerned with seeking alms than with distributing them. "57 As far as Francis was concerned, it was precisely the humiliation of begging door-to-door that invested alms with their spiritual, as opposed to their material, significance. 58 Whenever Francis felt that the friars were letting their pride get in the way of their begging, he would remind them about Jesus: "the Son of God was more noble than we are, and yet for our sake he 26 ST.

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