Poverty – Poverty is a faith experience first of all of Christ’s total self- emptying in love.Christ chose to become a poor person and he dwelt among the poor experiencing the very life of the poor. By doing so he wanted to come closer to the poor. Christ was poor so I am called to be poor like Him. The lived experience of poverty impels us to the love of Christ, a love which purifies and liberates.
One can’t know what religious poverty is and What it means, if the personal and lived experience of real poverty is lacking. One may possibly arrive at some knowledge of what the poverty of the historical Christ was and its characteristics traits were but one can not know what the poverty of a poor man is in actuality if one chooses to live as a rich. .
Poverty is an essential constituent of the Ignatian charism which is based on a love for the person of Jesus Christ, a love that necessarily leads one to be like Christ Poor in order to imitate and follow Him; to go to the father through Christ poor and obedient. It is not enough for one to merely desire to be poor. One must experience actual poverty.
As St. Ignatius puts it, “It is no small grace that the divine goodness gives us the opportunity of actually tasting what we should always desire if we are to be conformed to our model Jesus Christ.”
We thus arrive at ultimate poverty (SE 167): the giving up of everything, ones own self included which imitates the kenosis of Christ. Rooted in the love of the father, it is the highest degree of interior humility. To strip oneself in this way is to experience powerlessness in the presence of those who are having no possessions. It is to experience humiliations of the poor and their sufferings. If we want to share with the life of the poor, we must first of all share our life with our brethren in the society. How could we call ourselves poor if we do not banish mine and thine from our lives?
A Jesuit must always be poor in spirit and within his heart he must always yearn to live in poverty; not to live in destitution, but in poverty, so as to have and use only what is strictly necessary for life and work, renouncing superfluities. For those who embrace it lovingly often experiences joy, happiness and inner freedom that they had never felt before. Poverty develops a spirituality that is joyful, vigorous and virile. It generates spiritual vigor and an extraordinary endurance in apostolic enterprises, and on top of that, confers and inward joy who has not experienced it finds hard to imagine. Another dimension is that a Jesuit is deeply united with God and relies on him alone meaning in His providence for ones daily needs. The charism of Ignatius is not the one of Charles de Foucauld. Or again, we are informed that the authentic Jesuit tradition is to employ whatever means will get us to the end. That means for the greater glory of God we can make use of whatever is needed.
The advantages of that perfect detachment on which religious poverty is based are manifold. Perfect detachment confers an inner freedom which is unique: the freedom to respond to the call of the Spirit as soon as we hear it, whether in our own hearts, or in the voice of the superior, or in the signs of the times.
Before choosing his first companions Ignatius did lot of prayer and discernment of Spirit. There involved very much of prayer till he was confirmed but once he was confirmed he won over them for the Lord. It is marvelous to note in the manner he won St. Francis Xavier. After having chosen his companions he gave them Spiritual Exercises. And they were formed with solid determination and Zeal all for the Greater Glory of God. He formed them all spiritually, physically, mentally, psychologically, and emotionally. Then they were prepared to work for the Magis. He sent them to different corners of the world. They never hesitated to go and do the will of God. They found God in everything they did.
The first companions called themselves Friends in the Lord, and I feel that I am also a part of the first companions. By entering this least society, and having pronounced my First vows in the same society, it is incumbent to be called the friends in the Lord. As I live my everyday life as a Jesuit, every aspect of my life is to be shaped as that of the first companions. The way of our proceeding remains the same as it was at the beginning the society. It is a great privilege and grace to be called companions of Jesus.
The first companions of Ignatius came from different socio-cultural backgrounds and yet lived as “Friends in the Lord.” In this Juniorate also there are scholastics form different socio-cultural backgrounds and yet we try to live in accordance with the norms and the proceedings of the same society. Though we differ in mental toughness, physical strength, intellectual capacity, interest, talent, taste so on and so forth. This difference or diversity doesn't stop my growth as a Jesuit but it enriches my whole being altogether. All these differences are the core of my strength. I can live as “Friends in the Lord.” By understanding others, putting up with others' weaknesses, accepting my own shortcomings, and trying to avoid the occasions of criticism even at a critical moment. I wouldconcentrate on the positive aspects of my companions. Thus I try to accept others as they are. When a misunderstanding occurs I try to clarify it by getting into a mild conversation. I would share my joy and sorrow with them. If some one is going on in a wrong direction I would try to bring him back. I would learn from my own mistakes and from others as well. And in this way I can live as “Friends in the Lord” in my community.
In response to Vat II, GC 31 tried to re-found the Society of Jesus. Yes, I think that the GC 31 captured the original Charism of Ignatius. As the Church became more conscious of the needs of the modern age, she re-articulated her response in modern ways. The GC 31 reformulated many of the documents through the eyes of the ' signs of the time'. Many norms were abolished, and new ones were promulgated so that the Society of Jesus could respond effectively in its mission for the Lord.