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By Pie-Raymond Régamey, O.P.
Even the most cursory review of Sacred Scripture ought to make plain the primacy of poverty in the Christian life. Granted that primacy of place, however, poverty is still widely misunderstood in both concept and practice. With confidence and compassion, Pie-Raymond Régamey, O.P., examines the precise nature of poverty, considering both its material sense in the absence of tangible goods and its spiritual sense in the possession of the virtue of humility. Poverty in the spiritual sense is the power by which the Christian is drawn to Christ. Yet spiritual poverty alone is not a guarantee of sanctity: “Those who have only interior poverty,” in the words of Blessed Antoine Chevrier, “run the risk of having none at all.” Thus does the Christian need to practice poverty in a material sense—by detachment from, indifference to, and even proper enjoyment of, nature’s riches. On the strength of this foundation, Régamey offers in conclusion a study of the relationship between poverty and wisdom and the crying need for properly Christian poverty in a mechanized, materialistic, money-obsessed age.
Blessed are ye poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. (Luke 6:20)
God does not consider what we possess, but what we covet. (St. Augustine)
With Scripture and Tradition as its mainstays, Poverty is an engrossing presentation of an essential element of the Christian life, one with the power to instill and sustain the virtues needed to emerge triumphant from this valley of tears.
Pie-Raymond Régamey, O.P., (1900–1996) was a French Dominican priest, art historian and author. After serving France in World War I, he converted from Protestantism to the Catholic faith. Along with Poverty: An Essential Element in the Christian Life, his works in English include The Cross and the Christian, Religious Art in the Twentieth Century, and What Is an Angel? (his contribution to the Henri Daniel-Rops-edited Twentieth Century Encyclopedia of Catholicism).
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