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23. TO THE MEMBERS OF THE SOCIETY IN EUROPE

On Patience in Practicing Poverty

 Rome, December 24 1552

summary | text of letter  | footnotes


          Though this letter of Ignatius is brief, nevertheless, it is full of affection as he exhorts his sons to embrace the grace of poverty. To help them accept it with greater readiness and cheerfulness, Ignatius reminds the Jesuits of their brothers in India. The letter was written in Italian [Ep. 4:564-565].

The peace of Christ.

          From various letters we learn that God our Lord is visiting your reverences with the effects of holy poverty, that is, the inconveniences that come from being deprived of certain temporal goods which are necessary for health and the body's well-being. It is no small grace that the Divine Goodness deigns to bestow on us in allowing us actually to taste that which we should always desire if we are to walk in the footsteps of our guide Jesus Christ, and in conformity with the vow taken in accordance with the Institute of our holy order.

          Truly, I do not know if there is any place in the Society where the members do not have a share in this grace, though one place might feel it more than another. Suppose we compare ourselves with our brothers in India, who, while involved in such corporal and spiritual labors, are so ill provided with food that in some places they do not even have bread, to say nothing of wine for drinking. There they have to get along with a bit of rice and water, or something similar, and as little nourishing. They are ill clothed and have a minimum of bodily comfort. If we compare ourselves with them, I do not think that our suffering is excessively hard. We can also imagine that we are in our own India, which is to be found everywhere. If he who ordinarily provides us with our necessities fails, we can then resort to a holy mendicancy, by which means we can supply our needs. All things considered, if God our Lord wishes that we too have something to suffer, see that nothing is lacking the sick; those in good health will have a better opportunity to exercise patience. May our Lord Jesus Christ, who has made patience so lovable by His teaching and example, give it to us, and may He grant us His love and a relish for His service in preference to everything else.

          From Rome, December 24, 1552.

Footnotes