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THE MEMBERS OF THE SOCIETY IN EUROPE
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