In our time, riches have become the object or rather the source of the more popular philosophy and politics: it is the most cultivated idol; parties and governments are more demonized because of their obsession with it.
Why have hordes of workers deserted the Church? Because they believed it allied with the rich. A Franciscan conduct of the Catholic priests and laity will reconvert them. One who is poor in spirit limits his expenses to absolute necessities of life and also with regard to what conditions his vocation and position are in. He abstains from every expense for luxury and lechery, and whatever is extra is allocated to the others – his brothers—if not in the form of alms, today not a custom, in an increase of productivity to give jobs to the unemployed and goods to society. That effort to be poor among the poor is also a quest for Jesus who is in the poor: finding another channel for the divine on earth.
Igino Giordani, The Patron of Italy – St. Francis today, Pontifical Work for the preservation of faith, 1955, p. 175-176
The mystery of poverty
In recalling this excerpt, Albert Bèguin notes: “The mystery of poverty is at the centre of our Gospel. Why is it that today we no longer dare to speak about it without feeling a bit uncomfortable and without fearing that the Christian vocabulary is criticized as a hypocrite alibi or like an offence to those who for us, are the poor, but who no longer want to be called as such? The issue is immense and decisive, and above all a torment.” (Esprit, 1954, p.338-9)
The answer is that the poor have been disappointed with the pretext of the Gospel (“there will always be the poor in your midst,”), too many times by Christianity without Christian practice. Now they want to do it on their own, rebelling on political grounds and going towards both paternalism and the religion it is wrapped in and seeking “redemption” in an atheist world, outside of Christianity. And so poverty as St. Francis complained, from the sovereignty of the universe is made to resemble a desolate widow, and sees friends turn into enemies. They struggle, while in some places the men of work – the poor – are already victorious and have thus, from poor people, become powerful.
Igino Giordani, The Patron of Italy – St. Francis today, cit., p. 177
Work and Prayer
A basic fact of human redemption today is work. It becomes a powerful means of divine redemption, if interpreted the way Christianity sees it. Prayer and work (ora et labora) were for the friars, as for the monks, a point on which to reflect and prolong the divine-human unity of the Incarnation. Derivate heresies and philosophies have separated the two components, destroying that unity in which prayer was a necessary work to nurture the soul, and work was the prayer of nature to ascend to the supernatural. This division created some grave importance to prayer, and others gave importance to work, and it was like separating the first commandment which regards God, from the second, regarding man. Working according to the law of the Gospel, the action for earning one’s bread concurred with elevating one’s soul and gaining Paradise. Reciprocal unity with God, which is the source of life and joy, reacted at work, ennobling it as a redemptive factor of the spirit.
Igino Giordani, The Patron of Italy – St. Francis today, cit., pp. 177-178
Work and materialism
In the system of materialism where word invades the place of the divine, there is no longer that movement of the spirit which consists in the assiduous going towards God to unite oneself with him. So action is empowered and contemplation annulled, and activism thus provokes physical wear and tear, within which the soul is extenuated up to desolation and desperation, and where that nausea and anguish that some philosophy presents as the characteristic of the individual, disjoints the grouping of followers. This results in a gradual disintegration of the human person. Of course, he defends himself, perhaps especially where activism has taken the rhythm of a frenzy, as Krause pointed out for his country; in fact more popular and attractive manifestations of renewed spirituality?? or even mystic manifestations have come about. (Merton, Sheen).
Igino Giordani, The Patron of Italy – St. Francis today, cit., p. 182