“Witnessing to Poverty. A Blessing and A Challenge”: the prior general of the Order reflects on evangelical poverty and proposes a roadmap for its practice among religious

The prior general of the Order of Augustinian Recollects, Miguel Miro, presents to all the religious on this day, feast of Saint Thomas of Vilanova, this document of 96 pages where he reflects and proposes ideas for the not only spiritual, but also practical and real experience of evangelical poverty.
News | 2020 Oct 10

Miguel Miró (Tarragona, Spain, 1949), prior general of the Order of Augustinian Recollects, during this celebration of the feast of Saint Thomas of Vilanova, one of the saints of the Augustinian Family who was a bastion living poverty and solidarity with the impoverished, has presented an extensive 96-page document entitled Witnessing to Poverty: A Blessing and A Challenge, with an evangelical phrase as subtitle: Happy are you poor, the Kingdom of God is yours! (Lk 6,20).

The context that has allowed the preparation and publication of this document is the same that millions of people have lived across the world: forced confinement to keep the spread of the coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease; times of suffering,discouragement and bewilderment, but also of solidarity and reflection:

“The pandemic obliged me to change my plans and suspend scheduled trips and visits, but it gave me more time for prayer, study, to calm my spirit and to be able to carry out other pending tasks. During these months, I have been drafting the document on poverty, which I am now sharing with you. I started it in March, while being stranded in Maracaibo, during the renewal visit to Venezuela, and lately during this lull in Rome I continued working on it and finally finished it”.

In the presentation of the document itself, the prior general explains the reason for this publication, an express request made to him by the 55th General Chapter of the Order of Augustinian Recollects (2016), which entrusted him:

“To prepare a document on the evangelical counsel of poverty and the way of living it today. Indicate in it the criteria that should guide the management of the properties of the provinces and of the Order in accord with the latest guidelines of the Holy See”.

Thus the prior general sums up his response to this Capitular request:

“I was asked to prepare a document on poverty. In response to this petition I propose we consider poverty as the experience of following of Jesus of Nazareth and as a liberating experience both in our life and in our mission.
[…] My wish, and my proposal, is you embody this experience in the current context, with its risks, challenges and opportunities. I am suggesting to you a paradigm shift: go from the desire to own and consume to living with gratitude in poverty and evangelical sobriety.
In this presentation I start with the first of the beatitudes: Happy are the poor!. In the second part, I propose you live with coherence and joy the option of poverty that we have professed. The third chapter looks at poverty briefly in the light of Saint Augustine, the history of the Order and our Constitutions.
In the fourth I make suggestions on how to live in poverty, the preferential option for the poor, the rethinking the economy and the relationship between poverty and ecology.
In the fifth chapter I point out some concrete guidelines for living personal and institutional poverty today. And I end with an invitation to gratitude and hope”.

The General Chapter itself, when describing the identity of the Augustinian Recollects in relation to their Vision of themselves, of reality and of the world in which they serve, specifies:

“We want to follow Christ who is poor. We need little and we hold our goods in common. We live with austerity, concerned more for what we have in common than for what is personal, and always giving thanks to God for his gifts, which we share with the poor and the needy”.

The prior general presents the experience of poverty as a grace, a challenge, a path of happiness and the way of being authentic for the people; also as a liberation from greed, from consumerism, from indifference; and as a springboard for an encounter with God and with the brothers by solidarity with the impoverished and forgotten.

The document has been presented today in Spanish, English and Portuguese in an electronic version and will soon be published on paper within the collection “Papers of Recollection”.

Content

1. “Happy are the Poor!”

1.1. The Spirit of the Beatitudes

1.2. Poverty in an Emerging Church

2. We Choose to Follow the Poor Christ

2.1. The Way of the Beatitudes

2.2. We are Prophets of the Kingdom

2.3. The Economy at the Service of the Charism And Mission

  • 2.3.1. Living Memory of the Poor Christ
  • 2.3.2. God’s Gaze: Charism and Mission
  • 2.3.3. Economic Dimension and Mission
  • 2.3.4. Operational Recommendations

3. Poverty in Saint Augustine and in the Order

3.1. In Saint Augustine

3.2. Among the Augustinian Recollects

3.3. Poverty in the Constitutions

4. Our Poverty: Grace and Hope

4.1. Liberating Poverty

4.2. Our Attitudes, Desires and Poverties

  • 4.2.1. Path of Grace and Humility
  • 4.2.2. Discernment and Communion
  • 4.2.3. Simplicity, Sobriety and Austerity of Life

4.3. Communion of Goods, Work, Solidarity

4.4. Preferential Option for the Poor

4.5. Rethinking of our Economy

4.6. Integral Ecology and Evangelical Poverty

4.7. A story to tell, a history to build

  • 4.7.1. Evangelization of the island of Negros,
  • 4.7.2. The Fazenda do Centro (Espírito Santo, Brazil)
  • 4.7.3. Social Apostolate in the last century
  • 4.7.4. A history yet to unfold

5. Guidelines in Observing Poverty

5.1. A Story to Tell, A History to Build

5.2. Personal Plan of Action

5.3. Augustinian Recollect International Solidarity Network

6. The Kingdom of God Belongs to You

Read the document

Español: Vivir la pobreza: gracia y reto.

English: Witnessing to Poverty. A Blessing and A Challenge.

Português: Viver a pobreza: graça e desafio.

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