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A religious wrote a letter to the Major Superior: “For a week I have been unable to sleep knowing that I have cheated on my vow of poverty. I did not turn over the stipends that I received and here I am enclosing a check of P2, 000.00. If I still can’t sleep, I will turn over the rest next week.”
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“A religious community is a group of wonderful persons who live together spatially in the same domicile and in the same time frame. They share many things in common. They share common meals, participate in common prayers and even may view the same T.V programs. They draw their disbursement money from a common fund. They discuss community affairs at house meetings. As needed, they drive cars provided for common use. They talk pleasantly to one another at the table and in the common rooms. A good education is provided for them. They are well provided for with housing, clothes, recreational facilities, and travel money. Their medical costs are completely taken care of. In short, the religious and community life appears to fulfill the scriptural promise of a hundredfold now, plus an eternal treasure in heaven.”
Who would ask for more? God has been so good that giving thanks to Him should not even be a question.
Counting our Blessings
Robert Heilbroner, who has written dozens of books on the subject of the economy and material wealth, suggests that we go through a little mental exercise that will help us count our blessings. Imagine doing the following, and you will see how our daily life is far more comfortable than a billion people in the world.
- Take out all the furniture in your house except for one table and a couple
of chairs. Use blanket and pads for beds.
- Take away all of your clothing except for your oldest dress or
shirt and one habit. Leave only one pair of shoes.
- Empty the pantry and the refrigerator except for a small bag of dilis,
some sugar and salt, a few potatoes, some onions, and a dish of dried beans.
- Dismantle the bathroom, shut off the running water, and remove all the
electrical wiring in your house.
- Take away the house itself and move the community into the tool shed.
- Place your house in a shantytown.
- Cancel all subscriptions to newspapers, magazines, and book and internet connections.
- Leave only one transistor radio for the whole community.
- Move the nearest hospital or clinic ten kilometers away and put a nurse -in-charge instead of a doctor.
- Throw away your bankbooks, stock certificates, pension plans, and insurance policies. Leave the community a cash hoard of five thousand pesos. .
- Give the community a few hectares to cultivate on which they can raise a few hundred pesos of cash crops, of which one third will go to the common fund and one tenth to charity.
- Lop off twenty-five or more years in life expectancy.
By comparison how blessed we are! But with our blessings come responsibility. We should use our blessings wisely, not be wasteful, and help others.
The Gospel which is not . . .
Jesus summoned the Twelve and sent them to proclaim the kingdom of God. He tells them, “Whatever house you enter, stay there . . .!”
The major superior summons a religious and tells him, “whatever religious house you are assigned to, transfer from there and leave from that house.”—either because the religious is damaging the community or the members of the community have damaged him. In some cases, a religious is transferred from one house to another at an average of three houses every triennium, like somebody you know.
The most important thing that I've learned in my frequent transfers around the province is that there are no strangers, only welcoming confreres and lay friends who still care in spite and despite of everything! . . . . and you are one of them.
Let me tell you this story:
Near Tokyo lived a great Samurai, who decided to teach Zen Buddhism to young people.
One afternoon, a warrior – known for his complete lack of ethics – arrived there.
The young and impatient warrior had never lost a fight. Hearing of the Samurai’s reputation, he had come to defeat him, and increase his fame.
All the students were against the idea, but the old man accepted the challenge.
All gathered on the town square, and the young man started insulting the old master. He threw a few rocks in his direction, spat in his face, and shouted every insult under the sun.
Disappointed by the fact that the master had received so many insults and provocations, the students asked, “How could you bear such humiliation?
Master: “If someone comes to you with a gift, and you do not accept it, who does the gift belong to?”
Disciples: “He who tried to deliver it!”
Master: “The same goes for envy, anger and insults.”
When anger and insults are not accepted, they continue to belong to the one who carried them. Do not take insults hurled at you personally. According to Don Miguel Ruiz, author of the classic book ‘The Four Agreements’ - “Even when a situation seems so personal, even if others insult you directly, it has nothing to do with you. What they say, what they do, and the opinions they give are according to the agreements they have in their own minds… Taking things personally makes you easy prey for these predators, the black magicians. They can hook you easily with one little opinion and feed you whatever poison they want, and because you take it personally, you eat it up …
But if you do not take it personally, you will not become a slave to their opinions.