and women of all congregations make a vow of poverty.Is there a
specifically Jesuit way of living it?
Of course, because the Society of Jesus has been a
very special Order since its origins. Until that time, poverty was linked to
the monastic life. The monks lived this vow by pooling their resources in a
monastery. The Society of Jesus, on the other hand, is an apostolic Order, made up of members dispersed according to the
needs of the Church. The Jesuit lifestyle must be both poor and apostolic. In
fact, St Ignatius said that Jesuits should have a lifestyle like that of “Jesus
and the apostles.” There is a missionary dimension here, of insertion in the
world, which influences the way of living the vow of poverty.
Is it complex? Yes! This objective of living apostolic
poverty has always been a source of tension. Having nothing, but at the same
time being able to be efficient in the apostolate, which needs very concrete
how do Jesuits link their vow of poverty with their commitment to fighting
poverty for a more just world?
Well, you need to add an essential adjective to the
poverty of the Jesuits. It is an evangelical
poverty. My letter to my companions is not a reflection on sociological
poverty; it is about the vow of poverty.
Poverty is not inherently good. St. Paul said it: “Jesus became poor in order
to make us rich.” Jesus is not poor because he lacked the essentials; he made
himself poor. Poverty is the result of the gift of oneself, of generosity, of
love for others. This is the vow of poverty: to surrender oneself in order to
follow the dynamic opened up by Jesus of giving oneself generously, entirely,
poverty is the fruit of injustice and not God’s will. God does not want this
poverty. Evangelical poverty, on the other hand, is enriching because it gives
life. It offers inner freedom, it enables detachment from possessions, and it
opens up sensitivity towards those who suffer from the poverty caused by
injustice. The images of the Kingdom of God are without poverty; they present
the abundance of God’s gifts.