Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Dorothy Day on Voluntary Poverty


Dr. Larry Chapp

For Dorothy Day, voluntary poverty is the only true path to sanctity because it alone teaches us to see in all things the beauty and glory of God in their essence, and not to view things as possible tools for my well-being, even if it is allowed to me to use them.  True and holy poverty allows us to be indifferent before the world in the sense of not viewing things first and foremost through the prism of my self-interest.  It teaches us rather to view things, even and perhaps especially very simple things in their essential beauty as manifestations of the profligacy of God’s gift of existence.  There is nothing that “belongs to me.”  There is nothing that is ultimately “mine” in an atomized and individualistic sense.  The spirit of grasping acquisition is the spirit of the machine, of control, of violence, of domination, of ugliness.  It is the instrumentalizing spirit of modernity where all is monetized and put into the service of consumptive excess. And such excess is justified on economic grounds, which further legitimates the tools of war, now deemed necessary in order to protect what is justifiably “mine” and “ours.”  And war is the ultimate symptom of the destitution of our spirit.


Poverty and Kenosis in Communio, Fall 2015, 393.