Let us be poor mangers, where the virgin Mary
may place the child Jesus
Christmas Letter
, 2005
Mother Adela Galindo
Foundress, SCTJM
For private use only -©

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven". (Mt. 5)

Christ proclaims "Blessed", meaning- happy, are those who are poor in spirit. This is a great teaching and a great revolution for the mind and for the human heart!  Who would tell us that happiness is found in being poor in spirit, in being detached, in renouncing voluntarily our dominion over things, and that true joy is found in having freedom of heart.  Yes, free- even including, and first of all, from ourselves, from our "attachments," "interests," and "projects"...all that has become for us a "treasure." All this, which we guard, protect, defend and fight to keep, are the riches that do not permit Christ to be born fully in our hearts.  We must empty our hearts to be able to make room for the Child, who in the arms of His Mother, comes and wishes to abide in us.

To be poor in spirit means to empty ourselves of the worldly treasures in order to be filled with the spiritual treasures: the treasures of the Kingdom.  It is an interior attitude; it is a state of the heart which Christ invites us to undertake as a way to reach true happiness and authentic freedom.  This is the only Beatitude which has a promise of possessing, here on earth and afterwards in eternity, the greatest treasure: the Kingdom of Heaven.

What a paradox! Only he who dispossess himself of everything is able to possess Everything- the infinite and the eternal: the Kingdom of God, God himself. This is precisely where the joy of poverty resides, in emptying ourselves of everything, to possess He who is everything.

The Beatitudes present to us concrete conditions to reach the Kingdom. Yes, holiness, spiritual growth, spiritual maturity, and advancing on the road that leads us to the fullness of the Kingdom, requires a series of "conditions" which expand the heart to open wide the door to Christ.  There is no other way to experience the "treasures of the Kingdom," other than to be poor of heart.

Poverty in spirit is the actual and voluntary detachment of all that in our hearts occupies a place that belongs only to God, of all that opposes the interior liberty which each of us- according to our vocation, should attain, in order to be able to generously hear and do God's will. The Servant of God John Paul II when speaking of the beatitudes, specifically of the poor in spirit, said to us: "The divine Teacher proclaims "blessed" and, we could say, "canonizes" first of all the poor in spirit, that is, those whose heart is free of prejudices and conditionings, and who are therefore totally disposed to the divine will. Their total and trusting fidelity to God presupposes renunciation and consistent self-detachment" (November 1, 2000).

What a profound reflection on this virtue. Poor are those whose hearts are free of "prejudices".  To my understanding this is directed to the mind, since prejudices are ideas and ways of being deep-rooted in our manner  of thinking, of reasoning and of giving a value to things. Prejudices are a very earthly way of "seeing and thinking."

All attachments to our own judgments, thoughts and ways of seeing things is a wealth that those who are poor in spirit renounce, in order to let themselves be formed by the mind of God- since His ways are not our ways (Is. 53).  In fact, we can affirm that His ways are very different from ours in value and content.

Poor, according to the Pope John Paul II, are those who have their hearts free of "conditionings."  What does this mean? I believe he is speaking of those interior attitudes, of those selfish limitations, of those calculating actions of self-defense and evasion of sacrifice- of those amalgamation of interior forces that oppose themselves in our hearts to the love and the will of God.  All these conditions and resistances- often hidden, bind us on our generous, wholehearted and faithful following of Christ.  All attachments to these conditionings of the heart is a wealth that the poor in spirit renounce, in order to make room for the great potentialities of love that reside in our hearts.

The Pope concludes the paragraph with words that although simple, are very challenging: Their total and trusting fidelity to God presupposes renunciation and consistent self-detachment”. Generally, we think that the invitation that Christ proposes to those who want to follow him to “leave everything” refers primarily to material things- which we, in the measure appropriate to each vocation, generously surrender to God. However, this “everything” begins with a detachment from our very selves. “The one who would follow me must deny his very self.” (Lk 9:23-24). The first condition needed to reach the virtue of poverty of heart is a detachment from our own selves.

How much wealth we can have in our hearts, and yet just because it is interior it does not mean it is not a wealth. “Wherever your treasure is, there is your heart” (Lk 12:34).  Whatever is inside the heart is reflected on the outside. The poor in spirit do not need much externally, since they have the interior habit of conforming themselves with little, they are happy with little: they do not ask or expect much, they do not construct castles in the air, they do not seek great satisfactions, they do not create grand illusions, they do not project their ego’s onto their work. They do not grasp at anything other than God, and they enjoy everything that God gives them, because it comes from His hands. Because they are free, they can equally restitute them to the Lord. The poor in spirit look in everything, for everything and as an end to everything- God Himself.

Only those poor of themselves can be filled with God and all that He desires to concede to them. Only the poor in spirit can yield when the road they had been traveling on, is suddenly obstructed, when their dreams do not come true, when their plans disintegrate. Only the poor in spirit know how to give true value to things, since their balance is not weighed down by their own expectations or sentiments, but rather, is completely emptied of their very selves- leaving everything in God to acquire its true weight and worth. Only the poor in spirit know how to live joyfully, not asking for anything, not demanding anything, but rather expecting everything from God. They know that God gives in just measure: not so much as to asphyxiate and distract the heart from its only treasure, nor less that the heart can not find it. But the more or the less, for the one who is poor in spirit is not a measure that he takes into his own hands, but rather, he abandons it in God’s hands, allowing Him to make the determination.

That is why my brothers and sisters, to be poor in spirit is the fountain of joy, that joy that was announced to the shepherds: “I announce to you a great joy. A Savior has been born to you” (Lk 2). A Savior came to the world in the simplicity of a manger and from there proclaimed, not with his words, but with an eloquent gesture: the Reign of God is for the poor in spirit, for those who have a heart as simple as a manger. In one of his recent general audiences His Holiness Benedict XVI invited us to place ourselves before a manger this Christmas, since: “The crib can help us, in fact, to understand the secret of the true Christmas, because it speaks of humility and the merciful goodness of Christ, who ‘though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor’ (2 Corinthians 8:9). His poverty enriches those who embrace it and Christmas brings joy and peace to those who, as the shepherds, accept in Bethlehem the words of the angel: ‘And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger’ (Luke 2:12). It continues to be a sign also for us, men and women of the 21st century. There is no other Christmas.”

May the poverty of the manger, sign of the poverty of the Heart of Jesus and the Heart of Mary become for us this Christmas a luminous message:ABlessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”. (Mt. 5)

May the Blessed Mother, teacher of poverty of spirit, who at every moment kept Her Heart dispossessed of everything in order to welcome only the will of God- acquire for us this Christmas, with her maternal intercession, the grace of growing in such a exalted virtue, so that our hearts can become humble, poor, simple and joyful mangers where she can place the Child Jesus.

From the poverty of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, in union with St. Joseph,

Mother Adela
Foundress SCTJ

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