The essence of Christian spiritual combat is, with the strength of faith, to maintain a hopeful outlook on every situation, on ourselves, on other people, on the Church and the world. Such an outlook enables us to react to every situation by loving.
Contemplation in the Franciscan tradition can be a lot like the experience of conversion that takes place when we enter into a new relationship. When we enter into a new relationship, make a new friend, date a new partner, give birth to a new child, or form some other significant bond with another person, rarely are our lives changed in discrete, particular, and compartmentalized ways. Instead, something about us shifts. Something about the way we see the world is now informed by that relationship, and we can no longer go back to seeing things exactly the same way again. Maybe we are drawn to a new hobby or interest. Perhaps we look at art with a new eye or hear music with a new ear. Such is also the case with God. The more deeply we enter into relationship with the Creator, the more our outlook on the world changes.
The moment of Profession is a specific moment. It doesn’t just happen. It is prepared for and is joyfully anticipated. It is specific, so that we know exactly what is happening and why. It is a moment not to be forgotten, whose impact is transformational and dictates all we do and say from the moment of profession on. Fr. Felice [Fr. Felice Cangelosi OFM Cap in Profession in the SFO: Gift and Commitment] says that it is the “foundational moment in the identity of the Professed.” This moment changes everything.
The world seeks freedom in the accumulation of possessions and power. It forgets that the only people who are truly free are those who have nothing left to lose. Despoiled of everything, detached from everything, they are “free from all men” (1 Corinthians 9:19) and all things. It can be truly said that their death is already behind them, because all their “treasure” is now in God and in him alone. The people who are supremely free desire nothing and are afraid of nothing. All the good that matters to them is already guaranteed them by God. They have nothing to lose and nothing to defend. These are the “poor in spirit” of the Beatitudes, detached, humble, merciful, meek, peacemakers.
You ask how you can live a life of poverty while in the world? Well, if you can let go enough of self so that the life of God may live in you — so that you can truly belong to Him, you will be exercising the highest poverty. You will also be living out the promise of obedience by quieting your own voice enough to be able to hear what the Lord has in store for you.