There are two kinds of poverty, the holy and the unholy. The unholy is like damp rot, it is the poverty that men should not accept. It is forced upon them by evil and injustice. Everything that it touches rots and decays; it is verminous and dirty; it breeds bitterness, fear, and hatred; it is the misery generated into the world by the union of fear and greed.

The other, Holy Poverty, is different. It is the poverty that flowers to frugality; it teaches men the glory of working for those whom they love and lifts their minds to contemplation; they discover in it God’s Fatherhood. This poverty does not ask for rest, it possesses peace. It is content with necessity. It has the vision which enables the heart to discern between the essential and the unessential. It has the humility which makes it invulnerable, the freedom which goes with having nothing, the gratitude that goes with having everything. It is poverty made lovely because Christ has taken it to His immaculate heart.

Caryll Houselander ‘The Dry Wood’


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