I was flipping through a recent issue of Newsweek, and the cover story caught my attention. Its focus is “giving globally”—how we can help bring basic vaccines, clean water, food, and health care (among other things) to impoverished people throughout the world.
The photos and captions are a rallying cry and a reminder that we need to give generously to help those who are impoverished: those who are starving, naked, homeless, and sick.
I need the reminder, because I don’t meet many of these people in my daily life. They are, for the most part, confined to pictures and served by my checkbook and my prayers.
There is another kind of poverty, though, that I encounter almost every day: spiritual poverty. We are surrounded by people whose souls are emaciated. They have been spiritually starved, neglected, abused, misused, or ignored.
Watch people as you go to work, run errands, even as you go to church. Listen to what people talk about. Look at what’s on television. (Then again, don’t look.) There is a sickness of soul that pervades our society. We find that sickness even in ourselves.
Physical poverty only kills once, but spiritual poverty can kill twice. It deadens the soul in this life and can condemn it for eternity. Christ calls us to fight spiritual poverty. But how?
Yesterday we celebrated the memorial of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. St. Thérèse worked for the salvation of souls by doing every little thing for the love of Christ. Her life is a reminder that all the little things we do for God add up. I have the chance—when I go to the grocery store, go to work, go to church—to be kind to others for Christ’s sake, to be patient for Christ’s sake, to go the extra mile for Christ’s sake. And in doing so, I can fight the poverty of my own soul and help, hopefully, the souls of those around me.