These are wonderful examples of selfless service.
I am sure it is much easier to put on the poverty of Christ in a country such as Russia, from what I have seen, some of the needs are indeed pressing. (Especially in the orphanages)
Coming from Evangelical Protestantism, it took a great deal of work and grace, for God to convict me of my avarice because it just wasn't being taught. I remember one Wednesday night in Phoenix, in the non-denominational church where I was Baptized, I was sitting on the far right (almost out of sight of the speaker), who just happened to be Richard Wurmbrandt (Voice of the Martyrs).
He was seated on a stool because of the damage done to his feet in Romanian prisons. The Lord was speaking to my heart about the materialism I had fallen into since my Christian conversion. I was resisting.
He was talking about our price, that is, what would we be willing to give up, where would we draw the line, "This much I will give up, but no more than this."
Here I was sitting almost out of his line of sight and he turned his head and looked right at me, into my eyes and said, "What is your price?" That cut me so deeply to the heart I wept and begged the Lord to deliver me from my avarice that I might be willing to give Him everything. Little did I know He would have to draw me to St. Francis, the RCC, before I could learn these lessons.
We went from a three story townhouse in Annapolis, Md, with our four children, to a tar paper cabin on the side of a Pennsylvania mountain. And I was happier with my life than I ever imagined I could be. The hardest thing was not the poverty and lack, but the loss of social standing, the scorn and contempt, even from the parish.
I understand the principle about the Divine Liturgy and the Mass, being an experience of Heaven, but it seems that it has escalated into something excessive. Something that predisposes men to pride and avarice. I'm not speaking of monastics here at all, although I have been in some very well done (by worldly standards) religious houses.
When I think of the Bishop of Rome, as a reflection of Jesus, I see the poverty of the first Apostles as the standard. I have a very hard time with galleries filled with antiquities and treasures, it seems more proper that a worldly institution should be responsible for such things.
The Lord could have come into wealth, like a king in His castle, instead He chose the poverty of a carpenter, and with a towel around His waist, he served.
It seems this kind of wealth (I'm not picking on the RCC, it is in other churches as well) predisposes the religious leaders who are entrusted with the safekeeping of our souls, to become preoccupied with distractions and luxuries that lead to a dissolute and worldly lifestyle.
What are your thoughts?