21. The Remedy for the Ambition for Power: Poverty
The Phalangist, the disciple of Christ, no longer lives for this passing world but for the Kingdom to come. He knows that to serve this kingdom demands detachment from him. Was not Christ tracked down and surrounded, to be finally “ raised up from the earth ”, by ambitious and avaricious men – Judas, Caiaphas, Herod and Pilate ? The Phalangist knows that the evil of this world lies in its lust for power, its ambition for domination and honours, and its unbridled quest for the wealth to support such aims. He has heard his Lord curse money as a dangerous instrument, a subtle and fearful means of perdition. He welcomes this insistent lesson of his Master’s and puts it into practice.
1. Besides those disciples who sell their goods and distribute them to the poor for the Kingdom of Heaven, there are other servants of God who live in this world without ambition or avarice and who hold it an honour for each one to stay in his condition without seeking to rise and without falling. The Phalangist will take his inspiration from this highly virtuous tradition of Christian civilisation and will administer his inheritance for the good of his own and for the use of all, without attaching his soul thereto.
2. The spirit of the Gospel, however, will go even further and will prevent him from yielding to the depraved appetites which stir in men in these times and shake the very foundations of civilisation – appetites which make worldly honours, sharing in power, and the accumulation of wealth the principles of politics and economics, not to say the supreme laws of human morality !
The Phalangist will reject any system where the pursuit of honours, the exaltation of power and the love of money come first.
3. In contradiction to these worldly passions, the Phalange will apply itself to practising strict evangelical poverty. It will live by the generosity of its members without contracting debts of gratitude towards anyone and without falling under the protection of any power. Nor will it grant to its most dedicated servants and leaders any worldly honours and any rights to participate in the direction of the Phalange through flattery, lest its independence be thereby lost.
Finally, the Phalange will remain faithful to the spirit of the Gospel by working to establish and strengthen those political and social institutions and powers that are most alien to the tyranny of money. For itself, it will never be a path leading to honours, power, or the sources of wealth. For the Master came not to be served but to serve, not to dominate but to experience the abjection and humiliation of a poor man.