Book Review: Happy Are You Poor 

Mar 7, 2024 | Blog, Book Reviews

by Thomas Dubay

I follow a Franciscan monk who recommended this book.  He said he found it particularly challenging.  It intrigued me that a man who has given up everything to live a life in service of God found a book on spiritual poverty challenging.  So, of course, I had to read it.

            It is a challenging book.  We live in a country of such material affluence that even our poor are far richer than many other people on earth and certainly richer than even past kings and emperors have lived.  Gospel poverty, in theory, sounds wonderful but we are very far from putting it into practice.

            What Father Dubay writes of is a radical way of living.  It’s to rethink what we buy, what we keep and what we give.  Where is our heart?  Is it here, in this world?  Or is it yearning for the next?  He points out that everyone says they want to live like Christ but few are actually doing it.  And then he tells you how to live Gospel poverty.  There are various levels, but even the easiest is not easy.

            Happily, because of the decision we made to trust in God when it came to our family planning, we are accidentally living Gospel poverty in many ways.  And you know what?  It hasn’t been that bad.  You do kind of learn to go without, to make do with what you’ve got and to be generous when you’ve got extra because you’ve had your down times and that helped you grow a heart to help people out of their down times.

            Don’t get me wrong, we have very far to go when it comes to living perfect Gospel poverty, but I’m happy that God has prepared us for even being open to it by sending us a bunch of kids and showing us that we could do it even if it’s because we’ve been kind of forced to.

            It is a challenging book, but it is a very good book. It’s probably a book every Christian should read to really give himself perspective on where his heart is when it comes to material wealth.  We are each called to different levels of radicality when it comes to living Gospel poverty, but most of us probably aren’t anywhere close to even the easiest. Father Dubay provides a clear blueprint for living it and is convicted that the reader will feel better internally for having lived so.  Because it’s how we’re made to live.

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