The young monk wore his rags with greater pride than the pope in Avignon his gilded crown. The Spirituals preached the poverty of Jesus and His Apostles and railed against the wealth of the clergy; but the Lord had blessed not the poor, but the poor in spirit — “Beati pauperes spiritu.” A clever distinction. As Augustine and Aquinas had noted, mere poverty was too easily attained to merit such a prize as Heaven. (p. 25, emphasis added.)
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“But poverty is not merit enough,” Dietrich cautioned Theresia. “Many a gärtner in his hut loves riches more than does a generous and open-handed lord. It is the desire and not the possession that diverts us from the straight path. There is good and ill in any besitting.” Before Joachim could dispute the point, he added, “Ja, the rich man finds it more difficult to see Christ because the glitter of the gold dazzles his eyes; but never forget that it is the man that sins and not the gold.” (p. 45.)
Quotes from Eifelheim by Michael Flynn (New York:Tor, 2006).