[As taught by Fr Iker]
What has to be lived by everybody? How do we live the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience? Generally, the vow of poverty includes and is based on the Christian attitude of poverty, namely, the will of the Father, the salvation of mankind. All other things are in terms of this will of God. Surrounded by people and things, we have to keep in mind the main value: the will of God and the salvation of mankind. The vow of poverty includes the imitation of Christ poor and a participation in His poverty. The apostles were poor but they were not without money. Matthew was a tax collector and some of the others were fishermen. We refer to the spiritual poverty of Christ. Christ became poor for us. (Phil. 2) This may have different aspects. It is related to the way I will live with poverty. It includes the intellectual aspect. When we are dealing with the things we value in life or the way we value things in life.
1 Cor. 2:3 I was resolved that the only knowledge I would have while I was with you was the knowledge of Jesus, and of Him as the crucified Christ.
Phil. 3:8-9 But what were once my assets I now through Christ Jesus count as losses. Yes, I will go further: because of the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, I count everything else as loss. For Him I have accepted the loss of all other things, and look on them all as filth if only I can gain Christ
What are the things I mentally value? What are my dreams? What do I long for? Name? Fame? A rich life? Summer vacations in an island in the Pacific? Besides the intellectual aspect, there is also the social aspect—our behaviour. Christ was born in a manger. He lived in a little town in Nazareth. He had simple, ordinary friends. He did not reject the rich but He dealt mostly with the poor.
Luke 7:22-23 Then He gave the messengers their answer, ‘Go back and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind see again, the lame walk, those suffering from virulent skin-diseases are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, the good news is proclaimed to the poor;
It is not with whom I meet or socialize. So whom do I long to meet? Do I long to be with famous people? What manifestation of the Spirit of poverty is there? The material aspect concerns what I use in my life.
Luke 9:58 Jesus answered, ‘Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay His head.’
We are to have necessary things, not useless things. We are to have ordinary things, not special things. We are to live frugally in our dressing, our eating and in the way of living. The material aspect really originates from the social and intellectual aspects. (Read 89 and 90 on consecrated life, aimed at religious sisters)
Other related elements—part of the vow of poverty— include an occasional lack of things such as psychological insecurity, lack of power, simplicity of life and sharing. Collective ownership is practiced, for example, in the Society of Jesus. One works eight hours a day. Part of being poor is to work. There are no poor people who do not go to work but go to golf clubs. Why? The motivation is not to work endlessly so that I can be satisfied myself. I must work until I can no longer work. Then I accept it and that is really the spirit of poverty. ‘Why do I do what I do?’ is an important question to ask.
Psychological development. Personal and/or inter-personal needs come from the fact that our hearts are not free. We are not poor. Many other things which are not for the salvation of the world become our needs and our worries. So we are not free. Poverty should give us tremendous freedom and we are concerned with the salvation of the world.