Friday, March 22, 2013

Holy Poverty

I'm a college student, and I'm wondering whether I have a religious vocation. I know that my favorite thing is Mass and prayer! I go to Mass everyday and spend a couple of hours praying every day, and I would love to increase that significantly. I'm trying to be patient with myself right now because I've only recently returned to the Church after a long absence (caused largely by a poor understanding of the Church as a child). I would LOVE to have kids, but I honestly don't see myself happy in the marriage vocation without children, which makes me think I may not be called in that direction. I also fear that I'm imagining this pull I feel toward religious life.

I do have a couple of questions, Sister.

1. How do rules of poverty work in most communities? Do you have "spending money"? Are you allowed to be given gifts? Is there money available for visiting family sometimes?

2. I've always felt so jealous that priests can go to seminary and learn so much about Catholicism! I know that whether I'm a religious or a lay person, I want to study as much about the faith as possible. I think the Dominicans are known for this. Do you know any other orders particularly known for the education of their sisters?

3. Do you have any advice about what I should be doing now? I pray about this a lot, and I've looked up religious communities online. Is there anything else?

Thank you so much, Sister!
The vow of poverty is practiced differently in different communities. It is also dependent whether the religious is bound by solemn or simple vows. Solemn vows oblige members professing them not to own or keep a patrimony (inheritance etc.). Simple vows allow patrimonies as long as it is not administered by the religious her/himself but designates a guardian to manage this for her/him. Simple vows allow religious to use material items with permission but not allowed to own them. I profess simple vows and so I have permission to use a computer, a car, or radio. they belong to the community for all its member's use. I cannot claim anything as my own. In reality, simple and solemn vows differ mostly in canonical restrictions more than in practice. We do have a monthly stipend to buy personal care items, stamps, cards, etc. The amount is decided by each community. Gifts given to one religious technically belong to the Community. If one wants to keep it, permission by the local superior must be obtained. Expenses incurred by the individual religious is shouldered by the Community. the idea of financial dependence is inherent in the vows.

Since Vatican II, more and more opportunities for human and personal growth are made available to Religious. Studies in areas of theology, psychosocial fields and healthcare are highly encouraged not only for the benefit of the Community's ministry but also for the Sister's own growth. The extent of study will depend on the Community's ministry and finances.

If you have Orders you found on-line which attract you, you should pay them a visit or make contact with them. Bring down the theory to practice! Narrow down your search and ask questions. Know what you are looking for. Pray everyday to the Holy Spirit to enlighten you. And most of all, do everything without any pressure or urgency of finding. Sometimes we get caught up in the adventure of searching, we don't see it even when it's staring us in the face! Do not be afraid to try once you find it. Religious life is a very long process. You don't become a Sister or Nun once the convent gate is closed behind you. Once you take the first steps, God will do the rest. Do not be afraid.

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