A vow of poverty is a vow that is taken by those who subscribe to a particular religious belief to forsake personal possessions and use everything they have in common for the mutual benefit of everyone within the community. It involves the communal ownership and use of properties as against personal ownership and use of these properties.
The vow is often misunderstood by many to mean living in a state of abject poverty. Living in extreme need is not the essence of the vow of poverty. Instead, its reality is to prevent the focus on worldly possessions that distract from the worship of Jesus Christ. The vow helps its subscribers to live a life of simplicity, and one that is focused on trusting God for the daily provision of their needs.
The question is, do priests take a vow of poverty?
In answering the question, do priests take a vow of poverty; it is essential to note that not all priests take a vow of poverty. Though most of the priests take a vow of poverty, not all of them do. Some priests like the diocesan priests do not take a vow of poverty. They only take vows of chastity and obedience. However, they are expected to live very simple lives depicting the life of a priest.
How Did The Vow Of Poverty Originate?
The origin of the vow of poverty is traceable to St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis was born into great wealth but decided to give out everything he has. He chose to live a life of complete evangelical poverty. According to him, ownership of private property was forbidden and seen as evil.
He gave out all his worldly possessions and decided to live as a poor man among the poor in society. He focused on living a very simple life, in poverty, and serve God in humility.
The central point of his belief was achieving solidarity with the poor and identifying with what it meant to be poor. Firm believers of the Franciscan Order are dedicated to the poor. They are committed to a lifetime of working with the poor and attending to their needs. They exemplify concern for the poor and live like them.
The Different Religious Orders That Subscribe To The Vow Of Poverty
It has been mentioned earlier that all priests do not take a vow of poverty. However, it is commonly misconceived that all priests take a vow of poverty. It is only members of some religious orders like the Benedictines, the Dominicans, and the Franciscans, etc. that take the vow of poverty.
A religious order refers to a community of people of the same religious beliefs that profess solemn vows. The vow of poverty is a vow that is peculiar to the Catholic Church. Thus we will be looking at the various religious orders within the Catholic Church. We will also look at the specific religious Order that professes the vow of poverty.
The Carthusian Religious Order
The Carthusian Order is traceable to St. Bruno of Cologne. It is a monastic religious order whose core value is a reflection of solitary living and community living. They do not take the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. However, they live in mutual understanding of these principles, and it constitutes part of their lifestyle. They do not take it as a vow of the Order, but rather one out of a personal choice and conviction.
The Benedictines Order
The founder of the Benedictine Order is St. Benedict of Nursia. It is also a monastic order that is focused on prayer. It also focuses on daily manual work. It also based on fraternal love and communal living.
Members of the Benedictine Order take the vow of poverty alongside the other vow of Chastity and Obedience. However, they express the application of these vows in a modern manner.
The Dominican Order
St. Dominic of Caleruega founded the Dominican Order. This religious Order is also known as the Order of Preachers. It is centered on a life of poverty and living a simple life. It also promotes great academic pursuits in their service to the church.
The Dominican priests do not take a vow of poverty. However, like other forms of the priesthood, they are expected to live simple lives. They profess the vow of obedience and seek to remain obedient and chaste.
The Franciscans Order
It has been mentioned that St. Francis Assisi founded the Franciscan Order. This Order seeks to follow Jesus by believing in fraternal love, poverty, and a life of living like the poor.
Franciscan priests profess to a vow of poverty and committed to a lifetime of working for and serving the poor. The Franciscan community works in a different capacity in society, all in a bid to help poor people. They serve as teachers, nurses, administrators, and other roles that they can.
Some members of the Franciscan community are known by their brown habits, while others are identified with black, white, or gray habit.
The Jesuit Order
St. Ignatius of Loyola founded the Jesuit Order. These sects of the Catholic Church are not known by any particular or uniform habit. However, they placed great value on the doctrines of service to humanity, love for Jesus Christ, and holding on to spirituality in the pursuit of all things in life.
From the onset, the original members of the Jesuit Order took a vow of poverty. They had taken a vow of chastity and obedience under their founder, Ignatius. To date, the members of the Jesuit Order still take these three vows. Also, they take a vow of obedience to the Pope.
The Jesuit Order is so concerned with education and has contributed a lot to the building of great universities globally. The United States alone has recorded twenty-eight universities that are founded by the Jesuit Order.
The members of the Jesuit Order are more liberal in their thinking and seem eager to accommodate members of other religious backgrounds. This Order ensures that Theology is taught in their universities and educational institutions and firmly driven by the vision to provide free access to education for everyone.
The Salesian Order
This Order is also referred to as the Society of St. Francis de Sales. Like the Jesuit Order, they are also not known by any particular habit or uniform. St. John Bosco founded this Order.
The Salesians live only for Jesus Christ and the Gospel. They profess the vow of poverty, chastity, and obedience and work in this vein for the ministry of young people. They are involved in active ministry work by reaching out to young persons in schools, parishes, clubs, and youth centers.
The Augustinian Order
This Order is also referred to as the Order of St. Augustine. It was founded by Pope Innocent IV when he sought to bring together various groups of Hermits in Italy. It was at that point that the Pope had given them the rule of St. Augustine.
This Order is centered on love and truth. Augustinian priests take the three vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. They are not allowed to own personal properties. They do not receive salaries and do not also pay taxes. Whatever they use is shared by the rest of the members of the community.
The Diocesan Order
Diocesan priests fall under the category of priests who do not take a vow of poverty. They usually live alone and do not live as part of a community. Though the parishioners often provide their accommodation, they cater to their other needs and pay taxes and insurance. As a result of this, the priests are more understanding when asking their parishioners to donate money for a specific need. It is because they understand the cost of living as they do not depend on charity and the parishioners to take care of all their needs.
The Carmelite Order
The Carmelite Order started as a community of hermits that developed their own rules, which was later accepted by Pope Innocent IV.
The Carmelites profess to a vow of poverty, just like others that have been mentioned.
The question, do priests take a vow of poverty, has been answered in the course of this article. You should not be confused about whether all priests take a vow of poverty. The truth is that not all priests take a vow of poverty. Most of them do take a vow of poverty. Some of them also do not profess to the vow of poverty. The bottom line is that though not all priests take a vow of poverty, they usually live a life of simplicity. Priests are naturally expected to live very simple lives that are not focused on the accumulation of worldly possessions.
You May Like This Article As Well: