Basis for poverty vows?


#1

I was chatting with a Baptist friend of mine about vocations. She mentioned a pastor friend of her pastor that makes $100.000 a year and drives a BMW. I guess I looked shocked and she asked me why. I said that I guess I was used to people in the religious life as taking vows of poverty and such. (I’ve heard that priests don’t take an actual poverty vow, that nuns do, but priests do something similar) She laughed. She then rolled her eyes and said that it’s “not necessarily the call of a Christian to live like they’re poor.” I told her the passage “take up your cross and follow me” and the story of the rich man that Jesus told him to give up everything he had and follow him. She replied that that can mean different things for different people and just because they may want to be in the religious life doesn’t mean they have to give everything up.
Then she segued into what’s really important is making Jesus your personal savior and I dropped the issue…:rolleyes:
I was wondering if anyone had any comments on this. What is the history behind taking such vows in our church? I’d like to be prepared with some good stuff if it ever comes up again. :slight_smile:


#2

Hello

The Parish Priest is paid on a weekly basis, (Which is a set amount) so whatever he does with his money he is entitled to do spend it sensibly. But I must stress it is not a lot of money.

Some orders do take a vow of Poverty which ones sorry I cannot give you any for I might say something in error.

God Bless
Saint Andrew.


#3

I think that Poverty (as an evangelical counsel) is ultimately embraced *in imitation of Christ. *Holy men and women have embraced poverty out of love of Jesus, and in order to unite themselves more closely with Him.

See, 2 Corinthians 8:9

For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that for your sake he became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich.

And see also, Phillipians 2:1-8

1 If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. 3 Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, 4 each looking out not for his own interests, but (also) everyone for those of others. 5 Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus, 6 Who, 3 though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. 4 7 Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, 8 he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.

The Holy Father, Benedict XVI commented on this passage of scripture recently: vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2005/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20050601_en.html

Entering into the sentiments of Jesus means not considering power, riches and prestige as the supreme values in our lives, for basically they do not respond to our most profound spiritual thirst, but rather, by opening our hearts to the Other, carrying with the Other our life’s burden and opening ourselves to Our Heavenly Father with a sense of obedience and trust, knowing that by such obedience to the Father, we will be free. Entering into the sentiments of Jesus: this should be our daily practice of living as Christians.

For some more info on poverty see this very interesting article at New Advent:
newadvent.org/cathen/12324a.htm

It would also seem that poverty (material poverty as well as spiritual poverty) acknowledges a fundamental truth of our being – that in and of ourselves we have nothing. All of creation is dependent on God’s generosity.

What do you think? Does this help? I hope you can have some stuff ready if she mentions it again!


#4

[quote=Saint Andrew]Hello

The Parish Priest is paid on a weekly basis, (Which is a set amount) so whatever he does with his money he is entitled to do spend it sensibly. But I must stress it is not a lot of money.

Some orders do take a vow of Poverty which ones sorry I cannot give you any for I might say something in error.

God Bless
Saint Andrew.
[/quote]

Diocesean priests draw a salary. I believe in Chicago it’s about $1,100 per month. A religious priest, meaning a priest that belongs to a religious order, that resides in a parish does not draw a salary.


All religious orders take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Some orders take solemn vows of poverty while others take simple vows. Solemn vows means a religious gives up everything. A religious doesn’t own anything, he/she lives entirely off the community. Simple vows means a religious may own things, but he/she cannot use them. For example, if I’m a religious in simple vows, I may still have a bank account, car, house, etc., but I cannot use them. I have to put them in a patrimony, which means someone else is responsible for looking after my possessions.


Whether it is solemn vows or simple vows, a religious may only live off of the community. Most religious receive a stipend from the order to take care of everyday needs like toothpaste and shaving cream. The stipend can also be used to buy clothes as needed.


Whether a priest is diocesean or religious, he should be living the spirit of poverty, which means detachment from all things to follow Christ.


#5

that protestant pastor is supporting a family, and according to Billy Graham, should be paid (in salary, benefits and other perks like housing) an amount equivalent to the average his congregation makes. A protestant congregation has to take that into account when the call, or hire a pastor. diocesan priests do not take a vow of poverty, most members of religious orders do, but it varies, also the practical details of what that vow entails also varies among orders.


#6

first, you should bring up this point… a six figure salary is MUCH more than the average national salary. if he was taking 50K a year that would begin to be more modest and reasonable. where does he get his salary? from the money that people donate to the church in good faith that it will be put to the service of helping the poor. Where should at least half of that 100K a year be going? to the service of the poor. Where is the money for the poor going? into ridiculous extravagances for a “shepard” of the people who is bleeding their charity for a good deal of all its worth. sick, if you ask me.

as to the orders, i dont know that all orders necessarily take up a vow of poverty. however, a priest doesnt earn much either way, so its not like a vow of poverty is particularly needed for all orders. I BELIEVE that the benedictines generally take a fairly strong vow of poverty as compared to other orders.


#7

Mary Margaret Funk writes about ‘things’ in her very good book called Tools Matter for Practicing the Spiritual Life. You can order it here
amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/082641351X/104-7905205-9474353?v=glance
$7.99 used
Here is a small taste of her writing.

THINGS

As we are not our thoughts, we are not our things. Things are just another thought. If we give our hearts to things, we divert our attention fromGod. Things can be a substitute for God. If things take the place of God in our heart, then things become an idol. We worship things and give honor to things instead of to God. We have a right relationship with things when they mediate God, but things cannot be our goal.

Not only do things substitute for God, they also take on a life of their own. Things beget things: one thing, more things, better things; we must secure our things; we must have freedom to care for them, resources to protect them. The train of thoughts continues.

We can never be satisfied with things; there are never enough, never any stopping places. This causes restlessness, grasping.

Is there any way out of this? Yes, we must come to a profound awareness of our right relationship to things. It is an illusion that we possess anything. No possessions can satisfy our grasping tendency for more.

As an antidote, we must remember that all things come from God. We must remember that all things are gift to us creatures. The monastery is an alternative culture where the original order in the myth of the Garden of Eden is played out. The abbot, in the name of the community, bestows things, and the monk has all his needs met through the rituals and practices of obedience. The ancient investing ritual of a novice, wherein the monastic receives the habit, is an investing in new life. It is like receiving the new garment of baptism. Starting over, much like being born again, the novice gets a second chance. Entering a marriage or moving to a new city can also provide a similar occasion.

Both householder and monastic must refrain from attachment to things. It is not optional for a Christian to ignore the poor. The three practices of fasting, almsgiving, and prayer might be translated: right use of things, giving and receiving according to need, and being grateful for all that is given. We can use things as a mirror. In each thing we can see and remember God rather than act or use things in themselves “as if” they were God. We can walk in the presence of God (not things) and tend to them graciously. When we do this, our life’s work is more like ritual and worship. We are mindful and not full of worry or anxiety.


#8

[quote=promethius]first, you should bring up this point… a six figure salary is MUCH more than the average national salary. if he was taking 50K a year that would begin to be more modest and reasonable. where does he get his salary? from the money that people donate to the church in good faith that it will be put to the service of helping the poor. .
[/quote]

several family members belong to various Protestant denominations and their Sunday offerings - usually tithes - are given primarily to support the material needs of running the Church, paying salaries, including the pastor, lights, AC all those things, Sunday school, the congregations ministries and outreaches, but the overhead comes first. they also give for various social justice and charitable purposes, but that is usually over and above the regular tithe.

as far as the average salary, it depends on where the pastor lives, what is normal for that area and his congregation, and the need. Most larger congregations also support, besides the pastor and administrative staff, someone to direct Sunday school, choir director, possible youth pastor or someone to serve other special groups.


#9

Thank you guys for your great replies, yes, I’m learning a lot and hopefully I’ll be all set if this comes up again. The links were very helpful. :slight_smile:
This particular pastor lived in my area, where I am positive $100,000 a year is not the norm. Probably half that. I think she mentioned that he is married, but she didn’t say if he had kids to support.
If I see her anytime soon I might ask her about it again, just to get the whole picture :hmmm: It just seemed a bit much to me. I mean, the fancy car and everything? I don’t know…


#10

[quote=contemplative]Mary Margaret Funk writes about ‘things’ in her very good book called Tools Matter for Practicing the Spiritual Life.
[/quote]

I am impressed by the excerpt you provided.

This spring, I tasted but a small amount of the lesson of the rich kid. As a junk gatherer all my life, I have always been attached to things. Gosh, sometimes I even used to feel sorry for things when they got broken. Anyway, on Good Friday this year I lost a few things without getting a chance to sort through them first. After thinking about it a while, I realized these temporal things I’ve lost are not important. Those I need can be replaced. Those that can’t be replaced obviously aren’t things I need anymore, since I will be taken care of like the flowers and birds.

When the rich kid walked away in sadness, it is probably because he anticipated a hardship with separating from his things. He wants to follow Christ, but his things have become barnacles – even idols – as he can’t imagine life without his “fruits.” We think we have to have “something to show for” our work, and things are a worldly indicator of our past.

What he didn’t realize, is the tremendous freedom Jesus was offering him. Jesus wasn’t trying to get him to jump through a hoop to prove himself, He was trying to get the kid to renounce attachment to material things so he can get about those things that last. It was about freedom from the world to gain spiritual freedom, not self-punishment. Maybe the kid thought Jesus had “set the bar” too high, but it was really an escape route, not a hurdle to which one falls back to earth after clearing.

I figured our fire was really God’s way of helping me “jump out of the plane” as it were, and trust my heavenly parachute. Really, we don’t need to store up worldly things and I’ve known for years this is a problem for me. Until this spring, the story of the rich kid always scared me some because I imagined I’d do just like he did.

I still dream of owning my own Learjet, but what’s a guy to do?

Alan


#11

Sadly I know of too many churches where the “health and wealth” Gospel is preached. For my part i would like it if every televangelist and TV pastor was set at $5.15 and hour. Churches like this though tend to burn out pretty quick from what I have seen. The Church eventually sees the racket for what it is and the pastor moves on. In the cases where you have a six-figure salary that is WAY more than a pastor needs (you also need to take into consideration the spouses income, my mother makes 65k a year as a teacher so even with a modest 35k they make a combined 100k a year before taxes).

One thing I look up to my father for is the fact that we never had a new car when I was growing up. My father was a senior pastor and he drove a sensible used Toyota, same for my mom. Even though they can afford much nicer things they never made them as much of a priority as taking family vacations and giving to local charities. We didn’t have a big house but we had enough to get by. Even now my parents only recently got a new car; a standard issue Camary. I have learned quite a bit about humility from my parents so I feel blessed.


#12

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