[quote="The_Scott, post:1, topic:262547"]
I don't know if I should put this in the Vocations forum or somewhere else, but I figured that it should be here since it applies to my discernment.
So, all religious orders (that I can think of; correct me if I am wrong) take a vow of poverty, chastity, and obedience. The last two vows are self-explanatory. However, what exactly does the first one qualify as? Isn't it relative from person to person?
In the Middle Ages, for example, the Dominican Order was a "begging" order, along with the Franciscans. They owned literally nothing, except for the clothes on their back. Now, that is nearly impossible today.
My question is: in light of this changing perception of poverty, what does it exactly mean in religious orders? Do they only own their clothes and personals (toothbrush, etc), while everything else is communally owned (books, food, religious objects, etc)? I know that different orders have different degrees of poverty.
It depends from order to order.
For instance, the Cartusians who live in the same cell the whole life, have nothing at all, except the bare minimum and the Carmelites, in the feminine, too.
Now, the Jesuits, who have such a variety of works, it depends. there are 7000 jeusits in mission and they wear and use what the people of that country use, be it in the jungle of the Amazon or, very differently in Japan. In the USA, which has a car rate of 1 car per person, the jesuits own many car but not so in India or Indonesia, where they may travel byt byke or motorbyke.
Now, the thing about Religious poverty is spiritual. A Jesuit has a special vow that no other religious ordder has. the obedience to the Pope, so if told to go somewhere tomorrow, he will go. So, maybe with the same freedom maybe one day the Jesuit may be having a sumptuous life with actors and actresses in Hollywood and next day he will change his life (maybe forever) with the indians in the Jungle of Amazon.
He is free: he knows that the riches of Hollywood are not his and the goods in the Amazon are not his either: he belongs to God. So he uses the things as long as they lead him to God.
What is the difference between the rich and the poor in Christ. The rich, when bankrupt, is despaired and may jump throught the window. The poor in Christ maybe rich or poor, he is not attached to the material good, he id "indifereent" to them, he uses them as long as they'll take him to God, not as a good thing in itself.