as a claretian missionary, i have constantly revamped and renewed my vow of poverty as a way to follow jesus. there are various frameworks for this vow such as sharing and the stewardship of time treasure and talent. as it stands today, i see it primarily as simple living: to see material things as instruments to live life well; to let go of non essentials
i remember in 1992 when i visited my relatives in the philippines. they live in candon, ilocos sur on farmland with various crops and animals. after cleaning up after dinner, they sit on the porch, tell stories, remember experiences, laugh, joke around sometimes sing. it was then that i had this observation: “in the united states we have all these things that help us save time: washing machines, dishwashers etc. but we have to spend so much time with our things that we don’t have time for one another. everyone is busy. here you don’t have any stuff that saves you time, and you have all the time in the world just to be with one another”
this was well before technology really took over in order to make our lives better and save even more time! (after smartphones in 2007 it’s been an avalanche!!)
so, for me, to simplify is to be able to focus better on what is essential in my life and in faith, in my vocation as a claretian priest– to, as much as possible, minimize the distractions
the image that comes to mind is a wall with works of art (pardon the pun). when a wall has all sorts of stuff on it, it can be overwhelming to see. then it takes time to look at everything one at a time. the message it sends is that each piece is as important as the others. but when a wall only has one or two pieces of art on it, our eyes easily focus on what has been chosen as most important.
the vow of poverty really does help me focus on the essentials of my lifestyle as a claretian priest such as service, being attune to the Spirit, availability, prayer, seeing injustice. this is a unique was of striving to love. after entering seminary in 1988, this has been the framework for my life. at times i do okay with it all; at times i get off base. that is why i constantly need renewal. but it has helped define and shape who i am
moving back to seattle to help care for my mother has highlighted the differences in lifestyle. being a homeowner has never been a goal for me. perhaps it is because my parents had a home and it was what i knew and took for granted. but i always have had an adventuresome spirit and being home was generally confining to me. but now, i am learning how to care for all the things of a home (as well as being a “parent” to my own mother). i am learning of the various tasks that are needed to live a home life. i often feel inadequate in this “home ownership world.” for so many years i had been living a totally different style of life. now i worry about all the things of home life. so it’s been a shift for me.
it has all highlighted my simplicity axiom: the more stuff i have, the more time i have to spend with the stuff. and it has affirmed for me that being a home owner/ homebody is not my call. but for now, it must be done.
i think the Spirit is trying to teach me what if feels like to stress and struggle with the material necessities of having a home life. i pray that in the future, this firsthand knowing will make me a more compassionate minister of the God’s love an grace.
perhaps my own vow of poverty, will help people who have to live in the world focused on material things. how to more easily let go of what is non essential and live life more simply. thus being more focused on the most primary things in life
more to come…
Very true fr art
Being a homeowner myself, I understand. I can also relate about becoming our parents parent. I care for my father who is 82 and at times acts like a 5 yr old.