Taking a vow of poverty does not denote destitution, which can be oppressive. Properly understood, poverty is freeing! By their vow of poverty, religious seek to remove from their lives all of those things and possessions that distract them from heavenly concerns. Religious strive to use necessary items with a sense of detachment so that their attachment may be to God alone and their concern may be to serve others with the same charity with which God cares for them.
Ultimately, religious profess the evangelical counsel of poverty in order to better imitate Christ and to intimately share in the renunciation of the Incarnation. Jesus was born poor, lived and died poor, and counseled those who seek perfection to sell all and give to the poor. He chose a life of poverty not only for Himself, but also for His Most Holy Mother. She witnessed His poverty and lived it with Him.
Renunciation of possessions, however few or great, was a fundamental requirement for those called to follow Christ by totally giving of themselves. Evangelical poverty bears witness to the truth that material possessions are not a lasting treasure and that this life is a preparation for eternal life where our only Treasure, our only Desire, will be God Himself. By faithfully living religious poverty, that future reality can be a present reality as well.
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