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classic vows

November 20, 2009

The classic monastic vows include celibacy, poverty, and obedience.

What might those vows (or the spirit of those vows) look like in a context like mine where I’m married, have a financially growing business, and answer to no one. Well…

Celibacy would need to be reframed as chastity or purity. And in an age of internet porn being delivered right to our pockets via our phones not to mention our homes via every computer screen, that is saying something. Then there’s the advertising that just one generation ago everyone would have agreed was pornographic (yeah, I’m talking about Abercrombie and Fitch among others) now are commonplace. Huge challenge. Perhaps going cold turkey (vow of celibacy) is a good option. But not for me. I’m happily married and felt called to that path many years ago.

Poverty could still be achieved but simplicity may be more desirable. Again this is a question of degrees and calling. One of my heroines is Kathleen Daughtery. Her writings have inspired me over and over as she brought many easters traditions of the Christian faith to bear on the west. (more on her in a future post!) She is woman who had massive financial reserves at her disposal and gave them up for a life of personal poverty and living among the poor. That has always haunted me (in a good way). St Elizabeth did the same as did St. Francis and many others. I haven’t ruled that out. However I haven’t sensed that call either. I do feel called to simplicity and a strict financial stewardship as my net worth has increased in recent years. I hope to give large sums away. First i have to make it. The trick is not falling in love with it before I give it away.  Like the Pslamist says, “When riches increase, do not set your heart on them.”

Obedience would probably look like community discernment or submission to a spiritual director where I bare all. Tracy and I have always said we have taken a vow of stability to Norwood and the people of Vineyard Central. The only thing that could trump that would be if the community discerned together that we were to go elsewhere. That’s one concrete way among others we need to explore that we have tethered ourselves to a community to not make decisions in isolation and be submitted to God’s leading via others.



One Comment leave one →
  1. Julie Gross permalink
    November 23, 2009 3:38 pm

    This reframing is exactly where I had hoped you would go. Let’s press more deeply into this?

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