Need the Latest iPhone? Maybe Not.


Our annual summer silent retreat is underway, and we are going to share it with you.

You can make this retreat at home, if you wish, by reading each reflection and taking time to reflect, journal, sit in silence or walk quietly through a beautiful place.

By Sister Stefanie MacDonald, OSB

The vow of monastic poverty calls us to simplicity of life through a lack of personal possessions.

Benedict writes:

For their needs, they are to look to the mother of the monastery, and are not allowed anything which the prioress has not given or permitted. All things should be the common possession of all, as it is written, so that no one presumes to call anything her own. (Acts 4:32) (RB 33)

Monastic poverty is not material-world impoverishment. It is not going without food, water, shelter, medical care.

Monastic poverty is having our needs met without undue expense. It’s living simply. And it’s sharing possessions, so that we are not possessed by our stuff.

Monks hold all things in common. That is, the smart phone that I use for my ministry as vocation director belongs to the whole community. When I leave that ministry, the smart phone will stay with the office and not move with me.

Benedict says, further, that we are to care for all monastery goods as if they were “sacred vessels of the altar.” Why? So that the goods continue to be in good shape and useful, no matter who uses them next.

The detachment from material goods – and the attentive care provided to them – helps promote peace among the Sisters. There are no “haves” and “have nots.”

We all are both, together.

We don’t need the latest and greatest iPhone or iPad. Holding all in common and living simply creates a spirit of grateful detachment.

Monastic poverty is about clearing out what can get in our way.

It helps us focus on what’s important in this life: Not what we have, but who we are.

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