Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience for All

Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience for All

Somebody who used to come to me for spiritual direction just pronounced his final vows in a religious order. Since I witnessed his discernment to enter religious life, I wanted to attend. Public dedications to service, holiness, and love are privileged times not to be missed.

His superior preached about how vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience made my friend’s life different from the lives you and I lead. True to some extent, I thought, and I had to resist the temptation to ask if I could throw in my own two cents.

What I kept thinking was that rather than making religious life different, poverty, chastity, and obedience actually indicate how all our lives are alike.

Don’t we all need to decide what role money, sex, and authority will play in our lives? Religious vows celebrate one road to personal and Christian authenticity, but all of us have to choose a road of our own. How much money is enough? What responsibilities does wealth hold for us? How will we love and be loved? Who or what has authority in our lives?

Luckily these questions come with graces of their own.


Image: freedigitalphotos.net/Victor Habbick


About the Author

Joe McHugh is a spiritual director, retreat leader, teacher, and writer based in the Twin Cities. He contributes regularly to the National Catholic Reporter. His book, "Startled by God: Wisdom from Unexpected Places" is available at catalog.franciscanmedia.org. He can be contacted at jjmch1300@gmail.com.
  • disqus_3I6FB4Bz5p

    Today I found two of your recent blogs and find your insights very helpful; yes, poverty, chastity and obedience are virtues we all embrace as Christians.
    For many, I suspect the striving is more personal and therefore more
    ”fulfilling” when we elect to pursue our lives of virtue without the protection
    of the “enclosure”. We may be more alone in our quest, but GOD’s GRACE surrounds us if we don’t allow doubt to stand in the way.