Poverty December 5
This vow obliges us to relativize our desire to own and dispose of things according to our own taste (Congolese Regional Statutes, Intro. 1.16).
In his commentary on Psalm 51, Augustine asks, “What advantage is it to present oneself with empty hands if the heart is full of desire for things?” For him the asceticism of the vow of poverty includes this double commitment: empty hands, empty heart. A person enters religious life emptying his or her hands, i.e., renouncing personal property and putting it at the disposal of the community. One empties him/herself of material goods, human resources, personal whims. But presenting oneself with empty hands does not satisfy the evangelical requirement. One must also empty the heart of desire for possessions. The religious must always assume a posture that favors the emptying of the heart. The journey from empty hands to empty heart in religious life is progressive and challenging, but it’s necessary to arrive so as to verify the integrity of one’s religious profession. There must be a constant discipline to live soberly so as to eventually live as simply as possible. To live in such a way is to have the advantage promised by the Gospel.
It’s not the hand that gives, but the heart. (Tanzania)