For it is better to suffer a little want than to have too much (Rule of St. Augustine, 18).
The difference between “need” and “desire,” while it may seem simple, demands attentive discernment. “Need” refers to something, the lack of which blocks the achievement of a necessary function of life. Basic human needs have been defined by physical, psychological and social studies. To be healthy, one needs food, water, sleep, etc. To develop humanly, love, responsibility, work, etc., are necessary. To have a democracy, freedom, education, the vote, etc., are needed. There is not much disagreement about such things. But “desire” is something else. It is a force that pushes toward gratification of “non-essential” needs. It is possible for people to live, even sometimes painfully, without the objects of their desires. In religious life, each member needs to discern real needs of life, what is absolutely necessary to function. The great difficulty is that desire often comes disguised as need, something that can seriously disorient the person and the community.
I am dying of a stomach ache, Mother, for having eaten everything. (Mongo)
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