May 2, 2020 11:45 pm

So it’s possible to say “Some religious are not very religious” (the second use of the word being an adjective).
Diocesan clergy do not take vows—so they are not “religious” (the noun) but can be very “religious” (the adjective). While diocesan clergy don’t take a “vow” of chastity, they do take a “promise” of celibacy (i.e., “I won’t marry so I’ll have no children who will hassle over inheritance of property with the Church”—a major reason why celibacy became law in the 12th century). Diocesan clergy can also be millionaires since they don’t take a vow of poverty (e.g., the popular writer and diocesan priest, Fr. Andrew Greeley of Chicago, wrote novels that made him a mint).
Countless spirituality books have been written about “the vows” and what they mean. But instead of thinking how difficult, or how inspiring, or how different from your life, or how “whatever” you think they are, consider this. Poverty, chastity, and obedience are abstractions, or concepts–drawn from the gospels. Because the words can be confusing, other words might be better alternatives (e.g., you look at poverty in Appalachia but your priest with a “vow of poverty” drives a decent car, and has health insurance, and decent living quarters. He’s not “poor” (because the “vow of poverty” does not mean that one be destitute). What, then, DOES the vow mean?
Whatever word you find helpful, the main point of each concept is that ALL Christians are called to live poverty, chastity, and obedience in some way. They are not words that refer only to how men and women religious live, but are words INTENDED to capture some basic Christian understanding of how Jesus calls all of us to live.
For example, instead of saying “poverty,” let’s think of “stewardship.” Instead of saying “chastity,” how about “hospitality?” And instead of using the word “obedience,” let’s use “partnership.” I’ll elaborate to get the ball rolling, but you’ll be able to do your own elaboration.
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