The vice of personal ownership must by all means be cut out in the monastery by the very root…let no one all or take to himself anything as his own (cf. Acts 4:32). Rule of Benedict Ch. XXXIII
We have been brainwashed to believe that bigger houses…more luxurious gadgets, are worthy goals in life. As a result, we are caught in an absurd, materialistic spiral. The more we make, the more we think we need in order to live decently and respectably. Somehow we have to break this cycle because it makes us sin against our needy brothers and sisters and, therefore, against our Lord. And it destroys us. Sharing with others is the way to real joy. Ron Sider, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger.
…the rich man…who held his things lightly and who did not let them nestle in his heart, who was a channel and not a cistern, who was ever and always forsaking his money—this rich man starts (in heaven) side by side with the man who accepted, not hated, his poverty. Each will say, “I am free.” George MacDonald.
(From Benedict’s Way, Lonni Collins Pratt and Fr. Daniel Homan, O.S.B, pg 98-99.)
St. Francis of Assisi said, “If we had any possessions we should need weapons and laws to defend them.”. Also, Francis reasoned, “what could you do to a man who owns nothing? You can’t starve a fasting man, you can’t steal from someone who has no money, you can’t ruin someone who hates prestige. They are truly free.”
Benedictine harmony and Benedictine balance demand a simpler approach to life, not for the sake of false asceticism but for the sake of human freedom. The gods we have made for ourselves take so much more adoration time than any human being has to give. Joan Chittister, O.S.B.
Jesus said to his disciples, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Luke 12:32-33.
“Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.” Luke 12:27.
Part of dealing with how possessions effect our lives, is to be aware of how we spend and what certain material things mean to us. Do we buy things to fill a need? To keep us company? To help us avoid our own brokenness? Do we buy for status?