The Pope gave a teaching on the monastic St. Theodore yesterday:
The principles of poverty, chastity and sacrifice for the good of the community, which are characteristic of monastic life, are valid for all Christians, Pope Benedict XVI said.
During his weekly general audience May 27 in St. Peter’s Square, the pope used the example of the Byzantine monk St. Theodore the Studite to explain how the virtues that monks and nuns strive for should be emulated by all in everyday life.
St. Theodore, who was born in 759, emphasized the ideals of “renunciation of private property, freedom from material things, sobriety (and) simplicity,” the pope told the crowd of about 14,000 people. “This extreme form is valid for monks, but the spirit is valid for everyone,” he said.
Over the years, I have become more and more convinced that we all have a call to the religious vows of poverty, chastity and even obedience. Yes, for a non-religious they must be modified to fit one’s state in life, but each principle is a fundamental Christian principle, not an ideal for just a few.
I especially think the vow of poverty is a beautiful gift for all Christians, but perhaps it is too misunderstood today. Perhaps calling it a “vow of simplicity” would be better suited for it to be understood by your typical layman. Obviously a father must have enough money to support his family, but living a more simple life can prevent material attachments from choking the spiritual life.
A great book that I would highly recommend is “Happy Are You Poor: The Simple Life and Spiritual Freedom” by Thomas Dubay. It is a wonderful treatment of how the Christian should treat material goods in their life.