Ask a friar…The Vow of Poverty

I understand that the Dominicans follow the Evangelical Counsels.  Could you discuss the vow of poverty?

In the tradition of the Order of Preachers, the evangelical counsel of poverty concerns the communal ownership of all goods.  No friar can claim personal ownership of anything in the community, nor does he receive a salary for his particular work.  Instead, we hold in common everything from cars to books, and all of the income earned by the brothers is held collectively and used according to the brothers’ needs.  We live this way because as Scripture says of the early Christians, “All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need.” (Acts 2:44-45)  Living a life of communal poverty helps us to grow in love for God, one another, and all people.


Poverty should be distinguished from certain spiritual practices, such as fasting, that are more appropriately related to asceticism.  There is much virtue in self-denial, as it helps one grow in compassion for the needy, connects us with the suffering of Christ, and enables one to submit the flesh to the spirit.  However, evangelical poverty is not concerned with individual piety, but rather with helping a consecrated community grow closer to Christ.