Random Nun Clips

How do you balance the vow of poverty with the necessities for everyday life?

Podcast Recorded: March 6, 2014

In this Random Nun Clip, we talk with Sister Jill and Sister Cathy about the vow of poverty in relation to simplicity and the common life. Hear the full podcast at AS153.

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About our Guest

Sister Jill Underdahl serves  in young adult spirituality and vocation ministry. Sister Cathy Steffens is a teacher of ecology and spirituality, a facilitator, and a spiritual director.  They are Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondolet, St. Paul Province.

Transcript (Click for More)+

SISTER MAXINE: We’re here in St. Paul Minnesota on a Motherhouse Road Trip with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondolet. Our guests are Sister Jill Underdahl and Sister Cathy Steffens. Here in the chat room we have a question that came in from Franciscan Heart who asks, “How do you balance the vow of poverty with the necessities of everyday living?” I think, Sister Jill, you had talked about simplicity. Do you want to say a little bit more about what that means, to live simply, and how the vow of poverty is connected with that?

SISTER JILL:  Sure. I think there’s a couple of ways of thinking about it. Certainly one is being mindful of the resources that I am using and that I am possessing as a person. Also, how is it that I can gain the resources that I have? With that, there can be kind of an invitation perhaps, to even spend a little bit more money on some things, particularly with environmentally friendly products or the kinds of food that we purchase. Then there’s probably a give and a take in other areas of the budget in that sense. I don’t know that simplicity always calls us to spending less but simplicity does call us to being mindful.

SISTER CATHY: I think another way to look at that is the common life, because poverty is a little misleading, because you look at us and we do not live below the poverty level in the sense that the government defines it. But that common life idea is just a conundrum to so many people, because I remember being an Adjunct Professor at the University of North Dakota and I asked that the check be made out to the Sisters of Saint Joseph and not to my name. It threw off all of their systems. (laughter) There is just no way that they understood how do you do this. Even people that I just talk to, we’re not talking about a business thing, we’re just talking about it  happening, people say, “You what? So if you make $80,000 and somebody makes $18,000, you all throw it in together?” Yes, we do! And then you live on what you need. We don’t save for vacation in the same way. We don’t think about adding a new room to the house or something like that. I think common life is a good way to look at it.

SISTER MAXINE: When you do have those conversations about how to use resources, it’s usually—like my sisters are married, so they talk about it with their husbands, their kids. Here, you talk about it with a couple hundred people easily. (laughter) That’s a lifestyle change, I might add.

To hear full episodes of A Nun’s Life podcasts, visit the podcast page at anunslife.org/podcasts.

This transcript has been edited for readability.


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