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Answer 1: Partially it is a form of self discipline, to remove yourself from greed, envy, and covetousness; and to focus your efforts on doing the work of God.

It also ensures that any one member of the monastery or friary community will use a bare minimum of the resources available to it, thereby causing the entire community to consume less, which, in turn, means that there will be more that can be used for such things such as helping the poor.

Answer 2: Friars have always been called to live lives pursuant to the so-called "evangelical counsels," which are vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. With friars, poverty, then, is quite intentional. Many friars are also mendicant, which means that they literally beg for their food, and money to support the friary, and the order.

Starting in the 6th century AD, monks did not vow the evangelical counsels, but did take the Benedictine vows of obedience (to the head of the monastery), stability (committing to a particular monastery), and what was called "conversion of manners" (largely forgoing private ownership of things, and celibate chastity).

It was, in fact, the arrival on the scene of the very mobile (and so stability was, right there, not required) friars, in the 12th century, and their "evangelical counsels" vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, that caused monasticism to start re-thinking their own vows. Not long thereafter, even monasticism began vowing the "evangelical counsels;" and modern Roman Catholicism's canons 654-658 of the Code of Canon Law now require the "evangelical council" or "councils of perfection" vows of chastity, poverty and obedience of all holy orders.

Both monks and friars, then, are now avowed to a life of poverty; they have no choice.

The answer to the question, then, "why did monks and friars live a life of poverty," is that monks, at least, didn't necessarily have to, at first. Friars always did. Eventually monks (and nuns), too, did... and still do...

...because, in the main, they've promised to (though a vow is actually more potent and binding than a mere promise).

If the questioner is asking why the need to require friars and monks (and nuns, and priests, too) to live lives of poverty in the first place, then Answer 1, above, is probably about right.

That answer, in fact, explains why monks starting from the 6th century lived lives of poverty even before the friars came along in the 12th century, with their "evangelical counsels" vows of actual poverty, and caused the church to compel even monks to take vows of poverty, too. Even before monks were avowed to poverty, then, they saw the value of living a life of it so that more could be given to the persons they served... typicallly the poor and impoverished.

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Catholic AnswerMonks do not take a vow of poverty, they take a vow of conversatio morum which commits them to poverty - among other things. Friars take a vow of poverty. This vow of poverty - or conversion of manners - is complete, it means that a monk or friar literally does not own the clothes on his back, they belong to his community. Back when I was reading the book, In This House of Brede, which was about a forty year old woman entering a Benedictine monastery in England back in the late 50's, she was describing a common feature, the nuns would gather each day, in community, and confess their infractions of the Rule. One old nun came forward, knelt before Lady Abbess, and proceeded to confess, with tears in her eyes, "I have broken our false teeth." She had dropped her dentures, and they had broken on the stone floor. But she knew, just as any junior monk just making his vows, that they own nothing, not only not the clothes on their back, but, in some instances, not even the teeth in their head!


There is a very good reason for this, poverty is an evangelical counsel of Our Blessed Lord to everyone. Everyone doesn't have to take it quite as literally as an elderly Benedictine nun, but everyone who aspires to be called a Christian by God on his death bed, better take all of Our Blessed Lord's "suggestions" very seriously. We came into this world with absolutely nothing, and we will leave this world with absolutely nothing. When we stand before Our Blessed Lord at the end of our life, we won't even have our bodies - it will be cooling in the bed in which we died. And we BETTER have nothing "in our hands" (in other words, we are holding on to nothing that we think is MINE) because if we value one single thing more than Our Blessed Lord, then we will have that thing and hell for the rest of eternity. That is why monks and friars joyfully take a vow of poverty, and why each of us must learn from them.

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Q: Why did monks and friars take vows of poverty?
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How were friars and monks different?

Friars live the evangelical counsels (vows of poverty, chastity and obedience) to service the community. Monks practice asceticism (living alone or with other monks) and devotion. Monks are self-sufficient, whereas friars live among other people and rely on donations. Friars are can also travel within a wide area, but monks stay in the same place.

What three promises did monks and nuns make?

There were four for monks and nuns: the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, plus the vow of stability (meaning a commitment to remain within their monastic community for the remainder of their lives).Friars took only three vows (poverty, chastity and obedience).

Who besides religious priests make special vows?

Regular diocesan priests make promises of celibacy and obedience to the Bishop. Members of Religious Orders (Nuns/Sisters and Friars/Monks) take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience to their Superior/Abbott.

How were monks different from friars?

First of all, friars are still different from monks as they both still exist in the Church. Monks take three vows of Obedience, Stability, and conversatio morum, a Latin term meaning fidelity to the monastic life (which includes Chastity and Poverty). Stability means remaining in one monastery for your entire life. Friars are mendicants, they are not vowed to one monastery, their vows are Chastity, Poverty, and Obedience, which are the three evangelical virtues that Our Blessed Lord preached to those who would be perfect. THe monks primary occupation is to pray and to be perfect, the friars primary duty is to live the evangelical counsels in the world and whatever the particular charism of their Order is, for instance, the Dominicans charism is preaching.

What vows did monks take during the middle ages?

Monks took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. There is a link below to the section on early Christianity of an article on Christian monasticism.

What were the three promises that the monks had to make?

Roman Catholic AnswerMonks, in the Benedictine and related traditions take three vows: Obedience conversio morum (roughly "conversion of manners" a synonym for "common life" or "monasticity") and stability. Other religious, NOT monks, take the three evangelical councils of poverty, chastity, and obedience as their three vows. Monks' vows contain the chastity and poverty in the conversio morum. These are the same three vows that monks have taken since the seventh century and still take today.

How did monks and Friars differ?

Monks lived in secluded communities and focused on contemplation and prayer, following a strict routine set by the rule of their order, while friars were itinerant preachers who traveled and worked in the community, focusing on helping the poor and spreading the teachings of the church. Monks typically lived in monasteries and owned communal property, while friars lived in friaries and took vows of poverty.

When does a priest take his vows what is the ceremony called?

There is no such ceremony for priests. Priests, as such, do not take "vows", they make a promise of obedience to their bishop at their ordination and the obligation to celibacy is imposed by Canon Law. The only ones who take vows, as such are solemnly professed religious, such as monks and nuns who make solemn vows of stability, converso morum, and obedience at their solemn profession. Friars, brothers, and sisters usually make perpetual promises or simple vows of poverty, chastity and obedience at their profession.

What is a similarity between a friar and monks?

Roman Catholic answer: The similarity is that they are both religious (in the Catholic church this is a technical term to differentiate from lay). They have dedicated their lives to God, and are both under vows or promises. Most friar take the three vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Most monks take three vows of stability, conversion of manners and obedience. Monks are usually bound to a particular monastery, whereas friars are bound to an Order or group of religious. Both of them are single celibates, both of them pray regularly as provided by their Holy Rule and both of them have a distinctive habit.

What is a monk's vow?

Benedictine monks and nuns (which includes Cistericians and Trappiests) take vows of stability, conversion of manners, and obedience, most other religious make vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

What vows did monks and nuns take?

to be obedient, pure, and to be chastity Different "orders" will and can have different vows. Most common will be an additional vow of poverty. Some orders will spend all of their time in prayer and contemplation.

What are characterics of nuns and monks in the renaissance?

Basically the same as they are today, monks and nuns are people who have dedicated their lives to praising God, they are bound to the three vows of Conversatio Morum, obedience and stability - as most monks and nuns are in the Benedictine tradition. If they are not Benedictine, for instance, Augustinians, they take the three vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Their day is spent in choir singing the Office, and they usually have some work to support themselves.