Father Dwight Longenecker gives us some more to think about concerning Franciscan-style intentional poverty -- contrasted with Benedictine-style "communal living."
A Benedictine monk takes three vows: obedience, stability, and conversion of life. He doesn’t take a vow of poverty. However, the Rule of St Benedict does forbid private ownership of any kind. A Benedictine monk does not take a vow of poverty, but he lives under a rule of no personal possessions. The monastery owns stuff. In fact, a monastery could be very wealthy. However, it is all owned in common, and each individual monk makes use of what is owned in common, but does not own it himself.
This is a radical attempt at communal living which commands personal poverty, but does not elevate being impoverished as if it were some sort of virtue simply to be poor.
St Francis, on the other hands, wanted to marry “Lady Poverty” and claimed that it was indeed a virtue to be poor. He was probably reacting to the Benedictine monks of the day who may not have technically owned anything individually, but who did live very well in their plush monasteries. The problem with Francis’ embrace of literal poverty is the reason he was suspected of heresy–if poverty is a virtue for its own sake, then by implication private ownership is evil and by further implication the heresy of Manicheanism is there–the belief that the material world is somehow tainted or evil. Francis corrected this by embracing the goodness of all things which could be best enjoyed by not owning them or grabbing them for oneself. His poverty was therefore an affirmation of all things rather than a rejection.
While the Benedictine approach does not embrace poverty as a virtue, it does hold hands with the Franciscan approach in it’s rejection of private and personal ownership. Both ways call for a radical rejection of private ownership in order to develop within the person a proper Christian detachment.
...The Christian is called to be detached from material things in order to be properly attached to all things. The poet Thomas Traherne says, “Can a man be just unless he loves all things according to their worth.” Thus a Christian should be detached from all his belongings so that he can love them–and all things–according to their true worth.
More thoughts applying things like this to spiritual poverty?
And by the way, does this have anything to do with being "poor in spirit?"