The new friary that I moved into last week is not what you might call a miracle of good housekeeping. In fact, it's a bit dirty and somewhat infested.
Yesterday I spent the morning cleaning out the pantry, washing all of the canned goods free of mouse droppings and throwing out dry goods that had already been through the nocturnal sampling of our little furry friends. This morning I am washing all of the cleaning rags and dish towels, some of which the mice had already used for their little toilet.
After morning prayer today my first duty was the dispatching of two little mice, lured to their mortal crippling by their interest in a bit of chocolate chip cookie. Some Franciscan I am!
This house desperately needs a cat, and there is a perfectly good stray cat who hangs around outside. He's moderately friendly, seems domesticated, and looks like he could use a bath and a snack. I'd like to invite him in for our mutual interest in getting rid of the mice, but it's been my experience that pets don't do well in houses of men religious. We travel too much, and the poor creatures usually go mad or at least become nervous wrecks in their inability to comprehend why some of the brothers love them and others don't.
St. Francis was once reported to have responded this way to a brother who wanted the friars to have their own house to live in: "When we have a house, we will need weapons to protect it." Francis understood the violence inherent in the idea of appropriating the goods of the world to oneself. That's why we Franciscans profess not poverty, but to live sine proprio, without appropriation, without anything of our own, without self-appropriation.
Today I feel like paraphrasing Francis and saying that when we have a house, we will have to kill the little creatures who come to sample our cereal.