The first step in renouncing ownership is the renunciation of physical things, of material goods and things. Here it should be said that the only way to truly renounce the ownership of all property and things is to join an Order itself; that within the Order there are the constructs, the supports and the unity that make true renunciation possible and even appropriate. The common ownership of all things and renunciation of personal ownership is the way of the world and a necessity of living in daily life and is one of the clearest symbols that distinguishes consecrated life. This reality, however, does not mean that we cannot, and should not adopt this disposition, that we take a goal of owning as little as is necessary and not needlessly burdensome to life and so pull our hearts away from the pitfalls and distractions of a consumer driven and materialistic society.
One may consider renting movies, rather than always buying them. Even if it may cost a little more to rent a movie a few times, you will gain more by not having so much clutter and by being free from owning so many things and give more attention to what you truly desire, rather than what happens to by laying around close at hand. The same can also be said for many larger tools or things that we may use only a few times each year, consider the possibility of renting, or whenever possible, joining with a group of friends, or neighbors to purchase one and then share. Have as few vehicles as your household truly needs. In large cities with good public transportation, it may be possible to not even own a vehicle, but wherever you may live, it may not be necessary that every person in the household owns their own vehicle. Similarly, every individual in a family may not need to own a computer, but there may be a family computer. When it comes to knick-knacks and collectibles, be attentive to what you buy and what real purpose things serve. For children, it may be helpful to set a limit on the number of toys that they have, so that as they acquire new toys, they may have to give up some of their older ones (this will likely change with their age). In all things, bear in mind that the goal is to own as little as is necessary, to be satisfied with possessing less and not make life unduly burdensome. Meet the needs of your position in life and your appropriate responsibilities to others. What is difficult to give up in the beginning becomes easier and as you continue down this path, you will find yourself wanting, and even needing, to own less and less.
The other aspect in the renunciation of ownership is the recognition of communal ownership. For families, there are things that are rightfully and need to be owned by parents, but there also should be a disposition in teaching the children too that everything which can be, practically speaking, owned in common, should be owned by the family. We can then extend the circle outward to things that are shared with friends and the neighborhood, always bearing in mind our position as good stewards and using common sense. The renunciation of ownership can also extend into the workplace, knowing our attitudes and dispositions toward things: this is no longer my stapler, my desk, my computer, etc. and encouraging others to also see common ownership and a common mission.
As we have said, this is the first step in the renunciation of ownership. You will find that as you go along this road, mimicking the life of Christ in this simple way, you will find yourself following in other ways; that by at first renouncing the ownership of material things you will no longer claim ownership over more valuable and unseen things, of your time, your job, your thoughts and opinions, and even over your very salvation.
Renunciation of ownership is a daily action, beginning with physical and material things, that we do not claim the exclusive ownership of things, and then extending into other things. We may begin to see that our job is not even our own; my time does not belong to me; nor even my thoughts and my opinions. Like the others, this vow is a disposition that we do not begin by living perfectly, but by adopting the disposition which grows and becomes more perfect and more complete the further that we advance in prayer and in our ability to love. At the end, we find that not even our salvation is our own; that it is an object to be attained or that I am even responsible for my own salvation. that as Christ stood before Pilot saying, “You would not have it, except that it has been given to you by my father,” and gave himself over to death. All that we have has first been given to us, not for our good in keeping and reserving personal ownership, but for the good that we may in turn give because it is in this giving that we come into greater and greater love; we become more like Christ and ever closer to that beautiful image of the One who Loved us.