Simplify Your Life This New Year!
If we had any possessions we should be forced to have arms to protect them, since possessions are a cause of disputes and strife, and in many ways we should be hindered from loving God and our neighbor. Therefore, in this life, we wish to have no temporal possessions. – St. Francis of Assisi
Simplify to Enrich Your Life!
Simplicity is a spiritual practice that can greatly challenge our way of life and greatly enrich our way of life. St. Francis and his followers saw the discipline of simplicity as a garden from which all other spiritual virtues grow. They saw it as an important prerequisite to our being both fully human and fully spiritual. Francis saw wealth and our attachment to possessions as something that enslaves our souls and hinders communion and union with God.
Jesus, at His Sermon on the Mount said: “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important that food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them… And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do no labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”
Hopefully, with Faith, we can take Jesus at His word. This doesn’t mean, get rid of every stitch of clothing you own… that would be very impractical. It means… don’t be so concerned. Do you really need 20 pairs of shoes? How about 2 or 3?
Distinguish Between Your Wants and Needs
How do we decide what we really need and what we want? Not all wants are bad… we are spiritual creatures who desire beauty and joy and other intangibles to thrive. What is bad is excessive wants and excessive indulgences.
Here is a simple formula: Food is a need. Specific types of foods cooked specific ways are wants… especially when we become attached to a “certain food” and must have them on a regular basis. Try to remember that food is fuel. Then when you have an occasion of a special meal or special food you will appreciate it all the more.
Clothing is a need, however, designer clothing and only wearing specific brands is a want. Clothing is to provide covering and warmth… not to make a statement (unless it’s one of simplicity or modesty).
The book of Sirach speaks on moderation: Moderate eating ensures sound slumber and a clear mind next day on rising… In whatever you do, be moderate, and no sickness will befall you.
One way of simplifying your eating may be to Fast one day per week. Jesus fasted. St. Francis fasted and many of the other Saints fasted. There are many physical as well as Spiritual benefits to fasting. Also, food tastes better when we eat it in moderation. Fasting on bread and water helps one to empathize with the hunger of the poor, and it enhances the power of the mind.
Simplify your wardrobe with moderation. Focus on having a few basic outfits that can be modified, instead of having a “crammed full closet” of expensive and hardly worn clothes. If you don’t wear them… give them to the poor! Store up your treasure in heaven. Storing clothes for some future event doesn’t work… they disintegrate!
“One goes more quickly to heaven from a hut than from a palace.” – St. Francis of Assisi
If You Really Love Something… Give It Away!
If you have a favorite item that you have become very attached to… give it away. You will feel such freedom! It is never a good idea to become attached to things. We want to be dependent on God alone. If you can’t take it to Heaven… it’s probably something you don’t really need.
The practice of simplicity is not easy or simple. It is hard to give up things… things you want, things that are sentimental, and things that make your life easier… but the reward will be spiritual closeness to God and freedom.
God’s Pruning Shear
“Simplicity is God’s pruning shear, which cuts back the tangled branches of our lives, enabling us to begin living freely, sharing generously, and loving deeply.” – John Michael Talbot
Pray about simplifying your life. Ask God to show you ways to simplify.
John Michael Talbot suggests the following prayer: “God, give me new eyes to see my life as you see it. And give me a new heart to sense the difference between my wants and my needs. Give me compassion for the suffering of the world and a willingness to help those who are hurting. Amen.”
“The Lessons of St. Francis” by John Michael Talbot inspired this article and can give you more ideas on “How to Bring Simplicity and Spirituality into Your Daily Life”.
Have a Blessed New Year! Remember to Simplify and to Pray More!
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