“Be as simple as doves” – Matthew 10:16
When I was sitting behind my vendor table at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Homeschool Conference this past June, an elderly gentleman came up to me and asked, “So how did Project Nazareth come about? Tell me everything I need to know about voluntary simplicity.” I was taken aback by this question since most people stop by my table to ask about tips on simplifying, or ask about Project Nazareth’s mission, or just browse at my books on display.
No one has ever asked me such a loaded question before.
Part of the reason I was not prepared to answer is because our family’s journey towards voluntary simplicity is simply that: a journey. We are still learning and we have yet to arrive at our destination. What I do know is that our ultimate goal is not voluntary simplicity.
Our ultimate goal is Heaven. Our family just felt called to love our God in Heaven by embracing a life of simplicity here on earth. We strive to live simply as a means, not as an end, in a world where we are constantly being told that wealth and earthly possessions mark the true measure of a man.
While I promise to write more articles in the future about the logistics of simplification, such as decluttering and organizing, it is important to understand simplicity on an internal and spiritual level before we can truly simplify our external environment.
Lessons from Scripture and Saints
So what do Sacred Scripture and the Saints teach us about simplicity? How does simple living benefit our lives and our souls?
1) Simple living brings about true freedom of spirit. This freedom of spirit helps us to focus more on our relationship with God and others. Saint Teresa of Avila writes, “In this holy abandonment springs up that beautiful freedom of spirit which the perfect possess, and in which there is found all the happiness that can be desired in this life; for in fearing nothing and seeking and desiring nothing of the things of the world, they possess all.”
In his letter to the Corinthians, Saint Paul writes, “But I fear lest, as the serpent seduced Eve by his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted and fall from the simplicity that is in Christ.”
2) Simple living brings about true joy. It teaches us that earthly possessions will never truly satisfy us and should never be seen as a veritable source of lasting joy. In First Chronicles, it is written, “I know my God that Thou provest hearts and lovest simplicity, wherefore, I also in the simplicity of my heart, have joyfully offered all these things.”
In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he writes, “That in much experience of tribulation, they have had abundance of joy and their very deep poverty hath abounded in the riches of their simplicity.” St. Therese of the Child Jesus also writes, “I know well that joy is not in the things that surround us; it dwells in the innermost soul.”
3) Simple living leads us closer to our God. We must remember that there should be a deep connection between our ritual of simplifying and our relationship with God Himself. Saint Francis De Sales writes, “Simplicity is nothing but an act of charity pure and simple which has but one sole end – that of gaining the love of God.
Our soul then is truly simple when we have no aim at all but this, in all we do.” Saint Vincent De Paul also writes, “Simplicity ought to be held in great esteem…it is a virtue most worthy of love, because it leads us straight to the Kingdom of Heaven.”
So how does all this translate to us today? Below are eight principles that our family has learned (and is still learning) in this sometimes difficult but often rewarding journey. The principles below focus on both the practical and the spiritual, and the beauty of it all is that there are no set rules or regulations when it comes to voluntary simplicity.
Voluntary simplicity is partly a lifestyle and a mindset, but mostly a disposition of the heart and soul.
The Path to Simplicity
Here then is a glance at the Eight Principles of The Simple Life that I will be writing about in the next several months:
S – Stewardship of Treasure
I – In God We Trust
M – Moderate Consumption
P – Poverty Awareness
L – Less Is More
I – Instilling A Spirit of Gratitude
F – Focusing On Relationships
Y – Yearning For Heaven
In living out these principles, you will soon discover a deeper love for God and others by practicing wise stewardship, trust, surrender, temperance, generosity, holy detachment, gratitude, contentment, true order and, most importantly, a desire to prepare for a holy death.
Like a dove flying freely towards the heavens, simple living brings about true freedom of spirit, gives us lasting joy and leads us closer to the Heavenly Kingdom. Come join me in this beautiful journey and you will soon discover how rich you truly are!
Are you ready to SIMPLIFY?