Return to Simplicity


a happy corner of our little garden

Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si has caused quite a stir inside the Church and outside as well, with a focus on the environment and other related subjects. Because I wanted to understand it properly and comment on it fairly, I decided to read the whole thing. In the process, many of my presuppositions were challenged, but overall I was very impressed by the pope’s knowledge and advice. He demonstrates how many subjects related to human life and stewardship of the earth are interconnected and interdependent. Pope Francis challenges Christians to remember the example of St. Francis of Assisi in the way we care for others and nature, and in the process we must back away from the consumerist culture and embrace the true joys of life. I really appreciated paragraphs 222 and 223 of Laudato Si:

“Christian spirituality proposes an alternative understanding of the quality of life, and encourages a prophetic and contemplative lifestyle, one capable of deep enjoyment free of the obsession with consumption. We need to take up an ancient lesson, found in different religious traditions and also in the Bible. It is the conviction that ‘less is more’. A constant flood of new consumer goods can baffle the heart and prevent us from cherishing each thing and each moment. To be serenely present to each reality, however small it may be, opens us to much greater horizons of understanding and personal fulfilment. Christian spirituality proposes a growth marked by moderation and the capacity to be happy with little. It is a return to that simplicity which allows us to stop and appreciate the small things, to be grateful for the opportunities which life affords us, to be spiritually detached from what we possess, and not to succumb to sadness for what we lack. This implies avoiding the dynamic of dominion and the mere accumulation of pleasures.

“Such sobriety, when lived freely and consciously, is liberating. It is not a lesser life or one lived with less intensity. On the contrary, it is a way of living life to the full. In reality, those who enjoy more and live better each moment are those who have given up dipping here and there, always on the look-out for what they do not have. They experience what it means to appreciate each person and each thing, learning familiarity with the simplest things and how to enjoy them. So they are able to shed unsatisfied needs, reducing their obsessiveness and weariness. Even living on little, they can live a lot, above all when they cultivate other pleasures and find satisfaction in fraternal encounters, in service, in developing their gifts, in music and art, in contact with nature, in prayer. Happiness means knowing how to limit some needs which only diminish us, and being open to the many different possibilities which life can offer.” –Papa Francesco

There is much that can be discussed regarding this encyclical, and I encourage everyone, especially Catholic Christians, to take the time to read it and allow yourselves to be challenged in a positive way. You can read or download Laudato Si here.

For a basic overview of Laudato Si, read this article.

God bless!

-Ben 6/27/15

4 Comments on “Return to Simplicity”

  1. Melissa says:

    I am looking forward to reading it, haven’t had a chance yet

  2. Thank for the post…I haven’t read it but I was rather surprised how the media didn’t go all Hippie Pope Francis on us, I wonder if they actually read it and realized it pro-life message. I think they are starting to wake up to the fact that the Pope is actually a Catholic. :-)…

  3. jimfinn2000 says:

    There are several replies to your comments on the Ben. You only made general comment comments Ben, you never answered a specific objection. Why not? I don’t see an e-mail address for you or a way to contact you other than this way.

    • Ben says:

      Hi Jim,

      People believe what they want to believe. They can’t be forced to see differently.

      It’s a lose/lose situation for me at your blog. If I explain a Scriptural concept at any depth, it would probably be labeled as “spin”, but I don’t want to over-simplify an explanation either. We can both sling verses at each other, but at the end of the day so much depends upon the lens through which we view the Bible, and that depends upon who we trust to authoritatively interpret Scripture. I don’t accept your teaching authority, and you don’t accept the Catholic Church’s teaching authority. That means that in order for there to be any progress, we would need to approach discussion with an honest willingness to understand the other person’s position, and I don’t get the impression at all that you have a willingness to understand what I’m saying. So… I at-least wanted to make sure that you and your readers have access to answers if you’re really interested. Rather than re-answering your questions about Catholic beliefs, I thought it would be helpful to point out where they’ve already been answered.

      Are you and Sage Brush interested in careful open-minded dialog? If so, I’m very willing to have discussions, but I’m not going to put forth the effort of explaining the Catholic position only to be ridiculed and essentially ignored.

      The points I made in my comments on your blog still stand. Answering the questions posed by you and Sage Brush afterwards has not yet seemed productive to me, but that doesn’t mean I won’t ever answer you. I appreciate you allowing people to comment on your blog. It’s part of what makes it more interesting than some other blogs that are restrictive, and I really do wish you well.

      God bless.