Pope Francis never ceases to make me think, to challenge me deeply.
In today’s Wednesday audience, he continued his catechesis on family but pivoted to a matter which seems to be at the heart of his papacy: caring for the poor. He taught:
Dear Brothers and Sisters: Today we consider one of the conditions which afflict too many families, namely, poverty. And yet, in the worst of circumstances, even in war torn areas, how often these families persevere with dignity, entrusting themselves to the goodness of God. It is a miracle that even in extreme situations families continue to be formed and sustained. Sadly, our modern economies often promote individual wellbeing at the expense of the family. As Christians, however, we must always look for ways to strengthen and support families, especially poorer ones. The Church, as a mother, can never be blind to the sufferings of her children. For each of us, this means choosing simplicity both individually and in our institutions, so as to break down walls of division and overcome all difficulties, especially poverty. A poorer Church will bear fruit for so many of her needy children. Let us pray for the grace of conversion so that Christian families everywhere will be truly committed to helping their poorer brothers and sisters.
There is a single sentence in this that gets to the heart of the matter for me:
For each of us, this means choosing simplicity both individually and in our institutions, so as to break down walls of division and overcome all difficulties, especially poverty.
I’ve had a sort of unusual past two months that has left me feeling disconnected from what is happening in the outside world around me. My heart and head have been focused on family matters and a book that I’m writing. When I’ve occasionally popped my head out of the gopher hole I’m living in, the noise of the world feels deafening and often filled with hate.
I ask myself ten times a day what I can do to make a difference. And too often I’m left answering, “I have no idea.”
Today, Pope Francis has handed me a love letter with his teaching. There IS something I can easily do:
I can choose simplicity.
And I can do so intentionally. I don’t have to make a big deal out of it. I don’t need to announce it or overthink it. I don’t need a system or a way to document it.
I just need to choose to be “simple” – to consume less, to spew less venom, to take the path of least complication toward the goal of helping the most I can.
It doesn’t have to be fancy.
My choice for simplicity just needs to be intentional, oriented towards a goal of being generous, and acted in love.
A question for you: How can you choose simplicity today?
Image credit: Pixabay, ArmyAmber, public domain