Monday, August 10, 2009

Simplicity - The Lessons of St. Francis by John Michael Talbot

St. Francis of Assisi is best known for the prayer:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

Grant that I may no so much seek to be consoled as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

There is much more to St. Francis than this prayer, however. I have been reading The Lessons of St. Francis by John Michael Talbot with Steve Rabey. I highly recommend the book as a “wake-up call” for modern Christians. Many of us are hungering for spirituality and longing for a simpler and more satisfying life. Many have become so dependent upon our possessions that our possessions now own us. As economic times have become hard, we lack the resources and the mindset to deal with a life in which gaining more possessions and taking care of those we have does not dominate our lives and time. Our “wanters” have grown so out of control they are stunting the growth of the fruit-bearing part of the tree of our lives. Those wild, overgrown branches need to be pruned. The first two chapters of this book deal with St. Francis’s emphasis on simplicity and focusing of spirituality instead of materialism.

A few quotes:

The love of money is the root of all evil. ___St. Paul

Like the branches of an unpruned tree, our attachment to possessions and wealth often chokes our lives, enslaves our souls, and hinders both human community and union with God. ___John Michael Talbot

Less is more. ____Robert Browning

Live simply so that others may simply live. _____Gandhi

Manifest plainness, embrace simplicity, reduce selfishness, have few desires. ___Lao Tzu

There is so much more that can be said, but simplifying life (having fewer clothes, smaller homes, plainer food) is a good place to start focusing our lives on relationships instead of possessions. In the process, we will spend less and have more.

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