Tuesday, October 11, 2011


In several chapters of Benedict’s Rule, he addresses simplicity of life—living frugally and with due attention to others’ needs as well as our own. Most likely Benedict never knew or used the word so prominent now: sustainability. But clearly he did adhere to its principles, including being satisfied with “enough” and using the goods of this world with moderation. Benedict refers to such practices as being content with what is given, not being hoarders, using tools and other goods with reverence, etc. Surely he meant his followers to handle with care what was available and around them. (Even borrowed garments were to be washed upon return from a trip and then stored away for future use!)

Early October has the feasts of two much-beloved saints whose lives give witness to the desire and capacity for simplicity of life: St. Therese of Lisieux (Oct. 1) and St. Francis of Assisi (Oct. 4). Both expressed and exhibited a willingness to live simply, content with what they were given or allowed. Both are wondrous examples of living a rich interior life satisfied with a certain “enoughness.” Neither lived in dire poverty, nor is that what the Gospel teaches. We are to have what we need and anything beyond that is to be received with gratitude and without undue attachment. Living simply—avoiding excess—seems essential for sustainability over the long haul. Sister Carol Berg

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