Love of Simplicity

Simple

If there is any encouragement in Christ,
any solace in love,
any participation in the Spirit,
any compassion and mercy,
complete my joy by being of the same mind,
with the same love,
united in heart,
thinking one thing.

Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory;
rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves,
each looking out not for his own interests,
but everyone for those of others.

Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus,
Who, though He was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God something to be grasped at.

Rather, He emptied Himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in the likeness of men;
He was found to be of human estate,

Thus He humbled Himself,
becoming obedient to death,
even death on a cross.
-Philippians 2:1-8

God is simple.

“Among those who make profession of following the maxims of Christ, simplicity ought to be held in great esteem; for, among the wise of this world there is nothing more contemptible or despicable than this. Yet it is a virtue most worthy of love, because it leads us straight to the kingdom of God, and, at the same time, wins for us the affection of men; since one who is regarded as upright, sincere, and an enemy to tricks and fraud, is loved by all, even by those who only seek from morning till night to cheat and deceive others.” -St. V. de Paul.

“The office of simplicity is to make us go straight to God, without regard to human respect or our own interests. It leads us to tell things candidly, and just as they exist in our hearts. It leads us to act simply, without admixture of hypocrisy and artifice, and finally, keeps us at a distance from every kind of deceit and double-dealing.” -St. V. de Paul.

St. Francis de Sales, also, was full of respect and love for this virtue, as he once declared to a confidential friend, in these words: “I do not know what that poor virtue of prudence has done to me, that I find so much difficulty in loving it. And if I love it, it is only from necessity, inasmuch as it is the support and guiding light of this life. But the beauty of simplicity completely fascinates me. It is true that the Gospel recommends to us both the simplicity of the dove and the prudence of the serpent; but I would give a hundred serpents for one dove. I know that both are useful when they are united, but I think that it should be in the proportion observed in compounding some medicines, in which a little poison is mixed with a quantity of wholesome drugs. Let the world, then, be angry, let the prudence of the world rage, and the flesh perish; for it is always better to be good and simple, than to be subtle and malicious.”

“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 is then truly simple, when we have no aim at all but this, in all we do. -St. F. de Sales.

God loves the simple, and converses with them willingly, and communicates to them the understanding of His truths, because He disposes of these at his pleasure. He does not deal thus with lofty and subtle spirits.-St. F. de Sales.

“True simplicity is like that of children, who think, speak, and act candidly and without craftiness. They believe whatever is told them; they have no care or thought for themselves, especially when with their parents; they cling to them, without going to seek their own satisfactions and consolations, which they take in good faith, and enjoy with simplicity, without any curiosity about their causes and effects.” -St. F. de Sales

“Astuteness is nothing but a mass of artifices, inventions, craft, and deceit, by which we endeavor to mislead the minds of those with whom we are dealing, and make them believe that we have no knowledge or sentiment as to the matter in question, except what we manifest by our words. This is wholly contrary to simplicity, which requires our exterior to be perfectly in conformity with our interior.” -St. F. de Sales.

WYSIWIG – “What you see, is what you get!”

When Francis de Sales was told, by a friend, that he would have been successful in politics, “No,” he replied, “the mere name of prudence and policy frightens me, and I understand little or nothing about it. I do not know how to lie, to invent, or dissimulate, without embarrassment, and political business is wholly made up of these things. What I have in my heart, I have upon my tongue; and I hate duplicity like death, for I know how abominable it is to God.”

“When a simple soul is to act, it considers only what it is suitable to do or say, and then immediately begins the action, without losing time in thinking what others will do or say about it. And after doing what seemed right, it dismisses the subject; or if, perhaps, any thought of what others may say or do should arise, it instantly cuts short such reflections, for it has no other aim than to please God, and not creatures, except as the love of God requires it. Therefore, it cannot bear to be turned aside from its purpose of keeping close to God, and winning more and more of His love for itself.” -St. F. de Sales.

In the Catholic mind, simplicity refers to both our material possessions, both in quantity and type, maintaining only those things which are essential to life’s daily functions, given the age we live in and our particular circumstances;  also, it refers to manner, the way in which we present ourselves to and interact with all others in Christian love.  And, finally, particularly in this age, in terms of priorities and activity.  Where is prayer in our lives and our day?  Priorities.  Priorities.  Priorities.

NOBODY EVER said it would be easy. (Don’t you sometimes wish just somebody, no matter how foolish and mad, would/would have? Just so we could counter that maxim? 🙂 The discipline of simplicity is just critically necessary, for sanity’s sake, et al.  It is an invigorating discipline.  Discipline does not weaken, it strengthens.  Strength training for the journey.

Heb 12:12-13.  Christians NEED to be TUFF!!!!  TUFF LOVE!!!  “Yes, Sister!  Right away, Sister.”  Obedience to rightful, moral, just authority & acceptance of God’s will are forms of simplicity.  Simplicity of the will, in marriage and in faith.

Love,
Matthew

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