On the Mantel in February: Simplicity

I've had several notes asking about our mantel letters and I do apologize for being so slow to answer. Time to compose posts seems elusive these days.

A couple of years ago, I found some wooden letters at a craft store in May and painted them blue. I spelled "Full of Grace" and set them up on a table with some Marian items. I loved the way it look and the mood it brought into the room. In December, I borrowed Cheryl's idea and propped the word "Prepare" on the mantel. Then, when Lent rolled around, I switched out some of the letters and I spelled "Repent." It was only natural that year when we went to "hide our Alleluia" that the "Alleluia" be letters for the mantel during the Easter season. One thing led to another and, with a friend, I brainstormed a virtue for every month of the year and set about collecting sets of letters (and if I stop to link to them all, this post will never be published;-).The letters on the mantel remind us all to strive for virtue.
This month is all about simplicity.


I've written before about how "not simple" my life is. I think there is a common notion that simplicity strips things bare--that it requires us all to live lives devoid of the richness and textured complexity our Lord offers us. I don't see it that way. I see simplicity being the clearest expression of faith. I think that simplicity and authenticity are intertwined. When we are being the person we were created to be--when we are authentic--we relate to God and to one another with simple charity.That's simplicity.

When we embrace simplicity, we are content. We know that sometimes we might have the resources to cook an elaborate meal and sometimes, we cook with few ingredients. Both can represent simplicity of heart.It's not the complexity of the meal that matters; it's the disposition of the cook while she prepares the meal. We can practice the virtue of simplicity in times of fasting and of feasting. There will be seasons in our lives when lessons are short and simple and we might even just need to follow the directions of another. And there may be seasons when lessons are a grand adventure, carefully planned and executed over time. What matters is that we do whatever He tells us. It's about seeking and doing God's will, without excessive intellectual wrangling, dissertations and discussions.Don't think it to death. St. Paul writes, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.I can do everything through him who gives me strength." It's not complicated. It's simple.


However, often, we think things to death; we complicate ourselves.We twist in the wind and reinvent ourselves again and again, complicating our spiritual lives and muddling our relationships.Simplicity isn't a decorating style, a cooking style, a clothing style. When we seek to cultivate the virtue of simplicity, we seek simplicity of heart. And simplicity of faith. It's not restless searching and seeking. It's resting in Him and reflecting His pure [and simple] love. It doesn't matter much what I wear or how I cook or what my  home management style is if I am not close 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. Francis de Sales