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Speaking Out: Making do with less is good for the soul

By  JACOB STOCKING, Youth Speak News
  • June 2, 2021

Although spirituality is at the core of religion, physical objects are inherent to its history and current functioning. 

In Luke 12:33, Jesus tells His followers  to “sell your possessions and give to the poor.” St. Francis of Assisi answered this call from Jesus most emphatically. In giving all his material holdings to the impoverished, he allowed himself to live a simple life in service of God rather than the pursuit of wealth. His case is certainly extreme. We do not, of course, have to donate everything we own to a thrift store and subsist on bread and water.

Even the most blatant material objects can be useful in the right hands. Consider an iPhone. With upgrades coming out every year, the environmental waste and financial hardship people create to acquire the latest model is excess at its worst. But the iPhone is also a tremendously powerful tool that can allow us to reach out to people to relay the teachings of Jesus.  

Today, there is a stark contrast between the simple lives led by followers of Jesus across history and the modern western lifestyle of decadent consumption.  

Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus of “The Minimalists” — who help people live life meaningfully with less — calculate that an average household contains 30,000 possessions. Such a staggering statistic highlights the insanity of secular materialism run rampant.  

As a remedy, Millburn and Nicodemus prescribe a simpler life involving only possessions that bring value. The definition of “value” in this context may vary from person to person, but it ultimately boils down to an object that creates happiness and energy rather than destroying it through maintenance requirements and buyer’s remorse. 

The benefits of minimalism are profound and numerous. Letting go of objects frees up space in our living areas while also freeing up time in our schedules. This is invaluable for creating peace of mind and spiritual health. The extra time may be spent in prayer with our Lord, in communion with our family or in service of the brothers and sisters in Christ that He has commanded us to love.

Essentially, less time spent on earthly possessions means more time focusing on the treasures of Heaven.  

So how can we realize these fantastic benefits for ourselves? Like any other lifestyle choice, minimalism is a habit. Start by slowing down. When a new line of clothes or the latest technology comes out, think about why you want it before reaching for your credit card. Go even further and commit to waiting 30 days before making the purchase. This may sound like a long time — and it is. But such a simple practice will help filter out most ephemeral objects and impulse purchases from your life. 

In His teaching of the beatitudes during the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth.”

Indeed, by humbling ourselves and eschewing materialistic habits we will possess more than we can ever comprehend.

(Stocking, 18, is a recent graduate of Michael Power-St. Joseph High School in Etobicoke, Ont.)

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