Taken from http://infantkingoffering.org/
Holy Simplicity — How to Solve the Needless Complications of Life
Life is complicated. Whether you are filing your taxes, filling out a job application, or going to a family reunion, life is complicated. However, many times we complicate situations needlessly. How many times we allow ourselves to become complicated, only to make matters worse. To find peace of soul in a complicated world, we need that holy virtue so dear to St. Francis de Sales, patron of the Institute. We need the virtue of holy simplicity.
Holiness through the “little virtues”
St. Francis de Sales emphasizes that holiness is to be found in what he calls the “little virtues.” These virtues are well within our reach to practice every day such as charity, gentleness, humility, patience, as well as simplicity. Of these little virtues, simplicity might be the one that we don’t understand so well. For this reason, simplicity is perhaps overlooked, but it is so very important for the complicated world in which we live.
Christ the Infant King: Model of Simplicity
For St. Francis de Sales, simplicity begins with the Infant Child in Bethlehem. God comes to us in the most simple, unpretentious manner possible. God becomes man as a
little Child born in a stable. God lives as a young boy under the direction of a mother and a father in a workshop. Through His Childhood, Jesus is teaching us an admirable lesson in simplicity.
Simplicity: Honest Transparency Resulting from Love of God
Just as children think, speak, and act sincerely and openly, without any evil intent, so should we adults speak and act in a straightforward, simple manner. To be simple is really to be transparent like a glass window which lets in the light. This simple transparency means that in our words and actions, there is no pretense, no show, no acting out a role to impress others. People with the virtue of simplicity are clear and truthful. Their relationships are honest and solid. There is no secret agenda or self-interest, no hidden intentions. Simple people are never two-faced; but they are sincere and straight, with nothing to hide.
St. Francis de Sales said, “Be who you are, and be it well.” There is no need to add any frills. Simple people are noted for treating others in a thoughtful way. They rejoice in their neighbor’s achievements. They spontaneously praise others for their qualities, without exaggerating. They do not need to be the center of attention, but they are content with the things they have without needing to compare themselves to others or to feel superior to them. Simple people know how to forgive others, because they have the simplicity to acknowledge their own faults and to ask for forgiveness themselves.
Ultimately, simplicity is really a form of love. It’s love which forgets self-interest, love which does not care what the crowd might say. Simplicity is love which has only God for its aim and purpose. Be who you are, but be it well, and be it, for God alone.
Simplicity in Conversation: Tactful Charity
St. Francis de Sales often promoted simplicity in conversation. Simplicity does not mean that we must be straightforward to the point of being abrupt or blunt. Neither should we say immediately the first thing that comes to mind. Rather, simplicity is founded upon charity. Charity excludes flattery and deceit, as well as thoughtless insensitivity. So also, simplicity involves tact and consideration so that we can find just the right word and tone while speaking to someone in distress.
Holy Simplicity is not Simplistic
Now, the virtue of simplicity is not simplistic. Far from denying that reality is complex and full of distinctions, simplicity gives us the insight to understand clearly what seems at first difficult. For example, if you read the works of St. Thomas Aquinas, another patron of the Institute, you will see that to explain profound truths, he is making distinctions and nuances all the time. However, his writing style is simple and straightforward without being pedantic or overly sophisticated. Not one word of his explanation is superfluous. He leads you along to understand what seems complex in a simple, orderly way. He does not lead you to himself, but he leads you to the truth… to the truth which is God. That’s why St. Thomas is a genius of straightforward simplicity.
Perfectionism: Enemy of Simplicity
In people of good will, the great enemy of simplicity is perfectionism. Perfectionists always want everything to be just right. Thus they spend enormous amounts of time and energy on one small detail. They lack the simplicity to be content with doing the best they can according to the circumstances. People who lack simplicity will never do much of anything because the complications of life will bog them down. They must learn to let go of all that is not of God.
They must look a little more at Christ the Infant King who loves them and a little less at themselves in their own spiritual mirror, sacrificing their desire for spiritual self-satisfaction in order to allow their thoughts and actions to be focused on God and His Will for them. Learning to accept their own human limits while entrusting to God all of their actions and endeavors is a marvelous practice in the virtue of holy simplicity: “Jesus, I trust in You.”
Practical Advice to Holy Simplicity
Realize that God alone really matters. This earth is not our home, but we are merely passing through on our way to Heaven, our true and lasting home. Thus everything of this world, such as material goods, the opinions of others, and even our own sense of self-satisfaction, is all nothing in comparison to the good God. God alone matters, and something only has importance inasmuch as it relates to God and our loving service to Him.
Learn to rely upon God in that little prayer, “Jesus I trust in You.” Do not be overly fearful. Trust in God and do your best according to the order of priority in your life. His grace will correct you when you need it. He will never allow anything to happen to you unless it can in some way be a helpful lesson for you. “Jesus, I trust in You.”
Simplicity is contrary to that anxious care of ourselves. Simple people do not second-guess themselves. They avoid the trap of self-analysis which results in scrupulosity.
Do not worry about tomorrow. But, with confidence, have the best intention to please God today, “Jesus, I trust in You.”
Simple people do not shy away from asking for advice. So, have the good sense to seek out counsel to your questions. You will most often be rewarded for your humility with helpful answers.
Conclusion: Little Virtue of Simplicity Will Carry You a Long Way
Yes, Life is complicated. However, you can learn to live it in an uncomplicated manner with the virtue of simplicity. “Be who you are, but be it well, and be it for God alone.” If you read the writings of St. Francis de Sales and if you pray for his intercession, he will teach you how the little virtue of simplicity can carry you a very long way. From the stable of Bethlehem, the virtue of simplicity will guide the ship of your soul away from the dangerous waters of self-intent, and protect you from the reefs of perfectionist complications and simplistic sophistries, so that, with the humility of deference to your neighbor, with the charity of tactful but candid speech, and with confident trust in the grace of God, you will arrive safe and sound in that blessed harbor of Heaven.