04 Apr Catholic Minimalism: Count Your Blessings, Not Your Knick Knacks
It’s Tuesday morning and I’m driving to the store with my toddler in the backseat. I only have one item on my shopping list. Today I am determined to make a dramatic change in my life. I woke up with a new energy to clean my home before my next baby is born in a month!
I am going to buy plastic totes so I can store all my extra ‘stuff’ in my attic.
As soon as I returned home I dove into a few articles on minimalism and how I can apply it to my life, and much to my disappointment, my recent purchase was a horrible idea!
To really make room for a new baby, an ultimately for more of Christ in my life, I have to get all this extra stuff out of my home, and not just hidden away in plastic totes and boxes with nice labels.
The Pursuit of Possessions
We live in an extremely consumerist culture. There is a constant drive to purchase the nicest and newest gadgets, to drive the fanciest car, to wear the latest fashion. In this pursuit of possessions, we allow things to control us.
Our garages are overflowing with things we rarely use, our clothes are stuffed into drawers that barley close and our homes are filled with neglected and unappreciated toys.
How did we fall into this trap of consumerism? How much stuff do we really need?
I have 15 coffee mugs in my kitchen cabinet. I have only once hosted that many people in my home and that night only two of us drank coffee.
I have an assortment of herbal teas I’ll never drink, enough towels to run my own hotel, and shoes from college that I haven’t worn in 5 years. And that is merely the beginning.
This needs to stop.
All this extra stuff is making me clean more, organize more, spend more and enjoy what I have less. The more I started reading about minimalism, the more it made sense to me. And once I started relating it to Catholicism, I was sold!
Why Minimalism is Catholic
How many possessions did Our Blessed Mother have? And St. Francis? And Mother Teresa? Most likely just a small suitcase full. And they were some of the happiest, most joyful people on Earth.
We aren’t all called to a vow of poverty, but anyone of us can admit that after a good honest look at our lifestyles; we own too much. Are we too attached to these items? Shouldn’t we live a bit more sacrificially?
If Jesus asked us, like He did the rich young man in Matthew 19, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” will we be able to say yes? Or will we go away grieving, because we are too attached to our earthly treasures.
I should not put my old things, that I may use once in the next four years, in the attic. These items can be used today by someone else who really needs them. And as a sacrifice, I should include things I do love in the donation box too. Everything I own is not truly mine, it has all been given to me by the grace of God. Why am I so selfish and fearful holding on to these possessions?
Our pleasure should not come from things, but rather from sharing a meal with family and friends, or enjoying the beautiful gift of nature or delighting in the laughter of our children. Things should never rank higher than our friends or family.
How much time do we spend on our possessions? First making money to buy it, then using it, washing it, cleaning around it, organizing it, repairing it and buying a bigger house to make room for it. Shouldn’t we focus all that energy and time on people, instead of things?
I want to make a change in my life. I want to be able to let go of these extra things in my life that do not bring me closer to Christ, but merely take up my time. These are precious moments I could instead invest in my marriage, my daughter and my relationship with others.
So I’ll return the plastic totes and instead, donate the things I wanted to store in the attic.
Alright, enough of the preaching, want some practical tips on how to get started on embracing a bit of minimalism in your life?