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Simplicity and Gratitude: A New Year’s Resolution to keep

January 7, 2014
Pope Francis kisses figurine of baby Jesus as he leaves Mass on feast of Epiphany at Vatican
I've been contemplating what my New Year’s resolution should be. I couldn't settle on which direction I should go so I went to Pinterest for inspiration. Luckily for me, Pope Francis is the most popular guy on the internet so he reached out to this wayward creature (and provided some much needed redirection) through a friend’s post. The post featured New Year’s resolutions inspired by Pope Francis. Its a great article as there's solid advice in there. In particular suggestions #2 "finish your meals" and #4 “choose the more humble purchase”. It’s not that I don’t already know that living simply is the better way rather its that Pope Francis has shown me how living simply will make me a kinder, gentler, and more loving person – a person filled to the brim with joy! In this way, Pope Francis' example encourages everyone to make room for God in their lives.  And when I think about what I want out of life, well, the truth is, I want to be a person who has made a home in her heart for the Lord... I just forgot what my priorities were there, for a second.
The other person who inspires me is Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk who recently gave a great TED Talk on the connection between happiness and gratefulness.  In the talk he spoke about how gratefulness creates happiness - not the other way round. He says that grateful people are joyful people!  So, yes, its important to petition God for everything that we need as it keeps us honest ( after all without him we are lost!) but it’s just as important to remember that we are blessed and there is a lot to be grateful for. For example, this morning I woke up in good health, in a bed with a roof over my head, enjoyed a shower, and ate a good, nutritious breakfast. Already in the first hour of my day I enjoyed what the majority of the world won't. In a culture of superabundance like ours, it’s all too easy to take for granted good health, running water, electricity, shelter, food and employment. Brother David Steindl-Rast explains that taking the time to be grateful will help us to be a lot happier. In other words, being ungrateful is to miss the opportunity to be truly happy!
What do I take away from this? Well, let's put it like this, a wise Franciscan friar once told me, "God is never outdone in generosity!" so I'm going to praise the Lord generously, thanking him for all of my blessings and no doubt my life will be filled with joy!
So this year I resolve to think of ten things that I am grateful for each day, to finish my meals, and to live frugally in the Spirit of St. Francis as our beloved Pope Francis does each day.
St. Francis, pray for us!
CNS photo: Pope Francis kisses figurine of baby Jesus as he leaves Mass on feast of Epiphany at Vatican
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