Sunday, March 25, 2012

Simple Suggestion #116... Set an example

This Sunday morning I'm thinking about Francis, my favourite Saint, and how he liked to say, "Preach the gospel, and when necessary use words." It's a phrase I come back to again and again. Even though my maiden name translates to "preacher," I've never been particulary comfortable with preaching, or with preachy people. I much prefer the people who simply live as they believe and offer explanations when asked.
Living what you believe isn't easy. For example, I believe that Sunday worship with a community is important, probably because from when I was a week old, my parents took me to church every Sunday. It was part of life, not something discussed, just something done regularly. When I reached adulthood and realized that I could do other things besides attend church on a Sunday, I tried that for a while, and felt like something was missing. Yes, I could pray to God on my own, but it was too easy to forget about God when I didn't slot church into my schedule and meet regularly with other worshippers.

So now that we have our own family, we take our girls to church every Sunday, mostly without question, even though they know that their mom is struggling mightily with the hierarchy and its rules these days. As tempted as I am to quit Sunday worship and just be with God outside of all the dogmatic silliness that seems to have once again overtaken my church, which seems to be more worried about details than the basics of feeding the hungry and giving clothes to the naked, I keep attending. Friends tell me that I'm within my rights to be a conscientious objector and not go to Mass... and I'm sure God wouldn't hold that against me (though the Church would)... but if I truly believe in the importance of Christian community, and I do, how can I quit? If I do quit, I'm not showing my girls the importance of community by my actions... though I am always looking for ways to show them Christian community's value where it occurs outside of church, too.

The same goes with almost anything I believe in. If I believe that our planet is in trouble because of global climate variations (which are in the news a lot these days -- Winnipeg at 24 degrees Celcius (73 F) in March is unheard of!), how can I live as though I have no choice but to use fossil fuels as frivolously as possible? How can I purchase strawberries out of season? How can I pretend that the most important thing is having an updated kitchen? I can't. So I preach the gospel by trying to live as lightly as I can... as joyfully as I can.

And now I come to the real struggle... these moodlings. Lately, I've been feeling that they're pretty much counter to St. Francis' words about using words only when necessary. I'll admit it... I get pretty preachy here sometimes, even as I try to show examples of simple living and other worthwhile ideas. Maybe I'm not the best at preaching the gospel without using words... but then again, maybe it's impossible to go against the "preacher" name with which I was born. So I continue, hoping that some of these ideas will set examples to help you in your efforts to live simply, too... and that you will go out and set examples of your own!

P.S. Looking for more Simple Suggestions? Try here.


  1. Many thanks for this reflection. I am struggling myself as a believer in the church. I am finding it helpful to remember that the church is more than the hierarchy. I heard a wonderful preacher yesterday,and my husband and I were moved, strengthened and renewed afterwards. I think God still tries to touch us, even when the hierarchy thinks it can move us beyond God's reach.

  2. Yes, I know what you mean. God is touching me through a book I'm reading. I'll review it soon. I think it's one you would really like, as it's very challenging... but comforting at the same time.


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