By Sister Regina Siegfried, ASC

Enough calendar days have turned that those New Year’s resolutions probably have passed along with them by now. What about that decision to simplify and declutter? What does that mean?  Living more simply is the work of the Spirit and of a lifetime.

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Most religious women try to live a simple life. However, what is simple for one might not be for another. While a simple lifestyle includes the use of material things, it reaches far more deeply than that. Possessions are necessary for ministry. Computers, cars, electronic devices, once undreamt of for personal use, are now common for most of us. But if we’re more wired to them than to our common vision of the mission, we might need to step back and examine that tie.

Getting to the essentials, to the heart of the matter, is part of a simple life. Letting material things take possession of our attitudes, hearts, and lives clutters our vision, clouds values, and derails the focus on the Gospel message of love, justice, mercy, equality, and compassion. We need to use the goods of human ingenuity and the grace of creation to spread the Gospel mission. When we stumble and falter in our impetus to mission because things are more important, we might have lost the vision of a simple lifestyle.

Most U.S. women religious are not poor in a material sense. We have more than enough; we’re some of the most educated women in our society. How we share what we have is key to simplicity of life. What we have isn’t really personally ours; it is meant to be shared, given away for the common good. We try to live with open hands and open hearts, reaching out to others who might need what we can give.

Key questions for me are: when is enough, enough? How can I share what I have with those who need it more than I do?