Last spring, I found myself back in the United States after a summer spent chaperoning a trip to Poland for World Youth Day, immediately followed by a crazy fall semester studying abroad in Italy. I realized mid-February that for about six or seven months, I hadn’t spent more than three weeks in the same bed. I was constantly on the move, experiencing new things, meeting new people, and living as a local in a foreign country.
Yet through the craziness and busy-iness, and all the moving around, the only word I can use to describe my experience is SIMPLE.
You see posts everywhere about simplicity: “10 Ways to Simplify Your Life," “Simplify Your Home," or “Simplify Your Schedule," the list goes on…everyone seems to be trying to simplify everything. All these posts and articles seem to point to one thing: that simplicity means having everything in place. Everything is perfect, there’s no messy-ness, no clutter, no mess-ups.
But what I learned last year is a different aspect of the simple life: simple life in Christ. Don’t get me wrong, Christ is awesome and mighty and SO BIG we can’t even wrap our brains around Him. Yet, life with Him is simple because as a friend of mine pointed out to me, He is CONSTANT. It’s not that He takes away the messy-ness of our lives, but instead He orders it by becoming a priority in our lives…and then everything else falls into place.
When I look back on the crazy school year I just experienced, I realize there was only One thing, One Person who was the same, no matter what country I was in, or what language I was hearing out loud at Mass. Through all the movement and change, He was Constant, and because He was, life was simple.
When I came home for the spring semester, I realized I needed something radical to make me understand this truth and luckily Christ sent me a bunch of beautiful friends, some old, some very new, who challenged me to radically strive for sanctity through simplicity.
These men and women and I gave up almost as many pleasures as you can think of for 90 days (snacking, sweets, unnecessary shopping, drinking, overeating, social media, TV, secular music, etc.) and dedicated much of our days to times in prayer, not because we are great saints, but because we desire to be and we needed a re-ordering of our lives to set us back on track. It was hard, it was messy, it was time-consuming, overwhelming and sometimes stressful to accomplish everything in one day, and yet, it was simple.
Yes, life was simple because so many distractions were taken away, but it was especially simple because we replaced those distractions with Christ. I guess what I’ve learned most of all is when you put Christ at the upmost center of your life, you’ll want to simplify everything else because all of a sudden nothing else matters except following Him.
When Christ became the center of our lives, life became more beautiful. Our friendships became more beautiful; our ability to live as true women of Christ became more beautiful. I think of Our Lady, and how since Christ was the absolute center of her life, she was able to be authentically feminine because her life was in order. In the same way, we were able to order our priorities and truly live our feminine geniuses because we were simply ourselves: young women striving for holiness.
Radically striving for sanctity is possible for all of us, we just have to jump in and trust the Lord will bring us the means, the support, the strength, and the joy to do so