“I’m well aware that people think of simplicity in general as truth or purity of intention: truth, because it sees that our thoughts conform to the words and other signs by which we express them; purity of intention, because it makes all our acts of virtue tend straight to God. However, when we think of simplicity as a particular virtue, properly so-called, it includes not only purity and truth, but also its characteristic of keeping from our words and actions all deceit, craftiness, and duplicity” (CCD XII, conference 201).
Vincent de Paul
- We have already written it in another reflection: “tell me what you lack… so that I may remember it to you” … Mr. Vincent insists on this and does not give in to remember it again and again to his missionaries. No doubt in his own conviction, but also because, in everyday life, he would see that this virtue did not just take root in those who had to practice it, as it says in the text “a particular virtue.”
- He would probably be asked more than once to “explain” or “expand” the reason for this “insistence.” The current text maybe is picking up some of his answers. I imagine Father Santibáñez asking Mr. Vincent: “Could you, Monsieur de Paul, extend what you understand by simplicity?” “Nothing simpler,” he would reply: “simplicity amounts to truth, to purity of intention, and to the absence of all deceit, craftiness, and duplicity in our words and deeds.”
- Not content with the answer, he unfolds the most significant features of each of the concepts. Thus, the truth, he tells us, makes our thinking “conform to the words and other signs by which we express them,” that is, it makes us consistent between what we say and what we do. In turn, purity of intention “makes our acts of virtue tend straight to God” and, with it, a missionary will walk towards the “what” of his Mission which is none other than his own perfection.
- One last reason, put forward in another moment, closes (to put it in some way) the great insistence on this virtue: “Everyone loves simple, candid people, who don’t use subtleties or tricks, who are straightforward and speak sincerely, with the result that whatever they say comes from their heart.” (CCD XII, conference 201)
Questions for dialogue:
- How do we live “sincerity” in our lives?
- What do I think about the expression “all my life struggling to be simple and, now that I am, nobody recognizes me”?
- Is there coherence between our “Community Projects” and “daily life”?
- How would we explain in a homily what is the virtue of simplicity?
- Does this virtue occupy a central place in our life?
Mitxel Olabuenaga, C.M.