As we wait expectantly and prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ this Saturday, we come to the end of our reflections on Aguchita in light of Pope Francis' encyclical letter Laudato Si': On Care for our Common Home. Over seven weeks, the weaving of Aguchita's life into Francis' words has enlightened, challenged, and inspired us. This week, we shall reflect on the encyclical's Chapter Six: 'Ecological Education and Spirituality'.
In this final chapter, Francis turns directly to our own particular lifestyles, attitudes, and convictions. In the fourth part of the chapter, entitled 'Joy and Peace', Francis challenges us that rather than acting as unconscious consumers, often riddled with a feeling of emptiness and anxiety, we instead adopt a lifestyle that conveys greater moderation and inner peace, and ultimately more joy and fulfilment. On joy and peace, he writes:
We need to take up an ancient lesson, found in different religious traditions and also in the Bible. It is the conviction that "less is more". A constant flood of new consumer goods can baffle the heart and prevent us from cherishing each thing and each moment… Those who enjoy more and live better each moment are those who have given up dipping here and there, always on the look-out for what they do not have. They experience what it means to appreciate each person and each thing, learning familiarity with the simplest things and how to enjoy them… No one can cultivate a sober and satisfying life without being at peace with him or herself… Inner peace is closely related to care for ecology and for the common good.
Aguchita imbued this biblical mantra of "less is more" and was consequently – and evidently – a more joyful person, at peace with herself and with others. At Christmas, she taught the girls how to make panettone at the Reina de la Paz Home. Rosa, one of her former students, recalled how Aguchita "took the opportunity to teach us. The panettone would turn out like stone, and she would cry out, 'Dear Lord! What do they look like!' but nonetheless, she always tasted them". When they were ready, the girls wrapped them in cellophane and decorated them with a bow. This way, "we didn't need to buy panettone from the store, and we had a Christmas gift that we could take home with us".
Aguchita was not an unconscious consumer. She found joy and peace in the way she cherished each person, thing, and moment. As you prepare for Christmas, how can you respond to Francis's challenge to transform your lifestyle, attitude, and convictions to achieve a more joyful and peaceful presence by adopting the approach "less is more"?