The discipline of simplicity is not the most pleasant of spiritual disciplines, but it remains one of the most important. We so easily allow our lives to be defined by possessions, status, and all manner of social expectations. Being a disciple means shedding ourselves of anything that blurs our vision of Christ. No person better illustrates this than Francis of Assisi.
His father was a wealthy Italian cloth merchant, Pietro de Bernardone, who had extensive land holdings around Assisi, and he taught the adolescent Francis the family business. But when Francis entered his early twenties, he began to think his life was becoming too complicated, too concerned with status and wealth.
One day Francis impulsively took fine fabric from the family shop, rode to market, and sold it. Then he sold the family horse he'd been riding. And then — this is what infuriated Pietro — Francis gave away the proceeds to the poor!
If this wasn't bad enough, a month later, Pietro discovered Francis walking ...1