(11) Although we possess property and earn money to support ourselves and our families, we show ourselves true followers of Christ and of Saint Francis by our readiness to live simply and to share with others. We recognise that some of our members may be called to a literal following of Saint Francis in a life of extreme simplicity. All of us, however, accept that we avoid luxury and waste, and regard our possessions as being held in trust for God.This part of the Third Aim is about the relationship between simplicity and generosity. We aim to live simply, but not so that we might hoard our earnings for some future extravagance or even to secure our own future. Rather, our simplicity should enable us to live generously.
We should avoid luxury and waste. Of course, today the latter is doubly important because of the environmental implications of waste.
Closely related to waste is hoarding, a practice that is encouraged by the retail industry with its constant temptation to buy special offers (three for two; BOGOF). But hoarding goods is just as much an attempt to secure our own future as hoarding money. And it compromises our desire for external simplicity by encouraging clutter.
What about avoidance of luxury? We should avoid it for our own sakes because luxury breeds self-indulgence and encourages us to be possessive. So it is the very antithesis of the Franciscan way. But we should also avoid luxury for the sake of others because it creates barriers and provokes jealousy. As Franciscans, we are called to break down social barriers. It follows that anything, such as conspicuous spending, that reinforces such barriers is to be avoided.
But a balance needs to be struck. While we are to avoid luxury, we should not do so by adopting an asceticism that fails to enjoy the good gifts of God’s creation.