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Packing with purpose: A Catholic reflection on essentials

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Daniel Esparza - published on 05/08/24

Whenever we are about to go on a trip, we are invited to address the fundamental question of what we truly require to live a meaningful life.

The act of packing a suitcase might seem mundane. Most of the time, it is but a simple checklist of clothes and toiletries. For Catholics, however, it can be an opportunity for a more profound reflection on what truly sustains us, both physically and spiritually. Whenever we are about to go on a trip, we are invited to address the fundamental question of what we truly require to live a meaningful and somewhat comfortable life.

Our spacious homes often become a canvas for accumulating material possessions. A well-packed suitcase serves as a reminder that essentials are surprisingly minimal. One can function perfectly well with a few outfits, basic hygiene products, and a well-worn Bible or prayer book.

This minimalist approach reminds us of the simplicity that Jesus advocated. Remember the birds of the air, who “do not sow or reap or store away in barns” (Matthew 6, 26). Hitting the road with just a suitcase can remind us that true wealth lies not in possessions, but in trusting God’s provision.

Additionally, the packing process often prompts us to appreciate the often-overlooked blessings of home. Imagine packing for a hot country. Without central air, the cool comfort of home is missed. Hotel rooms with limited space serve as a reminder of the spaciousness we often take for granted. This absence serves to highlight the gifts we already possess: a haven for relaxation, a place to celebrate with loved ones, and a space of our own to meditate, ponder, plan, and pray.

A suitcase can also reflect our values. When packing, should we prioritize the latest trends or select items that reflect our respect for creation and a rejection of excessive consumerism? Do we bring with us any reminders of the faith that provide us with a sense of stability, even (or especially) in unfamiliar territory?

Ultimately, what we carry with us is not limited to the physical suitcase. We bring with us our experiences, our relationships, and most importantly, our hearts. What are the most valuable investments of our emotional energy? Are we packing concerns and apprehensions, or are we leaving space for optimism, discovery, change, and gratitude?

Traveling as Catholics allows us to view the world through a new lens, appreciating the diversity of God’s creation and the universality of the human experience. It is a reminder that while the physical comforts of home are blessings, our true foundation lies in faith and in the love of God and others – which we can carry with us wherever we go.

As you prepare for your next trip (believe it or not, summer is coming), we encourage you to take a moment and think. When packing, consider your suitcase as a reflection of your true values and needs.

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