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Posted February 18, 2012

Are we losing the meaning of simplicity?

By Father Eugene Hemrick

In the first parish I was assigned to after ordination, I not only ministered to parishioners but also to our town as a fireman. Another fireman I befriended jokingly said to me one Sunday after I had preached a lengthy sermon, "Father, the homily last Sunday lost us. Remember to follow the motto, 'Keep it simple stupid!'"

Simplicity doesn't just apply to complicated homilies; it is especially applicable to our present lifestyles. It is no longer a simple matter of just going to work, but rather one of finding ourselves fighting through one gridlock after another: Our homes brim with complex gadgetry that can give us more headaches than joy.

Children merely going off to school and leisurely playing sports on their own are a thing of the past. Our grocery shopping takes much longer because of the many new choices of food available. Our ears and eyes never seem to get a rest because of iPods, cell phones and plasma TVs.

Undoubtedly we are blessed with commodities that have enhanced our comfort level and have taken the work out of many tasks. But have we enhanced our life? Is going from a less complex life to a much more complicated one causing us to lose the meaning of simplicity?

The opposite of simplicity is double-mindedness.

In the case of some homilies, double-mindedness translates into meandering all over the place and not sticking to one simple point.

When simplicity is applied to our lifestyles, it will require concentration on one thing at a time. For example, simplicity dictates that we not drive while talking on cell phones, that we give children schedules that allow them to live a normal childhood that is devoid of never-ending activity.

Simplicity is about consumer frugality -- not buying everything desirable. It is about simplifying our needs and consuming less energy and resources.

When a mayor of a large city was interviewed recently, he was asked about the biggest challenge we face regarding the oil shortages. He bluntly replied, "We are stuck on stupidity!" We aren't thinking in terms of simplifying our lives. Rather, we are stuck on trying to maintain their complexity.

Simplicity implies cutting back, cutting out, change, dying to some of our most cherished possessions. To be stuck on stupidity means wanting to preserve our present way of living at all cost.

Will the costs we are willing to pay to preserve our present complex way of life end up costing us out of existence? Will we remain on stupidity or move on to a more simple and prudent life?