1.0 Contemporary Understanding of Simplicity
Simplicity may take many forms of interpretation in this contemporary world. First simplicity is hiding behind the word truth. In this era there is rarely Truth but there are “truths” which means it varies from individual to an individual, place, and situation and even it is conditioned to feelings and emotions. This means we do not say things as they are, but instead gaggle with words to please others. For instance what is in the mind does not conform to the reality or what is real does not conform to what is in mind.
Nowadays we hide under the mask of being truthful yet we are just being pretenders. What we should also understand about simplicity is that it is not the suppression of good things but ordering. This enjoyment of pleasure has its place in truly satisfying life. Nowadays people view simplicity as incapable of great feeling, someone who doesn’t enjoy anything. Simplicity in this era is a hiding place for value; clashes complicated by greed, fear, peer pressure, false sense of identity. There is no truth in our intention because we have hidden and bad agendas underneath whatever action we do for the sake of public recognition, fame, power and money. There is no purity of Heart because in any simplest of labors he wants something in return. Nowadays instead of helping in calamities, we hide behind the name “god” asking people to pray yet we are looting money and tangible things that can be helpful to those people who are victims of disasters.
There is a great attractiveness to those who speak skillfully the lies and give false promise today. We can notice from their talk that they have nothing to hide but truly they are hiding the reality from us by massaging us with sweet words to touch our feelings and emotions. It is clear now days that to stand and speak the truth is to make enemies and your life more miserable because you will lack friends. We are therefore tempted to blur the truth when our own conveniences are at stake or when truth is embarrassing and putting us into shameful positions. We may say more but in the more there is rarely something like truth. Today’s generation has been adamant in accepting a simple life and ourselves as we are and now we live virtual and social media lies that is full of lies and man-made content of edited photos and events with just live to fantasize living a life that is not ours. Contemporary world nowadays we go around the virtue of simplicity and never enter into it to understand what really it is. This means we are just spectators of simplicity, we talk about it but never live it.
2.0 VINCENTIAN UNDERSTANDING OF SIMPLICITY
St Vincent referred to simplicity as his “GOSPEL”, it is first of all speaking the truth. It is saying things as they are without concealing or hiding anything. For instance the heart must not think one thing while the mouth says another, it will be a contradiction. To be simple we have to avoid duplicity, cunning and double meaning.
Simplicity for St. Vincent is taking God as the reference point of anything, showing our dependence on God. In this sense he reflected that simplicity is doing everything for the love of God.
From Vincent’s reflection it is also clear that simplicity is living an adorned life, not having too much some of which is not in use. Hence we need to use what we have with great simplicity. Simplicity is also evident in our day to day reflections and homilies, we should explain or interpret the gospel in normal and simple terms for better understanding of the congregation. We need not to complicate reflections and homilies with more creativity of wordings and vocabulary as a show off, of being learned but instead you need to teach what you believe in.
3.0 Relevance of Simplicity in the Christian living; especially Lenten season
It is true that simplicity is a vital virtue as we can see it. God himself is the simplest being. Where there is simplicity there is God. God is the absolute truth, we need to draw our truth from him who is the source. In this Lenten season we have to lead simple lives for us to be redeemed. We are invited to be truthful first of all to ourselves, our neighbors and to God. It’s unfortunate that that we are not truthful to God, we want to hide things to God yet he already knows that. We need to learn to speak the truth and confess our sins as we sinned for God to pardon us no matter how embarrassing they are. In this Lenten season we are all invited especially as it is evident from the Gospel of the third Sunday of lent, John 4:23, “but the hour is coming, and is now here when true worshippers will worship the father in spirit and truth and indeed the father seeks such people to worship him. God is spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth. This implies that we need to live simple lives, not complicated ones. In this season we are called to life of prayer, fasting and works of mercy. Let these three things be done in a truthful and genuine way and open our hearts to the lord. In confession we are encouraged to say the sins we committed as they are. It’s very unfortunate that we go for confession and say some few and conclude that, “with those I have forgotten” yet this is a pre meditated thing, and we expect forgiveness from God. Let’s us learn from the Gospel of St. John that we read during the third Sunday of lent, Jesus being at the well with the Samaritan woman. When Jesus asks her to go and bring her husband, she says the truth that she has none, because she had five of them and the fifth one was not even hers’. The woman was honest and she got redemption, we too need to repent in truth and will be saved. As sent John writes “truth will set you free.” Lenten activities of prayer and fasting should not be a show off that and the best one who knows how to pray or lead prayerful life or I know better how to fast than others. Let it be between you and God. Let’s us not be like the Pharisees that Jesus warned us of, that they burden people with strict rules yet themselves do not uphold any that hypocrisy.
1 Peter 2:22-23
He did no wrong no deceit was found in his mouth. When he was insulted he returned no insult. When he was made to suffer he did not counter with threats. Instead he delivered himself up to the one who judges justly.
2 Cor 1:12
Foe our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience that we have conducted ourselves in the world and especially towards you with the simplicity and sincerity of God and not by human wisdom but by the grace of God.
Psalm 15:1 Lord who may abide in your tent? Who may dwell on your holy mountain? Whoever walks without blame, doing what is right, speaks truth from his heart.
Mathew 5:37Let your yes mean yes and your no mean no.
It is important not to despise the simple things. To be simple we have to realize what we need in life, what is really necessary. To be simple is not to be desperate or lacking in life. Great happiness comes from simplicity than complexity.
*Emmanuel Busieka, Philosophy 2 Student, and Seminarian at De Paul Seminary, Nairobi Kenya*