Less is more

“The Great Fast is the time to get in touch with these traits of our character”

During Deacon Michael George’s Homily at St. Gregory in Upper St. Clair, Pa. on March 31, the Fourth Sunday of the Great Fast, he discussed the concept of “less is more.”

The less physical and mental “baggage” we carry around on ourselves, he said, is always for the better. From a physical standpoint, these include fatty foods, which place weights on our heart, and loud music, which strain our

“Less is more,” he repeated. “In the same way, we have things we carry around with us. Most of us would consider them our personality traits. We’re kind of proud of those things,” he said.

“These traits, these things we carry around in us, block us from a deeper, more effective relationship with our Lord. “The Great Fast is the time to get in touch with these traits of our character.”

I became acutely aware of one of my character traits in the checkout line at Giant Eagle a few weeks ago. I was in line for the second time during one trip so I could purchase one final item: a package of bakery rolls.

I first went to the self-checkout to buy my groceries until I noticed the package of rolls did not have a UPC sticker attached. With a line behind me and no help coming despite the blinking green light, I decided to pay for my bagged items then go back to the bakery to grab a pack with a sticker and get back in line.

As I stood there with a blue plastic bag in one hand and rolls in the other, the woman in line in front of me offered to let me go ahead, since I had only one item.

“Thanks,” I told her, explaining my dilemma with the wayward UPC sticker.

“You’re welcome,” she said. “I’m sure you would do the same thing if roles were reversed.”

“Would I have done the same?” I thought to myself.

The question has stuck with me ever since. Nothing like having an existential crisis in the “10 items or less” line at Giant Eagle.

She was very nice to let me go in front of her but the cynic in me thinks she did it to put a buffer between her and the woman in front of her, who looked at me with narrowed eyes when I appeared, seemingly out of thin air.

Cut to a week later and I’m waiting to get a haircut at a local establishment. A man walks through the door and asks if I’m next in line.

“Yes,” I tell him. Then I overhear him say all he’s getting is a beard trim. My mind flashes back to the woman at Giant Eagle, so I tell the man I don’t mind if he goes before me.

He appreciates the gesture but says it’s OK. One of the other stylists will take him I’d like to think I would have asked if he wanted to go in front of me without my previous situation at Giant Eagle.

But there’s no doubt the Sticker-less Bakery Roll Situation played a part in piping up my voice. It was a good feeling to -— well, at least try to — sacrifice a part of myself during the Great Fast.

I don’t say these things to brag. I’m simply trying to say I think there are actually good people out there who can serve as an inspiration to make myself a better person. Who knew all that could happen in line at Giant Eagle? I hope everyone’s Great Fast was also fruitful. Have a blessed Easter.