Thursday, March 5, 2009

No texting, Internet, or MP3 players for Lent?

I always give up video games for Lent, but blogging, Web surfing, and my MP3 player? No way! I gotta know what the Pope, the bishop, and Padre Hoyos are up to...

But all kidding aside, the Italian bishops have a point: for us lay Catholics for whom prayer is a leisure activity and not a required part of our jobs (as it is for priests and religious), blogging, Web surfing, and other forms of high tech communication can, and do, cut into the time we spend directly with God. I seriously thought of stopping this blog for Lent for precisely that reason but abandoning it just as it's getting some traction did not seem wise.

There are many days when the only time and way God speaks to me is through the alabanza music I listen to on my MP3 player to drown out the sound of other commuters' cellphone calls on Metro. The blogs and the Internet have gobbled up the rest of my spiritual practice. Are they a form of evangelización? Yes, but at a steep price...

Catholics are urged to give up texting for Lent
Associated Press

ROME (AP) — Roman Catholic bishops in Italy are urging the faithful to go on a high-tech fast for Lent, switching off modern appliances from cars to iPods and abstaining from surfing the Web or text messaging until Easter.

The suggestion goes far beyond no-meat Fridays, giving a modern twist to traditional forms of abstinence in the five-week period Christians set aside for fasting and prayer ahead of Easter.

And it shows the Church's increasing focus on technology's uses — with many of the Lenten appeals posted on various dioceses' Web sites.

Dioceses and Catholic groups in Modena, southern Bari and other cities have called for a ban on text messaging every Friday in Lent, which began last week with Ash Wednesday.

"It's a small way to remember the importance of concrete and not virtual relationships," the Modena diocese said in a statement. "It's an instrument to remind us that our actions and lifestyles have consequences in distant countries."

The diocese said the "no SMS day" seeks to draw attention to years of conflict in Congo fueled in part by the struggle for control of coltan mines. The mineral is an essential material in cell phones.

The Turin diocese is suggesting the faithful not watch television during Lent. In the northeastern city of Trento, the church has created a "new lifestyles" calendar with proposals for each week of Lent.

Some ideas: Leave cars at home and hop on a bike or a bus; stop throwing chewing gum on the street and start recycling waste; enjoy the silence of a week without the Internet and iPods. ...

...The Church is trying to balance an increasing appreciation of modern communication with a wariness of new media.

In January, the Vatican launched its own YouTube channel, with Pope Benedict XVI welcoming viewers to this "great family that knows no borders." ...

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