A media fast for Lent – sacrificing online
What are you giving up for Lent? The answer can be frivolous but many Catholics give up something serious to remember Christ’s sacrifice. Here, several bishops share their plans for Lent and remind us it is about more than giving something up.
Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto.
“One thing that I enter into periodically is a media fast. Seminarians refrain from using technology six days a week and for many; it is an eye-opener. We want to use technology but not let technology use us. When we see the amount of time consumed online, the hatred expressed on social media, much of it anonymous, it is distressing. Many people would never express these words to someone in person.
“Perhaps if we focus more on how we can communicate with charity directly with an individual, even if we disagree with them, we can model the example of Jesus – speaking with clarity and charity.
Or we can take some of the time we spend with technology and offer it in prayer or charity for others. Our words matter, whether in person or online. Lent is an appropriate time to reflect on how we can best reflect the face of Jesus in all that we do.”
Retiring Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia.
“I always encourage people not to be excessive in the Lenten sacrifices they take on. If it’s too burdensome, they won’t keep the commitment for very long.
“It is always better to commit to do something you’re already doing but to do it well, rather than to begin new projects and to neglect one’s ordinary spiritual life. For example, it would be better to pray well for 10 minutes than to pray badly for a half hour. Adding time to distracted prayer is not as virtuous as trying to concentrate more faithfully for a shorter period of time.
“Positive actions are better than negative ones because ‘positive’ is what the Lord Jesus is always about – wanting us to do more, to be more generous. An example would be to go visit someone who is aged and lonely. It may be a sacrifice in the sense that a person doesn’t want to do that, but is very positive in the impact it would have on the life of another.”
Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane.
“I see no reason to look beyond the three traditional disciplines of Lent – prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. But I do see a reason to take them seriously.
“By prayer I mean a more attentive listening to God, turning away from a culture of self-absorption; by fasting I mean turning away from a culture of consumption which can become addiction; by almsgiving I mean giving the needy what is their right, turning away from a culture of inequity. These are the age-old ways of dethroning the false gods, which is what Lent is all about.
“My own path through Lent is a more focused and disciplined commitment to the asceticism of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. That means a second period of contemplative prayer each day; it means saying no to food and drink (especially alcohol) and to digital excess; and it means giving more than loose change to Project Compassion. These aren’t the full range of my Lenten discipline but it’s where I start in an attempt to move beyond tokenism.”
Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, Ireland.
“I recall a slogan used during Lent for many years in Ireland that said: ‘Lent is what you do!’
“We should allow ourselves to feel challenged and focus on how we might grow closer to God by our daily actions, thoughts, words and to consider what sacrifice might be made to achieve this. It is a key time for penance and people could consider:
- Abstain from meat or some other food
- Abstain from alcohol or smoking
- Make a special effort at family prayer and daily Mass
- Fast from all food for a longer period than usual and give what is saved to the needy
- Help the poor, sick, old, or lonely
- Reduce personal waste to combat the ‘throwaway culture’.
Each day during Lent on my own social media accounts and on the Catholic Bishops accounts, we share suggestions on how people might #LiveLent in the context of their faith.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster,
“Lent is a time to look into ourselves and pinpoint the ways in which we are neither truthful nor just and the ways in which we close our hearts to the promptings of God.”
“Mary will always lead us to her Son. She will take us to him so he can show us his love and mercy. We all know well the title of Mary as our ‘sorrowful Mother’. We turn to her in our sorrows. Yet there is another tribute to her, even more deeply rooted in our tradition. It is that of the Joys of Mary.
“These Joys, often numbered as seven, including the coming of the Angel Gabriel to Mary at the Annunciation and the wondrous birth of her Son, our Blessed Saviour and her glorious entry into the happiness of heaven. We share in them for they are the great joy of our faith. Indeed, we are called to be heralds of this joy in a world often in need of joyfulness.”
This article comes from www.zenit.org