Lent: giving up and taking up

Repent and do penance. – Make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.

*****

Lent is primarily seen as a time for giving something up. Pop. Candy. Television. Giving up Facebook has become the popular choice for some.

But Lent is also a time for taking something up. Prayer. Reflection. Spiritual reading. Serving others.

I have chosen to give up Facebook and Twitter for Lent. Last night I logged out of both on my iPhone, which is no small task. Facebook has made it very difficult to completely log out and I had to go into my phone’s notification settings to delete my account from my phone in order to log out. I chose this road because of what I’ve seen over the past few months and how it’s begun to eat away at me. I’ve written about it before: the comboxes. Below are a few choice ones I took from an article about Pope Francis and same sex “marriage” on the Huffington Post:

As the French say, ‘The more things change, the more they remain the same.’ Catholics are no better than ISIS. – David

And that is how a Theocracy begins…. Anyone else recognize that this is just the ‘Christian’ version of Sharia law? Once religious principles become established as law … like it has been in much of the Muslim world … it is a self-perpetuating dictatorship … and whether it is Christianity or Islam makes NO difference. – Fran

No better than ISIS? Of course, we Catholics recently burned a Jordanian pilot alive in a cage while videotaping it, “randomly” killed Jews in a Paris deli, beheaded 21 Egyptian Christians and to top it off burned another 45 souls alive in Iraq just yesterday. I can’t wait to hear what Father tells us to do for Lent. I’m sure he’ll tell us just as soon as he receives the marching orders from the pope on the special shortwave radio we hide in our basement and use with our Vatican-issued Decoder Ring™.

No difference between radical Islam and Christianity? Fran has spent too much time swallowing what the president says. Actually, I doubt Fran has spent any time in thought at all and has confused using big words with comprehension and thought.

This is what the Internet has become: a home for uninformed, unintelligent, unintellectual, unreasoned, uncompassionate opinions. Popular jargon refers to them as trolls, for trolls they have become.

(Just got the call from Father. I’m to bring an extra two gallons of gasoline to church tonight. Oh boy!)

Now David and Fran are the outliers, right? Lately I’m not so sure. What was hailed as a tool for opening up lines of communication has become an isolation chamber where we block ourselves off from icky opinions other than our own and those people who are so stupid as to have them. I have friends on my Facebook who I know are anti-Catholic, anti-military, and hate conservatives to their very core thanks to the Facebook algorithm that now allows us to see almost every like or comment our friends make anywhere on Facebook. And it’s painful. Some of these are people I’ve known since we were kids, or in college. It’s hard knowing that I have friends who truly despise the things I hold dear.

I’m Catholic. As such I’m conservative in some things and liberal in others. I’m a white, male business owner who is also a married homeowner. And you’re damn right I’m pro-military as I currently have a son who is a Marine. Oohrah!

Hence the hiatus and what I’ve planned to become a permanent vacation. I’ve even got a timer set on my iPhone: July 20, 2015. I’m only staying that long because I’m the administrator of the page for my son’s baseball team and the season will be wrapped up around then. I know I’d written about leaving Facebook several months ago but then I got sucked into managing that baseball page.

152 Days from today I’m walking away from the noise for good. For Lent it’s a social media hiatus as well as the comment sections on any article I read.

So what am I taking up? What am I going to fill that space with?

For starters I pulled out of the driveway this morning at 6:15am to drive to 6:30 Mass for Ash Wednesday. Yes, while doing so I managed to brush my left-side rearview mirror against the garage entryway and shattered the plastic shell. But now it matches the right-side mirror that was cracked in the car wash two summers ago. I laughed it off however as a sign of the trials and graces to come this Lent.

It’s time to make the switch to the red book (Volume 2) of the Liturgy of the Hours for Lent and Easter. I did so this morning and was so edified by what I prayed and read that I could double or triple the size of this blog post. I will quote a portion of the second reading from today’s Office of Readings, however. It is from a letter to the Corinthians by Pope St. Clement (d. 100 AD):

Brothers, we should be humble in mind, putting aside all arrogance, pride and foolish anger. Rather, we should act in accordance with the Scriptures, as the Holy Spirit says: The wise man must not glory in his wisdom nor the strong man in his strength nor the rich man in his riches. Rather, let him who glories glory in the Lord by seeking him and doing what is right and just. Recall especially what the Lord Jesus said when he taught gentleness and forbearance. Be merciful, he said, so that you may have mercy shown to you. Forgive, so that you may be forgiven. As you treat others, so you will be treated. As you give, so you will receive. As you judge, so you will be judged. As you are kind to others, so you will be treated kindly. The measure of your giving will be the measure of your receiving.

I’m pausing in my reading of The Fellowship of the Ring (Strider and the hobbits have just arrived at Weathertop) and am going to read The Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ by Archbishop Alban Goodier. It contains 36 chapters which means I should be able to read a chapter a day and be finished by Easter. I read the first chapter this morning and it is excellent.

Finally, I’m spending my Lent meditating and chewing over the following passage from Holy Scripture:

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice, and be kind to one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:31-32)

LOTH, Vol. 2 and my bible opened to Ephesians 4:31-32.

LOTH, Vol. 2 and my bible opened to Ephesians 4:31-32.

Two simple verses. Thirty words. Each day I plan on reading them 2-3 times and writing what insights I receive.

“…we should be humble in mind, putting aside all arrogance, pride and foolish anger.”

“The measure of your giving will be the measure of your receiving.”

The world (and its internet) are filled with bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander and malice. It’s begun to rub off on my soul and psyche like bug grease on a car windshield when driving the highways on a hot, summer South Dakota evening. Before I succumb to temptation and add to these ills I say enough.

Enough.

*****

He will give strength to your bones and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water whose waters never run dry.—Isaiah 58:11, from The Office of Readings for Ash Wednesday (The Liturgy of the Hours, Vol. II)

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One thought on “Lent: giving up and taking up

  1. I am also doing a kind of Internet blackout for Lent… basically the only things I’m checking are my blog and email. No Tumblr, no YouTube, and no comment forums on news sites!

    Like

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