A few housecleaning items on this Ash Wednesday.
I promise I’ll get back to my The Screwtape Letters series. I got a little sidetracked by life during the last two weeks.
I did post something at my other blog earlier today about something I read by Cardinal Newman. Here’s that link.
Yesterday Amanda at Inside the Life of Moi wrote a terrific piece about her decision to delete her Instagram account. Near the end she writes:
And so I find the icons on my iPhone, jittering in fear, wondering who is going to get cut from the team. Quiver away, dear Instagram! Today, it’s your turn to get the boot.
I loved that part about the iPhone icons “jittering in fear.” If you’ve ever deleted apps from an iPhone or iTouch you know what she means.
In fact three of them were jittering on my phone last night: Twitter, Messenger and Facebook.
A week ago Twitter leaked that it was thinking of altering its feed and moving towards an algorithm-based feed that displays what it thinks you would be interested in. Aside from the fact that this would allow Twitter to control the news that you see on your feed (much like Facebook has done the past few years) I have grown tired of all the sarcastic overly-cynical angst-filled tweets. After attempting to log out of Twitter on my phone yesterday for Lent and finding that every time I touched the icon I was logged back in I decided to just delete the app. Since 99.99% of the time I access Twitter through my phone I’ve effectively left the service. I’ll decide after Lent whether to delete the account from my PC. So long Twitter.
I discovered that I cannot log out of Facebook Messenger from my phone. Farewell Messenger.
While I can log out of Facebook from my phone I was on a roll. And since I was leaving Facebook for Lent anyhow I decided to make it a triple-delete special. Auf wiedersehen-Goodbye Facebook.
Instead I’ll be here at WordPress when I can. Spending more time with Screwtape.
And with all of you of course.
In addition I chose as my reading this Lent an old book I found in some boxes. Meditation on the Passion was first published in 1946 and has been reprinted many times since then. The version I have was published in 1961. I found that it is still available in paperback form, but also in Kindle format for $2.99. All twenty-two reviews give it five stars, and from what I’ve read to this point I can’t find a reason to argue with them. While Amazon lists Fr. Walsh as the author he was in fact the editor and wrote the book’s introduction. According to the bookcover’s backflap on my edition the author was an unnamed member of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was Mistress of the Novices for about thirty years.
Look at that old book cover. How could you not want to read it?
It looks like I’m doing perhaps too much for Lent I suppose, but it’s very doable without the endless finger-scrolling and buried-face-in-phone-screen that was a result of social media. Even my two kids gave up their tablets and games on their PS4. And considering how fierce they’ve become at Star Wars Battle Front that was no small sacrifice for them. Ha!
There is a myriad of small groups offered at my parish during Lent to meet and discuss Matthew Kelly’s book Rediscover Jesus (get your free copy here) but alas…I could not find a time that worked for me. Hence the other options.
I also keep myself so busy to take my mind off of my oldest son, a US Marine. He is supposed to have a two-week leave in March prior to deploying to a not-so-very-safe part of the world for the rest of this year. Two weeks ago he told me it was cut back to a five day leave. Last week he said there’s a chance of his not coming home at all before shipping out. Nothing sobers me up faster than the knowledge that a photo I took mere minutes prior to saying goodbye to him at the airport may be the last one taken of he and his two siblings together.
I’m sorry. That was a bit much. But it’s also my reality.
And finally, I stopped by the Pink Sisters today to pray the Divine Office. I thought the following selections from Psalm 103 and Isaiah 58 were particularly appropriate on this, the first day of Lent.
From Psalm 103:
For he knows how we are made,
he remembers we are nothing but dust.
Man – his life is like grass,
he blossoms and withers like flowers of the field.
The wind blows and carries him away:
no trace of him remains.
From Isaiah 58:
If you do away with the yoke,
the clenched fist, the wicked word,
if you give your bread to the hungry,
and relief to the oppressed,
your light will rise in the darkness,
and your shadows become like noon.
The Lord will always guide you,
giving you relief in desert places.
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.
You will rebuild the ancient ruins,
build up on the old foundations.
You will be called ‘Breach-mender’,
‘Restorer of ruined houses.’
When taken together I gleaned the following: my time on this earth is preciously brief when you take eternity into account. Psalm 103 has always been a sobering reminder of that fact. And in one of my favorite pieces of Scripture Isaiah reminds me of the same. So much of social media is in fact a yoke around our necks, filled with wicked/angry words typed through clenched fists (and teeth), and even if I do not fall prey to doing the same it is quite wearisome to read. That is time that would be better spent helping those around us. Silencing ourselves in order to listen to that still, small voice of God as it attempts to guide us and strengthen us. To be an oasis in this cultural desert for others and rebuild upon the old, tried and tested foundations.