In Lent we are called to leave the city, leave the public square, leave the distractions of daily life in order to follow Jesus into the desert to fast, pray and be converted.
How are we to do this when we cannot abandon our families, our jobs or our studies?
I definitely can read and pray over the Scriptures more [see Lectio Divina for Lent 2017, from the USCCB].
I definitely can seek out opportunities for sacramental confession, fasting and doing works of mercy [see some more Lenten resources from the USCCB].
But how can I make more of my daily life can become “the desert” where I can pray? What other forms of fasting (in addition to traditional fasting) would let me share in Christ’s sacrifice and do works of mercy for others?
- How can I have greater silence and less distraction so as to pray better?
- How can I have greater interior recollection and be less moved by worldly things?
- How can I have more charitable thoughts (so as to be more charitable) and be less gossipy?
- How can I become more holy this Lent?
One sure way for modern people is to consider your habits in using technology in the light of prayer, recollection, growth in virtue and active charity towards those around you.
From the Catholic Camp
Why does having our technology habits under control matter so much? How does our life of prayer, gratitude and charity relate to being present? How can we grow in this respect?
There are related conversations going on in Humanum: Issues in Family, Culture and Science (The Quarterly of the John Paul II Institute’s Office of Cultural and Pastoral Formation):
- Book Review of Larry Rosen’s iDisorder: Understanding Our Obsession with Technology and Overcoming its Hold on Us (2012) by Carly O’Connor in Humanum
- “The Electronic Cottage” (Humanum, Summer 2013), Allan Carlson
- “Editorial: Technology in the Home” (Humanum, Summer 2013), Stratford Caldecott
- “Technology and the New Evangelization” (Humanum, Summer 2013), Jonah Lynch, F.S.C.B.
- “Education and Technology” (Humanum, 2015), Margaret Harper McCarthy
See more of the articles of the Summer 2013 issue “Technology in the Home” of Humanum.
Catholics have lots to say about this from a spiritual, human life and family perspective. But so does the secular field of tech development!
From the Camp of Neurology and Behavioral Science within Product Development
Neurologists are aware of the impact of technology uses on our brains and their potentially detrimental effects. A well-known book published last year is The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World (MIT Press, 2016), by Adam Gazzaley [3:39 min interview with the author on TODAY Show “Too Much Tech Can Hurt Your Brain, Expert Says”].
Tech developers actually play as active role in fostering habit-forming behaviors. Nir Eyal published Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products (2014) from within the industry.
But he also blogs on seeking solutions to real problems:
- “Who’s Really Addicting You to Technology?”,
- “Why People Check Their Tech at the Wrong Times (and the Simple Trick to Stop It)”
He summarizes his argument and offers concrete advice in the short video lecture (17:21) entitled “Un-Hooked: Increasing Focus in the Age of Distraction” . The talk closes with Nir Eyal saying: “finally [you] will be able to control technology, as opposed to allowing technology to control you.”
Jason Shah as a guest blogger wrote the article:“How to Break 5 Soul-Sucking Technology Habits”
As a preview, you may wish to know that these “5 soul-sucking tech habits” are:
- Habit #1: Checking my iPhone Unnecessarily
- Habit #2: Checking Gmail and Facebook While Working
- Habit #3: Googling Everything
- Habit #4: Navigating Short Distances, Bumping into People While I Follow the Blue Dot
- Habit #5: Watching Netflix Before Going to Sleep
He ends with a practical series of suggestions and realism: “Breaking The Internet Addiction Takes a Mix of Trigger Control and Discipline”.
May discipline and the graces of God help us to do what we ought, so as to become who God wants us to be in imitation of Christ our Lord. Let His Blessed Mother also help us as we go on line: see Marian Minute (a 60 second prayer moment before continuing onto your browser)!
Let us all set out to spend Lent 2017 with greater recollection, deeper prayer, and a growth in virtue and charity. Let us go into the desert where Jesus has shown the way, and let us find Him more and more in the deserts of our daily life.