In the liturgical season of Lent, less is more.
We were made for relationship; with God first and then with each other. But how much time have we spent “relating” to one another beyond technology? In his 2022 Lenten message, Let Us Not Grow Tired of Doing Good, Pope Francis is asking us to reflect upon the question of digital media usage. It’s an important question to keep front and center as we go about our daily lives, given the influence of the media. And it is especially needed as we begin the liturgical season of Lent, where less is more, as in less stress which can be had in part, of course, by less noise from the TV, the radio, the laptops, and phones.
Hopefully, the reality of the situation, as in the statistics, will serve as a wake-up call. Adults spend about 11 hours a day “listening to, watching, reading, or generally interacting with the media.” Yes, you read correctly; 11 hours a day. And the recent studies, are before COVID and our growing dependence of Zoom or FaceTime. No wonder the Pope is asking us to really give some thought and prayer to how much media we consume.
He said, “Let us not grow tired of fighting against concupiscence, that weakness which induces to selfishness and all evil, and finds in the course of history a variety of ways to lure men and women into sin (cf. Fratelli Tutti, 166). One of these is addiction to the digital media, which impoverishes human relationships. Lent is a propitious time to resist these temptations and to cultivate instead a more integral form of human communication made up of ‘authentic encounters,’ face-to-face and in person.”
The title of the Pope’s Lenten reflection is taken from St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians.
“Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up. So then, while we have the opportunity let us do good to all.” — Gal 6:9-10
Think about all the good we could do in our homes, our parishes, and our communities, and last but certainly not least, in our spiritual lives, if we spent more time with God and each other and less time with our gadgets.
Here are a few helpful suggestions as you begin your Lenten journey:
- Read the Pope’s Lenten message and share it with your family and friends.
- Read the Nielsen study and reflect upon your own media usage as well as consider how you might cut back on your media usage.
- Try, as the Pope stresses in his 2022 Lenten message, to meet friends and family “in-person,” rather than via technology. Pay special attention to the elderly and the lonely in your community.
Just a few small steps in curtailing our media habits can encourage us during Lent, and beyond to continually do good.