Mid-Lent: Technology Helps To Avoid the Slump
By Jennifer Gregory Miller ( bio - articles - email ) | Apr 01, 2014 | In The Liturgical Year
This past Sunday we celebrated Laetare Sunday: “Rejoice, Jerusalem”. We have passed the halfway mark of Lent and closer to the feast of the Resurrection! Only 19 more days in Lent (if you include the Triduum).
Gaudete Sunday and Laetare Sunday—these are the “Rose” (or pink) Sundays during Advent and Lent, both of them the beginning Latin words of the Introit or Entrance Antiphon which means “rejoice”. Do you forget which one falls in Advent and which one in Lent? There is an easy way to remember: Lent begins with “L” same as “Laetare”. Gaudete belongs to Advent.
So often we hit a slump by mid-Lent. The rose colored vestments are a signal to renew our resolutions and reapply ourselves. Although Easter is nearer, we have to go through the Passion and Death during the Triduum to reach Easter Sunday. There is no resurrection without the cross.
At least for me, my main Lenten focus was to shut the door to outside distractions and noises and enter my room (heart) to pray and find God. I hear of so many people give up Facebook for Lent, or reading blogs, or reducing other time with technology and social media. It’s not that different in our home. We reduced our television viewing and other screen time. This quieter time allows us to enjoy each other without interruptions.
But technology can also be our friend in helping us renew our focus in Lent. I’m usually really slow in adopting or adapting to modern social media and technology. I approach it with caution and try to not jump into the latest and greatest. But I know we should not be afraid of technology or social media used prudently. Pope Francis said the Internet is a “gift from God”. He is not an isolated voice. Vatican II’s document Inter Mirifica (Decree on Means of Social Communication), Church and Internet from Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and Pope Benedict repeatedly encouraged strong Christian presence with social communications. There are other examples of how the Church has repeatedly emphasized that proper and prudent use of social communication can be a tool for evangelization and growth in our spiritual lives.
These are some of our family’s favorite tools of technology and media that might help us with perseverance to the end of Lent:
Mobile Phones: While it’s not necessary to own, my husband and I have really found our iPhones very useful tools. My favorite use is the calendar and time reminders. My phone is my monastery bell for reminders for prayer. I set reminders for the Angelus, Morning Prayer, rosary, spiritual reading, examination of conscience, etc. I set the calendar reminders for all my activities, including the extra daily Masses or confessions during Lent. The reminders help me practice punctuality. I’m not only on time, but the reminders helps me stay calm in preparing to leave the house.
Podcasts: I don’t subscribe to many podcasts, and I know there are a myriad of really good Catholic ones. I just don’t have much alone time to listen to them (and I have not found smaller soft earbuds that fit comfortably in my ears). But these podcasts I use on a regular basis:
- USCCB Daily Readings
- Divine Office—This is also available as an app. Pray the Liturgy of the Hours throughout the day.
- The Lanky Guys—This is one podcast a week with insights on the Sunday Mass readings.
- Catholic Stuff You Should Know —This series is on a little sabbatical, but should return in the summer. They have extensive archives in the meantime.
I play the readings and Divine Office during my morning routine, and then will play the Mass readings for my sons, either at breakfast or in the car. The meditations from “The Lanky Guys” on the upcoming Sunday Mass I usually spread out listening over the weekend before Sunday Mass.
I use either my phone or tablet to play the podcasts. For my birthday last month my sons gave me a Bop, which is a Bluetooth speaker which makes it easier to listen no matter where we are.
Audiobooks: We enjoy audiobooks, particularly when riding in the car. For Lent we are listening to the Truth and Life Dramatized Audio New Testament.
Apps: I have both of these on my iPad and iPhone:
- Magnificat —My husband and I have had a print version of the Magnificat for years, but we also use this app all the time to follow the Mass readings, morning and evening prayer, meditations and saints’ biographies.
- Divine Office —I mentioned above that there is an option for a podcast. The app is easier to follow, and provides all the text to pray along for all the hours of the Breviary.
Tablets: I received for Christmas an iPad, which was a little companion and aid for my recovery from open heart surgery. At first it just seemed like a bigger version of my phone, but it’s proven useful this Lent.
- Holy Heroes Lenten Adventure: We have enjoyed both the Advent and Lent adventures from Holy Heroes. There are videos, audio, coloring pages and puzzles on Lent aimed for children. I’ve found it so much easier to play the videos and audio through the iPad. We enjoy the videos as we eat our breakfast.
- Stations of the Cross: On Fridays our family prays the Stations of the Cross together. We alternate praying with our parish and praying at home. The first Friday of Lent I found myself out of town with only two booklets. Using my iPad I was able to display our Stations in e-book style and share with my sons. Even with no access to a printer we were able to all follow along. There are a variety of versions available for free, including the ones from the Vatican.
- Art Display: We use art prints to display during our rosary. We also use the tablet to display beautiful art images full screen.
Websites: There are a variety of websites and blogs I read. I cut down some of my reading during Lent, but do keep these for Lent:
Catholic Culture: It’s not just bias—Catholic Culture has been one of my home pages for years. I always enjoy the commentary and reading the documents in the library, but also
- The Liturgical Year section provides the daily information for each day in the Liturgical Calendar, including the Collect prayer, reading citations, and meditations, plus the added activities, prayers, and recipes attached to certain feast days. And now one can sign up for a new liturgical year preview daily email.
- Catholic World News—This is where I first read my news. As a Catholic we should be praying for our Holy Father and for the Church, so being aware of events of the members of the Mystical Body gives us reminders and specific intentions to pray for our brothers and sisters. It is also useful for keeping up with spiritual advice from our Holy Father, such as get to confession and carry a pocket-sized New Testament and read it often.
Vatican and Vatican News: These sites have untapped riches. There are several choices for the Way of the Cross from the Vatican, for example.
These are only a few examples of modern media that are helps for the final days of Lent. I didn’t even touch on using other social media tools as sources for Lenten inspiration. I pray for balance in using technology; I don’t want to be too dependent and not be able to be still and listen. None of these are substitutes for reading a book or having quiet time in prayer. But I need to recognize how they can be useful tools for our spiritual lives. I can use them as stepping stones in helping me persevere in these last few weeks of Lent.
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