Catholics usually give up something specific for Lent, the 40-day period which marks the period that Jesus spent the in the desert, and which leads up to Easter. People will give up things like chocolate, alcohol, fast food, etc. This year, “Catholics are urged to give up texting for Lent:”
Roman Catholic bishops in Italy are urging the faithful to go on a high-tech fast for Lent, switching off modern appliances from cars to iPods and abstaining from surfing the Web or text messaging until Easter.
Dioceses and Catholic groups in Modena, southern Bari and other cities have called for a ban on text messaging every Friday in Lent, which began last week with Ash Wednesday. “It’s a small way to remember the importance of concrete and not virtual relationships,” the Modena diocese said in a statement. “It’s an instrument to remind us that our actions and lifestyles have consequences in distant countries.”
The Turin diocese is suggesting the faithful not watch television during Lent. In the northeastern city of Trento, the church has created a “new lifestyles” calendar with proposals for each week of Lent. Some ideas: Leave cars at home and hop on a bike or a bus; stop throwing chewing gum on the street and start recycling waste; enjoy the silence of a week without the Internet and iPods.
Italian laity and clergy have reacted cautiously to the proposals. Some say Lenten abstinence should be a personal matter, and others contend that people who need technology to work shouldn’t be asked to do without. Benedict praised social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace for forging friendships and understanding, but cautioned that online networking could isolate people from real social interaction.
I think it’s a great idea. Our lives today are interwoven with technology, but it’s useful every now and then to take a step back and realize that the technologies are a tool to facilitate, not replace, human interaction. Last summer, I didn’t use technology during a two-week mission trip to Moldova, and it was quite refreshing to take a break from the rat race. You also realize that keeping up with the 24-hour cycle isn’t as important as you thought.
Is anyone giving anything up for Lent? Anyone inspired now to give up some technology?