Real Life or Virtual Fantasy?
Do we take action when it comes to our faith lives? It's so easy to get caught up in routine that we become lost in our mission for finding ourselves. I know for myself, the summer brings in a lot of working hours which leaves one tired and not wanting to do much else. However, it is important to consider and reflect on what we do with our time. One of the biggest time wasters is social media. For me (yes I do it too) it is Facebook, scrolling through and continuously wasting minutes, hours searching for ounces of possible happiness. Yes there are uses for social media which can be used for the good, such as the constant twitter updates by Pope Francis, charity organizations, devotions, encouragement writings. However, how often do we actually seek and find happiness, find God's presence through looking at our news feed?
Today's First Reading states: 'The crowd joined in attacking them; and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely. Having received this charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and every one's fetters were unfastened. When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, "Do not harm yourself, for we are all here." And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out and said, "Men, what must I do to be saved?" And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household."And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their wounds, and he was baptized at once, with all his family. Then he brought them up into his house, and set food before them; and he rejoiced with all his household that he had believed in God' (Acts 16:22-34).
Paul and Silas are locked away because of their faith, their action and because of their belief, they were set free and saved the lives of many more people. Believing is more than just seeing, or feeling, it is being active in that faith. In Paul Brandt's song 'Virtual Life', we hear how the world has become cibertized, but one cannot gain love and grasp life's purpose. We need time for quiet, to disconnect and be active with friends, family and even those we barely know, to show them God's love and to gain a better perspective. The challenge for tomorrow then is to turn off any social media you don't need. No Facebook, twitter, Instagram or pinterest (texting or calling for conversation is fine). Learn to be present in the moment, in what God is calling you for. Go to mass, or take time for prayer, silence and embrace God's will without the virtual world (there will be no article tomorrow, so don't use that as an excuse!)
Today's prayer comes from 'Anchored in Christ' a prayer when using technology:
Most Gracious Heavenly Father,
Thank you for the good gift of the Internet and social media through which we can create, communicate, learn, and glorify you. I thank you for the ways you have blessed our world and made lives easier because of the Internet. I praise you for giving the good gifts of creativity and work, and that we can reflect your image online.
I pray that the Gospel message would speed ahead through the Internet and social media, proclaiming the glories of Christ and reaching many in this generation with the saving message of Christ.
I confess that my sinful heart can twist the neutral tools of technology and use them for sin and idolatry. I confess a greedy and lustful heart that is at times too easily pleased with something other than your good, pleasing, and perfect will for my life.
I pray that you would help me to avoid technology’s unintended consequences like idolizing gadgets, using gadgets to feed other idols in my life, or to keep me from relating to others you have called me to love.
I humbly ask for you to grant me the right desires not to build my own kingdom on the social media, but to build yours, not to be a slave to sin, but to be a slave to righteousness, not to have a lustful heart, but to flee from lust and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace from a pure heart.
I pray for you would help me to live a fruitful and productive life for Christ and that the Internet would only aid me in my work and Christian calling.
I pray that you would grant me contentment, self-control and deep insight into ways I subtly tend to fashion idols while using social media.
Help me to discern with all wisdom my thoughts, words, and actions as well as the words and actions of others.
May my speech build others up and point them to the Savior, testifying always to his grace and truth.
May my relationships through technology communicate the deep care of the Savior, showing his love through my words and deeds.
May my stewardship of resources point to the Maker of all things, showing his wise and generous heart.
May my time on the Internet and social media cause me to have a deeper communion with the Holy Spirit and a deeper love for the written word and the Word made flesh.
May my eyes be fixed on eternity and to remember that life is a vapor and that eternal life is found in Jesus Christ.
May my heart’s cry be to glorify you and proclaim Jesus Christ through every message, tweet, and blog post.
In all things, may Christ become greater and may I become less.
In Jesus’ name, AMEN.