When to check speech | Catherine Jean Lopez |
Will Smith banged Chris Rock at the Oscars – you could live in a cave and still know about this, and be subject to the blizzard of opinion about it. This incident exposed the depths of my addiction to the phone as I clicked on link after link to articles that had virtually no impact on anyone’s life. The media frenzy was a bit like a siren warning us all to stay away from our screens.
And this is a timely alarm. We have just celebrated some of the holiest days of the year. Holy Week, Easter, Passover and Ramadan overlap a little each spring. Not everyone reading this is a Christian, but I guess unless you have a deep hostility towards religion – possibly encouraged by misbehaving Christians – you probably wouldn’t mind having neighbors Christians who take their faith seriously.
Right now, I don’t think the world is overwhelmed with Christians living for their faith. But the last days of Lent are an opportunity for us to do better, to remember what Christians are called to do. The Gospels are radical and show us the possibilities of sacrificial love. The message of Christ is life-giving. He forgets himself out of love for the other. It is based on service and reflection.
Father Donald Haggerty is a priest in the Archdiocese of New York currently assigned to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. He is the author of many beautiful books on prayer, his latest being “Saint John of the Cross: Master of Contemplation”. Written during the coronavirus shutdown, it was a labor of love and gratitude. Haggerty became familiar with St. John of the Cross in seminary, and the spiritual teacher has been a guide to him ever since.
Haggerty argues that exposure to the saint’s writings “can change our lives permanently”. He writes that “The soul itself becomes more contemplative as we give ourselves more fully to God, just as it becomes wiser, more charitable, more humble.”
Frankly, clicking every tempting link on our phones feels like the opposite of that, with the opposite effect. It’s good to know what’s going on in the world, but we should be wary when it distracts us from the big picture.
In the introduction to his new book, Father Haggerty tells the story of a Carmelite nun who once told Saint John of the Cross that whenever she passed by the pond in the monastery garden where she lived , she noticed the frogs at the edge of the pond. would jump to hide from her when they heard her approach. Haggerty writes: The saint “answered that these frogs were going where they were safest.
“They preserved themselves by diving into the depths of water. He advised her to do the same. She too should flee from creatures and descend into the depths where God hides and where she could hide her life in him.”
Now, of course, most of us don’t live in monasteries, nor are we called to be hermits, tempting as that may be on some days. But we must fight for calm. If we claim to be religious, we must commit to spending time with God alone. This is how we come to love like God. This is how we learn what love really is. And in this time of returning somewhat to “normal”, consider what is good and what is toxic in this concept. Do not look for false securities and habits that numb the conscience. Let your life be changed by a little silence with God each day in a new way.
Kathryn Jean Lopez is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, editor of National Review magazine, and author of the new book “A Year With the Mystics: Visionary Wisdom for Daily Living.” She is also the president of Cardinal Dolan’s pro-life commission in New York. She can be reached at [email protected]